Resources to help you
There is a plethora of information on the internet about mental health and health and wellbeing. We haven’t provided an exhaustive list of these here, but we have sought to collate additional resources that are especially relevant to barristers and their families. This includes events at the Victorian Bar, a library of videos relevant to barristers’ mental and physical health and wellbeing, resources produced by and for other Bars and legal professional organisations, other sites you can visit for information and assistance, and relevant Victorian Bar policies.
News and events
There is a lot of support available at the Bar to help barristers manage their health and wellbeing. Below is a calendar of upcoming events in which you might want to become involved, and some news items about events, activities, and resources that could help you stay healthy and connected with activities around the Bar and the profession.
Library of videos and podcasts
Remote work and mental health by Emma Heuston, The Remote Expert
How to prevent burnout and look after yourself in practice by Desi Vlahos, The College of Law
In Good Health by Dr Sandro Demaio
Happy Lawyer Happy Life by Clarissa Rayward, The Happy Family Lawyer
Sport at the Bar
Members have the opportunity to participate in a variety of sports at the Bar.
The Bar XI traditionally plays a friendly cricket match each December against the Law Institute of Victoria for the Sir Henry Winneke Trophy. All members of the legal community are welcome to participate, including support staff of the Bar, law firms, courts and tribunals. No recent experience or skill is required.
If you are interested in finding out more (or would like to play), please don't hesitate to contact:
T 03 9225 7971
The Victorian Golfing Lawyers Society (VGLS) was established in 2017 as an incorporated association to continue the decades-old tradition of golf events organised by Victorian legal practitioners. The VGLS committee comprises barristers and solicitors.
The approximately 130 members of the VGLS comprise members of the Bar and Bench, solicitors and law students from across the state.
The VGLS runs five to six events per calendar year, including:
- Sir Edmund Herring Trophy – contested between the Bar and Bench and Solicitors
- The Frank Marrie Trophy, contested between NSW and Victorian lawyers
- The Serviceton, contested between SA and Victorian lawyers
- 2–3 social days for VGLS members
The committee works hard to get our members onto the best courses in Victoria for the best price we can negotiate. Golfers of all handicaps are welcome. Almost all events are scored in pairs. There is a one-off joining fee of $50. If any member of the Victorian Bar, current or retired, wishes to join, you are all welcome to contact:
Caroline Paterson, Honorary Secretary
Each October, the Bar's hockey team plays a match against the Law Institute of Victoria for the Scales of Justice Cup. The next Cup will be held in October 2021. For more information or to register as a team member, please contact:
T 03 9225 6733
Each year the Victorian Bar fields:
- an outdoor soccer team for the Tri-State Tournament, which is played against New South Wales and Queensland Bars. The Tri-State Tournament is held annually on rotation between VIC, NSW and QLD and is usually preceded by a sports law conference and followed by a social celebration
- a futsal team for the Jurisdictions Cup, which is played indoors against VCAT, Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, County Court, and the Supreme Court, and
- a Corporate Games 6 v 6 outdoor soccer team.
Players of all level of skill, experience and fitness are welcome, as are supporters who love or have interest in the world game.
For more information, please contact:
T 03 9225 7875
Daniel D Nguyen
T 03 9225 6619
T 03 9225 7444
The Victorian Bar holds the Wigs and Gowns Regatta each December competing for the Neil McPhee Memorial Trophy. The next Regatta is scheduled for December 2021. For more information or to register as a team member, please contact:
T 03 9225 7618
Publications and reports
The following resources may help members contextualise some of the challenges they encounter.
In June 2018, 856 Victorian barristers contributed to a survey on:
- Quality of working life, workplace wellbeing and personal wellbeing
- Conduct including discrimination, sexual harassment and workplace bullying
The full report and Wellbeing at the Victorian Bar presentation slides are here:
The issues that raised concern at the Victorian Bar are not unique. In October 2019, the Bar of Ireland conducted a survey of its members about their health and wellbeing at the Bar.
In April 2015, the Bar of England and Wales explored the level of wellbeing across the self-employed Bar and the employed Bar, and the aspects impacting on the psychological health and performance of participating barristers.
From late July 2019 to September 2019, Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner (VLSB+C) undertook two surveys on sexual harassment in Victoria’s legal profession, designed to:
- gather data on the prevalence and characteristics of sexual harassment in Victoria’s legal workplaces
- gather information from principals about the training, policies and procedures in place to prevent (and respond to) sexual harassment in Victoria’s law practices
The survey report and further information about the findings are available here.
In 2019, the VLSB+C launched its Lawyer Wellbeing Project with the aim of deepening the understanding of lawyers’ experience of mental health and wellbeing across their careers. They interviewed 37 people working across the profession, including law students, early career lawyers, solicitors, barristers and retired and current judicial officers, as well as those working in organisations involved in the regulation and training of legal professionals.
Poor wellbeing is a barrier to lawyers being able to do their jobs and provide access to quality legal services to Victorian consumers. This is of concern to us as the regulator of the profession.
The report is available here.
Other places to go for help and information
Your General Practitioner
If you or a family member experiences persistent health issues that interfere with your life, please talk to your General Practitioner, who is your gateway to mental health and other health services. Under a Mental Health Treatment Plan you can now receive 20 Medicare subsidised therapy sessions from an eligible mental health professional.
Australian Government, Department of Health, Head to Health
If you’re trying to improve your own mental health, or support somebody else with mental health issues, Head to Health provides links to trusted Australian online and phone supports, resources and treatment options. Head to Health is the Government’s digital mental health gateway providing information, advice and access to free and low-cost phone and online mental health services and support.
SANE Australia is a national charity helping all Australians affected by mental illness lead a better life – through campaigning, education and research. SANE conducts innovative programs and campaigns to improve the lives of people living with mental illness, their family and friends. It also operates a busy Helpline and website, which have thousands of contacts each year from around Australia.
1800 187 263
Mental Health Victoria
Mental Health Victoria is the peak body for mental health service providers in Victoria, and specialises in public policy, workforce development and training, and services that build individual, organisational and community capacity. Mental Health Victoria translates best evidence into practice for the benefit of its members and their staff, consumers and communities. Mental Health Victoria is not a crisis support or referral service.
Relevant Victorian Bar Policies
The Victorian Bar is committed to promoting equality and diversity in the legal profession. This approach is consistent with the principles of justice, integrity, equity and the pursuit of excellence upon which the Bar is founded.
This includes providing a working environment where barristers and those engaging with barristers can conduct themselves free from bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment. The principles on which the Bar is founded demand respectful behaviour by members of the Bar.
The Bar has a number of policies supporting the Bar as a safe working environment for all.
More information on complaints and reporting is available here.
The Victorian Bar is also committed to ensuring that members are treated appropriately at all times in their engagements with judicial officers. It engages openly and constructively with courts and tribunals to encourage maintenance of the highest standards of conduct by judicial officers.
In 2015, the Legal Services Commissioner delegated to the Victorian Bar the power to initiate a complaint, make a preliminary assessment of it, close or proceed to investigate the complaint and extend the scope of an investigation in relation to disciplinary matters that arise as a result of interactions between Victorian barristers.
As a result of that delegation, the Bar Council and the Ethics Committee have developed a Grievance Protocol to deal with grievances arising between barristers.