Sheila Mary McClemans paved the way for Australian women entering the legal profession.
In addition to her legal career, Shelia held a range of high-level positions including director of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, becoming a role model to many Australian women inside and outside the armed forces.
She was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1951 and was awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977.
Stephanie Helen Pape graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949, followed by a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1963. She worked in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, in the Public Solicitor’s Office for nearly a decade. Stephanie began work as a legal officer and rose to the position of deputy public solicitor.
Marie Therese Tehan studied law at the University of Melbourne and went on to establish her own legal practice in Mansfield, Victoria in 1970. She was a member of the Liberal party of Australia and served in both Houses of the Victorian Parliament.
Mollie Whitehouse was the sixth woman to be admitted as a solicitor in Queensland. She continued to practice for fifty years after her admission, working as a Lawyer, Legal officer, Public servant and Solicitor throughout those years.
Mollie always regarded herself as ‘a lawyer who was a woman, not a woman lawyer’
Kemeri Anne Murray studied Law and Arts at Adelaide University, graduating in 1953. She began doing articles at Vaughan, Porter and English, a well known South Australian Law firm.
After being admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of South Australia she transferred to Brian Magarey and was offered a partnership, making her the first married woman to be offered a partnership in South Australia.
In 1973 she was offered a position on the Bench with the District Court of South Australia, becoming the second woman judge in South Australia.
Barbara Hocking studied Arts and Law at Melbourne University, graduating in 1962. She went on to complete her LLM degree at Monash University in 1970 and was later admitted to practice in Victoria in November 1975 and in the ACT in December 1975.
In 1982 Barbara became the first barrister briefed in the Mabo case, which would finally right the legal fiction of ‘terra nullius’ and recognise native title in common law.
She was a long-standing and active member of the Australian Labor Party and maintained her political commitments throughout her life.
In 1986 Barbara became a Senior Member of the Commonwealth Veterans Review Tribunal and Chairperson of the Medicare Participation Review Committee, and in 2004 she was appointed to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.
Joan Mary Heenan studied law in Western Australia in the 1930’s.
After her marriage in 1937, Joan moved to Kalgoorlie where she became a partner of Heenan and Heenan law, alongside her husband. When war was declared, many men enlisted and Joan became the only permanent lawyer in Kalgoorlie.
Joan continued to practice law until her retirement in 1991.
Dominica Whelan was a Judge of the Federal Circuit Court, former Commissioner of Fair Work Australia, and former industrial officer. ‘Equitable access to justice’ was a passionate lifelong commitment for Dominica.
Dominica completed a Bachelor of Arts and Law Degree at the University of New South Wales, being one of only three women in her law school class.
She was known for being hard-working and knowledgeable, and inspired confidence in those who appeared before her. She served as a member of the Policy Advisory Committee, and also as a member of the Indigenous Access Committee, being a strong supporter of the Court’s Reconciliation Action Plan aimed at improving access to justice for Indigenous people.
The Dominica Whelan Endowment, administered under the auspices of Victoria University, was established in her memory to support the delivery of accessible, affordable legal services to disadvantaged women, particularly Indigenous women.
Gae Margaret Pincus completed a Bachelor of Laws at the Australian National University. Gae began work in the Office of Women’s Affairs as an Associate for High Court Justice Lionel Murphy in 1982 and returned to the Public Service in 1983 to work in a legislative capacity, dealing with law reform within various government departments. She went on to establish and chair the National Food Authority before working for the international body Food and Agricultural Organization.