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Merry Christmas from the VCLS!

The Victorian Christian Legal Society (VCLS) Committee wishes all its members and affiliates a merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

The VCLS Committee would like to extend their thanks particularly to its members for their constant support over 2017, which has seen the election of new Committee members and a renewed focus on engaging with law students and junior practitioners. The Committee is made up entirely of volunteers and your financial support is channeled back into hosting events that aim to cultivate strong connections among the Christian legal community.

Over the years, the VCLS has traditionally lent its support to a number of charitable organisations, particularly around the Christmas season. We are continually overwhelmed with the generosity of our members and the incredible work that these organisations perform.

We have compiled a short list of organisations which members may wish to consider supporting this holiday season below. (Not all of these organisations are affiliated with the VCLS, though some have been invited to speak at past VCLS events.)

Have a merry Christmas and a safe holiday season!

  • Compassion Australia: runs child sponsorship programs and provides practical assistance (access to water, healthcare and support after natural disasters) to lift children out of poverty
  • Fred Hollows Foundation: provides training to medical professionals and funding for operations to eliminate avoidable blindness and improve Indigenous Australian health
  • International Justice Mission Australia: partners with police, prosecutors, judges and social workers in developing countries to prosecute human rights violations under domestic law
  • Love Mercy Foundation: Australian charity running microfinance and healthcare projects in Northern Uganda
  • Prison Fellowship Australia: provides ministry to incarcerated men and women and their families
  • Southern Cross Kids Camp: runs programs to assist children who have been subjected to abuse, neglect or domestic violence
  • St Kilda Gatehouse: provides support and assistance to those involved in street based sex work or affected by commercial sexual exploitation as a result of hardship
  • Thankyou: social enterprise producing household goods – 100% of profits go to projects aimed at eliminating global poverty

Statement on Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017

On 15 November 2017, the results of the national postal survey on the issue of same-sex marriage were announced. Of the 12.7 million Australians who participated in the survey, approximately 7.8 million (61.6%) voted in support of the law being changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. Approximately 4.9 million (38.4%) voted against.

The Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 (Cth), a private member’s Bill introduced by Senator Dean Smith to implement these changes passed the Senate last week.

On 1 December 2017, 14 senior church leaders across Australia wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten (“the Open Letter”), voicing their concern at the refusal of the Senate to make amendments to the Bill to protect religious freedoms.

The Victorian Christian Legal Society (“VCLS”) has members from numerous denominations and backgrounds. The VCLS does not presume to speak for its members as a whole on the issue of whether same sex marriage should be legalised. We recognise that there is a diversity of opinion among our membership.

However, it is uncontroversial that many Christians do subscribe to a traditional view of marriage as being a union specifically between a man and a woman, privileged over other types of relationship because of its status as a fundamental institution vital for the raising of children and the preservation of society. Christianity is not the only faith in which this is the established, conservative position.

The results of the national postal survey indicate that there is a significant (around 4.9 million strong) minority of voters that does not support redefining marriage at law to include same sex couples. This is not a negligible or small demographic by any means.

It is critical that any law that is ultimately implemented to allow same-sex marriage appropriately accounts for differing views within the Australian community, even as it implements the will of the majority.

We urge Parliament to act to ensure that it protects freedom of conscience, belief and religion in legislating to allow same-sex marriage.

In particular, we call upon the House of Representatives to ensure protection for the following rights, as articulated in the Open Letter of 1 December 2017:

  1. The right of parents to educate their children in accordance with their religious and moral convictions;
  2. The right of religious institutions to ensure that their facilities are used in accordance with their religious beliefs and principles;
  3. The right of religious institutions to establish and maintain faith-based charities in accordance with their convictions;
  4. The right of religious institutions to express their beliefs, provided it is done in a way that respectfully engages with the community; and
  5. The right of civil celebrants to act in accordance with their genuinely held religious or conscientious conviction.

None of the above rights are assured in the Bill’s current iteration.

We also call upon the House of Representatives to ensure that charities that express a traditional view of marriage will not be denied their charitable status. This protection is similarly not assured in the Bill’s current iteration.

An essential element for the proper functioning of our legal system (and our democracy) is the ability for individuals to express views that others may disagree with, without fear of persecution. The Society supports the protection of this freedom and warns strongly against the undermining of it through legislation.

Further information and useful reading

Several informative links to articles and webpages covering the passage of the Bill and arguments concerning its content are set out below. Please note that the links cover a wide range of views on the topic and are not necessarily representative of the views of the VCLS or of the Committee.

“Same-sex marriage bill: We need amendments and it’s not just about bakers and florists” (16 November 2017), ABC News.

Freedom for Faith media release (27 November 2017).

“Same-sex marriage passes historic hurdle as Labor moves to veto religious freedoms” (29 November 2017), The Sydney Morning Herald.

“The problem of a same sex marriage exemption for civil celebrants” (29 November 2017), Pursuit.

“Church heads pen open letter over same-sex marriage bill fears” (1 December 2017), The Australian.

“Anglican bishops break ranks to support Dean Smith’s same-sex marriage bill” (4 December 2017), The Sydney Morning Herald.

Parliament of Australia webpage for Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017.

Changes to mentoring program and technical difficulties with contact forms

If you missed our annual Meet the Profession Dinner yesterday night, we’ve announced some changes to the Society’s mentoring program.

Due to an overwhelming amount of interest, we have lifted the cap on mentoring places.

Students and professionals alike will have until 24 November 2017 to submit expressions of interest for the program, which will run during the 2018 calendar year.

To those who have already applied, thank you for your patience while we fine-tune this new initiative!

For more information or to apply, please click here.

On a sidenote, it’s recently come to our attention that some people may have experienced technical difficulties with using the contact forms on our website. We have since fixed the issue.

If you suspect that your query may not have gotten through, please email it directly to president@clsvictoria.org . Thank you and apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Meet the Profession Dinner 2017 – Tickets on sale now!

The Victorian Christian Legal Society is delighted to announce that tickets can now be purchased for our annual Meet the Profession Dinner 2017.

DETAILS
Date: Thursday 12th October 2017
Time: 6:30 pm
Venue: Locanda, 186 Exhibition Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

TICKET PRICES
Student non-member: $39.00
Student VCLS member: $34.00
Professional non-member: $69.00
Professional VCLS member: $64.00

There are limited tickets available for this event so book now. Click here to get your ticket!

This year’s event is an excellent opportunity for students from law schools across Victoria to meet and make connections with Christians working in the legal industry in an informal setting.

The event will be held at the iconic Locanda Restaurant. Come and enjoy dinner, guest speakers and invaluable networking. Alcohol will be available for purchase at the bar.

Note: Member/non-member pricing applies. Please click here for more information on how to join.

The VCLS looks forward to seeing you there.

Annual Dinner 2017 Photos

The Victorian Christian Legal Society would like to thank everyone who attended our Annual Dinner this year for making it a resounding success! We hope that everyone had a fantastic time listening to the speeches and having fellowship with each other. Photos of the event are now available below, courtesy of Mr Casey Wong of core strategicreativity.

We were privileged to have The Honourable Robert Clark MP as our keynote speaker, and Mr Clark gave a fantastic speech on the night on the topic of defending of Christian values in our laws and society as a whole.

The dinner was attended by over 40 legal practitioners, members of the legal industry and law students, who were treated to a fantastic meal by Ombra.

At the dinner, the outgoing VCLS Committee also announced the winner of our Student Writing Competition. All three competition finalists also had an opportunity to present their entries at the dinner. Congratulations to the finalists and to the competition winner, Dilani Patrick!

Two new VCLS initiatives aimed at law students, our mentoring program and our book subsidy scheme, were also announced on the night.

We are now looking for interested legal practitioners and law students who wish to participate in our mentoring program. This program is aimed at fostering connections between established practitioners and the next generation of lawyers — if you would like to get involved, apply here!

The new VCLS committee was also formally introduced at the event. The Committee also had the opportunity to show its thanks to outgoing Secretary Amy Nhan, who was presented with a small token of our appreciation for all her hard work and service as VCLS Secretary.

Thank you to all who made the night a resounding success, and in particular Ombra for an incredible meal and Mr Casey Wong of core strategicreativity  for the excellent photography.

More photos can be found below.

Continue reading

New initiatives launched – Mentoring and Book Subsidy!

The Victorian Christian Legal Society wishes to thank all who attended our Annual Dinner tonight! We had a very large turnout to hear The Hon Robert Clark MP  give an inspiring speech. Photos and a wrap-up for the night will be posted shortly.

Information on our two new initiatives that were launched tonight is now available.

For information on our Mentoring Program, click here

For information on our Book Subsidy scheme, click here

Please have a look and consider applying!

Annual Dinner 2017 – Tickets now SOLD OUT

Thanks to everyone who bought tickets to our Annual Dinner – we are now SOLD OUT! Thank you for your ongoing support of the Victorian Christian Legal Society.

The new Committee for 2016-17 will be announcing some exciting new VCLS initiatives at the dinner, aimed at supporting Christian law students and strengthening connections between Christian practitioners and law students generally.

If you are interested in hearing more about these upcoming projects, please consider becoming a member of the VCLS. You can also follow our Facebook page and check this website for further updates!

Annual General Meeting Minutes & New Committee Announced

On Monday 29 May 2017, the Victorian Christian Legal Society (VCLS) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Please see links below to access a copy of minutes and documents referred to therein:

As you will see from the minutes, a new committee comprising the following individuals was elected at the AGM:
  • President – David De Alwis
  • Vice-President -Rebekah Wong
  • Secretary -Joshua Davis
  • Treasurer – Aaron Chan
  • General Member – Marketing Manager – Annabelle Yap
  • General Member – Student Representative – Nathan Lu

Natalie Fielding remains as the representative of the CLS at the CLEAR Board level and Derrick Toh has been elected in a reporting role between CLEAR and the VCLS.

The new committee will unveil their plans for the next financial year at the Annual Dinner on 13 June 2017. We hope you can join us – there are limited tickets so please do not delay in purchasing your tickets!

Annual Dinner 2017 & More

Tickets for our Annual Dinner 2017 are now on sale – click here to purchase!

The Victorian Christian Legal Society (“VCLS”) warmly invites you to attend its Annual Dinner on Tuesday 13 June 2017, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm at Ombra Bar (upstairs, 76 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000).

Our guest speaker will be the Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations and former Attorney-General of Victoria, The Honourable Robert Clark MP, who will be sharing on the topic:

The Defence of Christian Values

Mr Clark was first elected to Parliament in 1988 at the age of 31, and since then has served the community both as a local MP and in a wide range of portfolio areas including Attorney-General, Treasury, Finance, Industrial Relations, Planning, WorkCover, Gaming, ICT, Energy & Resources and Major Projects. More information about Mr Clark’s background and experience can be found here.

We will also be announcing our new VCLS Committee for 2017-18 as well as a number of new initiatives for the new financial year.

Please join us for an evening of fellowship that will inspire and encourage you. Your attendance at this event will support the ongoing activities of the VCLS and will help us to continue hosting events that are subsidised for our student members. There will also be an opportunity to give towards future initiatives of the VCLS.

EVENT DETAILS:
Date: Tuesday 13 June 2017
Time: 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Location:
OMBRA BAR (upstairs)
76 Bourke Street
MELBOURNE VIC 3000

TICKETS:
Members: $85
Non-members:
$95
Click here to purchase your ticket!

Ticket price includes cost of 4-course sharing menu and drinks plus a small donation component. No tickets will be sold at the door on the night.

Student Writing Competition

The VCLS is also running a competition for university students in conjunction with the Annual Dinner 2017.

What: Write a short response to the question, “Where is God in our legal system?”
Word limit: 500 words
Due Date: 5 June 2017
How to enter: Please submit entries to secretary@clsvictoria.org
Prize: The top three (3) entries will score their writers a free ticket to the Annual Dinner 2017 and an opportunity to present their response at the dinner. The top entry writer will also receive a sponsored position* to attend the Human Rights Law Alliance (“HRLA”) Legal Academy for 2017 or 2018 (value approx. $500, costs of flights not included).

*subject to acceptance by the HRLA

Reminder – VCLS Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 29 May 2017

Please also be reminded that our AGM will take place at 6.15 pm on Monday 29 May 2017 at Hutchinson Legal (Level 10, 459 Little Collins Street, Melbourne). We will be electing our office bearers for 2017/2018. Please click here for more information.

We would appreciate your RSVP by 6pm Sunday 28 May 2017 to secretary@clsvictoria.org for catering purposes.

SAVE THE DATE: Annual Dinner 2017 & Student Competition

The VCLS Committee is delighted to announce that the speaker for our Annual Dinner on Tuesday 13 June 2017 will be the Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations and former Attorney-General of Victoria, The Honourable Robert Clark MP.

Robert was first elected to Parliament in 1988 at the age of 31, and since then has served the community both as a local MP and in a wide range of portfolio areas including as Attorney-General, and in Treasury, Finance, Industrial Relations, Planning, WorkCover, Gaming, ICT, Energy & Resources and Major Projects. More details about Robert’s background and experience can be found here.

Robert will be sharing on the topic, “The Defence of Christian Values“.

Save the date in your diaries and there will be more details to follow.

NOTE: There will be member and non-member pricing for tickets so if you have not signed up as a member of the VCLS, you can sign up today.

Student Writing Competition

The VCLS is also running a competition for university students in conjunction with the Annual Dinner.

Topic: Write a short response to the question, “Where is God in our legal system?”
Word Limit: 500 words
Due Date: 5 June 2017

Prize: The top three (3) entries will score their writers a free ticket to the Annual Dinner, an opportunity to present their response at the Annual Dinner and the first prize-winner will also receive a sponsored position* to attend the Human Rights Law Alliance (“HRLA”) Legal Academy for 2017 or 2018 (value approx. $500, costs of flights not included).

Please submit entries to secretary@clsvictoria.org – good luck!

About the HRLA Legal Academy

If you were at our breakfast last week, you would have also heard about the Legal Academy that is being run by the HRLA in Canberra from 25 June to 7 July 2017.

The flagship training program is an exclusive opportunity for late year law students and lawyers with exemplary Christian testimony and good academic/professional records to learn about law, theology and practice from the best minds in Australia.

Please see their website for more information.

*subject to acceptance by the HRLA

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