24 September 2022
On 12th September 2022, the Asian Australian Lawyers Association (AALA) along with the University of Melbourne celebrated the launch of the CALD Issues Paper authored by Mai Chen and Andrew Godwin. The event was joined by 80 participants, in person and online and was highlighted with valuable insight from Honourable Paul Coghlan AO KC (former Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria) and her Honour Judge My Anh Tran of the County Court of Victoria.
His Honour Justice Coghlan stressed the need “to understand the nuances cultural diversity brings”, reasoning with the evidentiary issues in the prime Australian case
Polyukhovic v The Commonwealth (1991) 172 CLR 501, and his own experience where an interpreter stated that the translation was futile because his honour was “talking about the onions” while the party was “talking about the garlic”. “People should be able to communicate what they want to communicate and do it properly, the judges should be informed” his Honour said.
The CALD Issues Paper elucidates the need for judges to be informed and proposes initiatives to overcome the challenges faced by CALD communities in
the court. Her Honour Judge Tran stated that the CALD Issues Report serves as the inception for change by “giving voice to the issue.” “Diversity and the ways to address it has always been an issue in
the legal profession. In order to address these issues, we need to read the detailed report and learn from it…This is the path to working through those differences and reaching towards respect for all.”
AALA President Molina Asthana shared her own experiences of some of the issues that CALD litigants face in accessing the justice system, including the concept of dowry, translators and appointment of expert in a matter that was cross jurisdictional. She highlighted that ‘unique issues require unique solutions because justice should not only be done but also seen to have been done’. She reiterated the importance of the
research that has been carried out by the Superdiversity institute led by Mai Chan, which she said is revolutionary and has the potential to remove many barriers to access to justice for CALD litigants in the court system in Australia.
We thank Mai and Andrew for all their hard work in authoring this Issues paper and and Andrew and the Asia Law Centore for hosting the event. The event was met with great enthusiasm from the audience and has received media coverage by ABC: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-09-22/calls-for-legal-sector-to-embrace-cultural-diversity/101458606. We hope to continue promoting such impactful projects and work towards building a system that truly serves justice to all.
For all media inquiries, please contact Molina Asthana on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0400785299.