Vimbainashe Chitsunge

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

Currently I am pursuing my passion for law and helping people by completing my university degree. Through my degree I have been blessed with the opportunity of participating in the Disrupting Law Hackathon in which my team and I designed ‘On Your Side’. ‘On Your Side’ is an app which aims to assist both victims of sexual assault or harassment as well as members of the Criminal Justice System by providing:

  1.  A checklist in the form of a questionnaire to differentiate whether conduct was Sexual Assault or Sexual Harassment
  2. A reporting and evidence section in which people are prompted to provide details of the incident such as date, location, photos of any wounds etc
    o Users will have the option of saving the details they have entered for future or immediate usage
    o The information saved as well as the results and answers to the Sexual Assault or Harassment Checklist would provide lawyers and police with details that may be forgotten if a person does not report the conduct immediately
  3. A breaking myths section which discusses common thoughts regarding sexual assault or harassment as well as the validity or invalidity of those thoughts
  4. Contact to relevant State and Territories services

Due to our desire to make a difference, my team and I are working on further refining and developing our app so that we may actually launch it for public use.

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I became interested in the legal industry after my mother took me to the library in year 4 and forced me to get one non-fiction book because I was “a big girl now”. The book I chose was Great Australian Women and I remember being wowed reading about the first women to venture into male dominated careers. As my maternal grandfather was a policeman, my paternal grandfather was a soldier, my maternal uncle is a policeman and my paternal uncle is a lawyer, reading about the first female lawyers and politicians quickly gained my interest.

This interest was furthered throughout my schooling with year 7 being the year I decided that I wanted to become a lawyer, so that I could help people. I think that lawyers are people who have been blessed with the opportunity to make a significant difference in people’s lives which is exactly what I want to do. I also believe that as a lawyer, you are constantly learning new things and challenged to go above and beyond. This aligns with an important lesson my grandfather taught me before he passed away, which is “Always keep learning, you will never learn enough or too much so always keep learning”.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Community, Culture and Acceptance. 

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

Given my limited exposure and experience within the legal industry, the only suggestion I can name is continued mentoring. This mentoring can take many forms such as:

  • Senior members of the profession actively encouraging young practitioners to aim for higher positions, running skill swap workshops in which more people can have access to the industry as well as share and develop their skills.
  • Law firms or organisations engaging more with high-school students to break stereotypes about the industry, nurture interest in various legal roles and open discussion about the future of the legal industry

Through mentoring, not only would the new generation be learning from experienced role models, our role models would be challenged to think in new ways to align with or further progress societal developments. This collaboration of various generations may foster a diverse environment as ideas, issues and solutions which affect different groups are analysed and improved upon from several perspectives.

Vimbainashe is a Law and Commerce Student at the University of Wollongong.