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Ideas, Progress & the Future

IWD22: Amy Kilpatrick joins the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, ready to make an impact

Amy Kilpatrick isn’t the ‘traditional’ lawyer type.

She actually started her studies in the field with a deep dislike of the profession.

“I began a law degree because I hated what law did [could be used to do] to people, and I could see the vast injustices, as I was coming from a sociology and political background,” she says.

“The majority of my legal training felt like it was about how to help very rich people move money from one hand to the other, and I was completely disinterested in that.

“But there were rare and incredible academics who did not teach law in that way, and offered me an opportunity to think about real human beings and the impact the law had on them.”

These academics were the ones who helped her move into a space that was rewarding, and that she could find passion in – the kind of law that helps the vulnerable and disadvantaged achieve equity.

She started her legal career at the ACT Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions before moving on to work in community legal centres, and then Canberra’s Consumer Law Centre.

Here, Amy worked with clients who were at risk of losing everything because fraud had been perpetrated upon them.

From there, Amy headed up the Public Law Clearing House in Sydney, only to return to Canberra to help set up Street Law – a legal service for homeless people.

“Street Law celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2020, which was a wonderful thing,” she says.

“It is a service which is completely outreach-based and delivered to clients where they would turn up rather than having them sit and wait in your office.

“That type of service model is the way I think social justice law is being delivered more and more now and it might be a little bit less convenient for the lawyers, but it’s a much more meaningful service for the clients.”

Amy’s impressive career didn’t stop there, as she spent time in University of Canberra’s legal office across five years, and then began a stint as legal advisor for then ACT Attorney-General, Gordon Ramsay.

“During my time in the Attorney-General’s office, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and our office was responsible for settling all the COVID legislation,” she says.

“That consisted of a lot of 4am finishes, a lot of drafting legislation and pulling out all of the stops to keep the community safe.

“I think I learned more in that time than I had learned probably in the 20 years I had been practising before that.”

Somehow in between all of this, Amy had a beautiful baby boy she is now a single parent to, and her work has bought her back to us here at UC.

She will soon join the University of Canberra’s 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, as Director, Strategy & Governance and bring a world of experience and perspective to drive success.

“While the foundation has been focused primarily on gender equity, I will bring to the role a deep understanding of what it means to be a vulnerable and disadvantaged person generally, and to have systemic injustice visited upon you,” she says.

“The foundation is about transformation within social policy and influencing that, and that’s extremely attractive to me.

“I am really hoping that the more inspirational people we can draw together, the more we can harness the energy of this time.”

When asked if she has a career highlight, out of the many impressive endeavours she has undertaken, she replies “I hope I haven’t had it yet”.

And while that might seem amazing to some, we hope she can find it at UC and with the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation.

Words by Danielle Meddemmen, pictures by Tyler Cherry.

This International Women's Day – and every day – the University of Canberra celebrates the remarkable, inspiring women of our community. #breakthebias

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