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As a proudly Canberra based firm, Meyer Vandenberg appreciates the support of the local community, and in return, we set out to fill some of the gaps in the community’s social and legal needs. Canberra, its people and its business are at the heart of what we’re all about. In the 2011/12 financial year, we focussed our community initiatives through the establishment of a formal Community Engagement Policy and a dedicated Community Engagement Committee. Our priority was getting the policy off the ground and exploring the opportunities available to give back to our community. 2011/12 was the year in which our community engagement program found its feet, but by 2012/13 we were really up and running! The past 12 months have seen some amazing achievements for Meyer Vandenberg’s community engagement program. We have worked hard to achieve our targets, put in place some solid infrastructure around our pro bono work and community involvement, built some great relationships with local community organisations and raised the bar for the years to come. Through fostering a more focussed approach, we were able to consolidate our efforts to ensure that we reached those most in need – a goal which produced some rewarding and exciting results. This report highlights some of the firm’s achievements and how we sought to better our community.



THE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE Introducing the Community Engagement Committee Meyer Vandenberg’s Community Engagement Committee is a devoted team of charity, recycling and pro bono enthusiasts who keep the wheels turning on the firm’s community contributions.

Who We Are • Stephanie Lynch – One of the Committee’s two pro bono partners, Steph liaises with our key community partners. Steph was instrumental in the firm’s work on the Master Builders Association Charity House in Franklin and leads the Meyer Vandenberg Property and Projects Team. • Geoff Adams – A pro bono supporter from way back, Geoff is the Committee’s other pro bono partner and came to the firm with a wealth of experience in coordinating community programs. His passion for cycling meant a seamless transition into the Meyer Vandenberg team. Geoff leads our Government Team. • Justine Harper – As well as being the Committee’s hard working and organised Chair, Justine held a board position on local community arts organisation, Playing Field Studios. Working as a Senior Lawyer in the Dispute Resolution Team, her work on the Committee shows that, despite the rumours, we litigators have hearts too. • Kim Moore – Kim coordinates the firm’s pro bono enquiries, acting as a go-between with the ACT Law Society and the firm’s other pro bono connections. Kim juggles her love of pro bono with her role as a Senior Lawyer in the firm’s growing Construction Dispute Resolution Team. • Nick Dahlstrom – In terms of pro bono, Nick epitomises leading by example. In 2012, Nick was seconded to the ACT Law Society’s Pro Bono Clearing House. He now regularly attends the Night Time Legal Advice Service, providing free advice to members of the Canberra community on a wide range of legal issues. Nick balances all of this with his busy practice as a Lawyer in the firm’s Commercial Property Team and also manages to find time to volunteer with the Rural Fire Service.

• Tessa Dignam – “Captain Environment”, Tessa heads up the firm’s MVironment Sub-Committee, monitoring our ACTSmart compliance and ensuring the firm is kept up-todate on all things waste management. Tessa is constantly coming up with new fair trade ideas and chasing that elusive dream of keeping the compost bins from getting that not-so-fresh smell. Tessa also hails from the firm’s Construction Dispute Resolution Team where she has worked on some recent pro bono matters. • Tanya Berlis – As well as being our Practice Manager, Tanya is one of the founding members of the Committee. She has been a vocal supporter of a number of community initiatives in recent years including developing the firm’s relationship with LEAD, a local community organisation that provides supported employment to people with disabilities. • Charmaine Gill – A tireless volunteer and contributor to the firm’s fundraising events, Charmaine been instrumental in coordinating fundraising through mufti days, pay week raffles and floor events. She fits this in around working as a Paralegal in our busy Dispute Resolution Team. • Jonathan Devenish – Jonathan’s experience in the not-for-profit sector makes him a valuable member of the Committee. He has recently joined the board of Community Connections Inc., a national not-for-profit that provides support to people with a variety of disabilities. Jonathan works in the Construction Dispute Resolution Team and also assists with the firm’s Not-For-Profit Team. Jonathan is a Victorian native, but we try not to hold it against him.

• John Morrissey – an Irish native, John is also a regular attendee at the Night Time Legal Advice Service and has been involved in a number of pro bono matters accepted by the firm. John’s analytical and strategic approach has been an asset to the Committee and complements his work as an Associate in the Banking and Finance Team.



The Committee’s Work in 2012/13 Buoyed by the successes of the 2011/12 year, the Community Engagement Committee set some pretty ambitious targets for 2012/13. We worked hard to achieve those targets and we are pleased to report: • Meyer Vandenberg performed over $100,000 worth of pro bono legal work. • We strengthened ties with our existing community partners and developed new community connections. • Our Chosen Charity Program yielded the biggest ever financial donation to our chosen charity, Paediatrics at the Canberra Hospital (‘PatCH’). During this past year, the Committee also took time out to reflect on our community contributions over recent years and considered the best way to get the resources we have to where they are needed the most.

Our new Pro Bono Policy has been operational since April 2013. It has streamlined how we field and respond to pro bono requests, added transparency to how we assess pro bono referrals and focussed our pro bono program to enable us to better target those who we really want to help – those in need! The new Pro Bono Policy sets out a checklist to be applied to each and every referral. Some of the key criteria are: • Where the applicant is an individual, he or she must meet a means test; • Where the applicant is a body corporate, partnership or organisation, the applicant must be not-for-profit, charitable and operate in the Canberra region; and • The matter must relate to the preservation of the applicant’s rights or be a matter of public interest.

Over six months the Community Engagement Committee, with the support of the Meyer Vandenberg Partnership, reviewed the firm’s pro bono practice and set out to re-draft the Meyer Vandenberg Pro Bono Policy.



PRO BONO LEGAL WORK At Meyer Vandenberg we recognise our professional responsibility to provide the unique skills of our lawyers on a pro bono basis to those in need that are otherwise unable to access legal assistance. Our lawyers have a strong tradition of undertaking pro bono legal work, both on matters taken on by the firm without charge and at drop in centres and legal clinics within the Canberra region. For us, pro bono work is an important part of our practice and we support and encourage pro bono legal work by: • Accepting pro bono referrals from a wide variety of sources and building pro bono partnerships within the Canberra community; • Promoting opportunities for our lawyers to engage in pro bono work; • Providing flexible support to lawyers who want to work on pro bono matters; • Recognising that a good pro bono culture starts from the top with partners and senior lawyers leading by example; • Rewarding the achievements of lawyers who go the extra mile with annual awards for pro bono leaders and contributors; • Tailoring our Community Engagement Policy to ensure our resources are directed to the people who need them most.

Pro Bono Targets

2011/2012 In 2011/12 our lawyers exceeded the target of 10 hours per lawyer, performing a total of 335.5 hours of pro bono work that year (an average of 11.4 hours per lawyer). This was a huge effort for a firm of our size. In December 2012, the Commonwealth Government published its Legal Services Expenditure Report for 2011/12 which detailed the amount of pro bono legal work undertaken by all law firms working for the Commonwealth. That report placed Meyer Vandenberg in the top 50% of all law firms for pro bono work undertaken per lawyer during the 2011/12 financial year. It showed that the average amount of pro bono work undertaken by Meyer Vandenberg lawyers in 2011/12 surpassed that of seven of Australia’s leading law firms.

2012/13 As a firm, Meyer Vandenberg performed a total of 328 hours of pro bono legal work in 2012/13 at a total value of over $110,000.00. This represented an average of 9.57 hours of pro bono legal work per lawyer. This was a fantastic achievement and one we hope to build on in the coming years.

Meyer Vandenberg has been a proud signatory to the National Pro Bono Resource Centre’s Aspirational Target since 2010. As a signatory, we set a target number of hours of pro bono work to be undertaken per lawyer each year with the aim of one day reaching the National Pro Bono Resource Centre’s Aspirational Target of 35 hours of pro bono legal work per lawyer per year. By signing up to the Aspirational Target, Meyer Vandenberg pledged its best efforts to achieving the Aspirational Target to attempt to address the unmet legal needs of the poor and disadvantaged in our local community.



OUR PRO BONO WORK IN 2012/13 Over the past twelve months we received a number of requests for pro bono assistance. The bulk of these referrals were received from the ACT Law Society Pro Bono Clearing House. However, we have also received referrals from the Welfare Rights and Legal Centre, direct requests through our website and referrals from government departments. Of the referrals we received: • Over half were accepted; • One referral was rejected due to a conflict of interest; and • Approximately one third of referrals fell outside the scope of our Pro Bono Policy.

Generally, the types of matters that have been referred to us are either of a commercial nature (for example, setting up organisations or drafting constitutions) or relate to a dispute. Some more unusual referrals include an application under the New South Wales victims of crime compensation scheme, a defamation claim and a copyright infringement claim.


Helping a Young Victim of Crime Kim Moore and Greg Brackenreg of the Dispute Resolution Team are currently advising the Chief Executive of the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services. The Chief Executive is the guardian to a minor with an intellectual disability who was the victim of a crime that took place in New South Wales. The minor sustained psychological injury in the incident and requires ongoing care. Greg and Kim are assisting the Director-General, on behalf of the minor, to apply for compensation under the NSW victims of crime compensation scheme.



Other Pro Bono Contributions As well as taking on pro bono matters and assisting not-for-profit organisations, our lawyers support Canberra-based community legal centres and the ACT Law Society’s pro bono initiatives, including:

ACT Emergency Legal Help Plan Several of Meyer Vandenberg’s lawyers are signatories to the register of lawyers for the ACT Emergency Legal Help Plan, introduced in 2012 by the ACT Legal Assistance Forum. The plan has been endorsed by the Councils of the Law Society and the ACT Bar Association, and includes establishment of a register of volunteer lawyers to provide legal assistance in the event of an emergency. Many of the firm’s lawyers signed up to the register in 2012-13.

“Whenever natural disasters befall Australians, I often wonder how they cope with the myriad of legal issues that would possibly confront them at such times. Things such as understanding insurance policies and legal rights in order to make decisions for injured family members, would be just some of the issues that might arise at short notice. The ACT Emergency Legal Help Plan is a way of mobilising lawyers at short notice to provide emergency advice to Canberrans, and I am happy to be on the register to provide such support if needed.” Christine Murray, Partner.

Night Time Legal Advice Service (NTLAS) A long-standing service provided by the Welfare Rights and Legal Centre, the NTLAS is a Tuesday night drop-in centre advising on all areas of law to those attending the Centre. Lawyers at the NTLAS provide one-off legal advice and referrals to clients on all areas of law. Nick Dahlstrom and John Morrissey are both regularly volunteers at NTLAS.

“I get a lot of satisfaction from being able to assist people who, without NTLAS, would not be able to access legal advice and who often have legal issues that I would not otherwise have the opportunity to deal with.” John Morrissey, Associate.



ACT Law Society Legal Advice Bureau Meyer Vandenberg is an enthusiastic supporter of the ACT Law Society and their very important pro bono initiatives. The ACT Law Society Legal Advice Bureau (“LAB”) is a service that has enhanced access to justice for Canberrans by providing pro bono legal advice and referrals for over 30 years. The LAB runs during weekday lunchtimes and provides members of the public with an opportunity to discuss their matter with a local lawyer. Meyer Vandenberg lawyers Greg Brackenreg, Kim Moore and Justine Harper regularly man the LAB.

“Pro bono legal work is an essential part of legal practice for me. Volunteering at the Law Society’s Legal Advice Bureau gives many lawyers like me a regular opportunity to connect with the community and share legal knowledge in a more flexible environment. I’m glad to be able to support the Law Society in providing this valuable service” Kim Moore, Senior Lawyer.

ACT Law Society Pro Bono Clearing House The ACT Law Society Pro Bono Clearing House was established to link those seeking more substantive pro bono advice and representation with lawyers willing to provide it. Canberra legal practitioners sit on a rotational panel which examines all applications for pro bono legal assistance to determine whether the application meets the Clearing House’s eligibility criteria. If approved, the matter is referred to a Community Legal Centre or local law firm that has expressed interest in accepting referrals. Meyer Vandenberg is on the list to receive referrals from the Pro Bono Clearing House and, as stated above, this is the source of the majority of the requests for pro bono assistance received by the firm. As well as receiving referrals from the Pro Bono Clearing House, our lawyers Nicholas Dahlstrom, Kim Moore, John Morrissey and Justine Harper also sit on the Pro Bono Clearing House panel to assess applications.



Supporting Local Not-For-Profits and Community Organisations As well undertaking pro bono work for individuals referred to us by schemes like the ACT Pro Bono Clearing House and Welfare Rights Legal Centre, Meyer Vandenberg also assist many local not-for-profit organisations on a pro bono basis. We think it’s fantastic that our staff, clients and professional contacts are involved in not-for-profit and community organisations. So when those organisations require pro bono legal services and call on us for assistance, we do our best to help out where we can.

How We’ve Helped Representing LEAD, a Local Disability Support Organisation

my team gave me in preparing for the hearing, and the interaction with staff from LEAD as the matter progressed. I’m looking forward to my next opportunity to work on a pro bono matter.” Entry 29

In 2013, we were approached directly by local community organisation, LEAD, in relation to a claim filed against them in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. LEAD combines three long standing disability employment support services – Community Programs Association, WorkPlaces and BusinessServices – and has been operating in the Canberra region for 15 years. The organisation promotes equal opportunity and inclusion within the community, and provides opportunities for individuals living with disabilities to engage with the local community.

In conjunction with Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre CEO Anna Pino and ANU Pro Vice-Chancellor (Innovation and Advancement) Mick Cardew-Hall, Partner Alice Tay helped establish Entry 29, a co-working space located at the ANU to encourage entrepreneurs to “connect, create and collaborate on new and exciting opportunities”. This initiative continues Meyer Vandenberg’s commitment to supporting young inventors and entrepreneurs in the Canberra Region.

The Club Group Foundation

Tessa Dignam, a lawyer in our Dispute Resolution Team, took on the matter and provided representation to the organisation in a contested hearing.

“I represented Community Programs Association Inc (now LEAD) in proceedings in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. We provided assistance by drafting evidence, submissions and appearing on their behalf. The staff at LEAD were fantastic to work with, and were able to provide valuable insight into the important factual considerations in the case both before, during and after the hearing. As a young lawyer, I really valued the support that

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Our valued clients, The Club Group, approached us for assistance in establishing their charitable foundation - The Club Group Foundation. The objects of the Club Group Foundation are to ensure that underprivileged people have opportunities to access a healthier lifestyle and to provide educational programs for young people on the benefits of living healthy. Partner Alice Tay and Samuel Stapleton worked with Harry Konstantinou on a pro bono basis to establish The Club Group Foundation.


UN Women

UN Women was established by the United Nations in 2010 to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women. Meyer Vandenberg has developed a strong relationship with the Australian branch of this inspiring organisation. Deb Mackenzie and Hugh Chalmers of Meyer Vandenberg’s Employment, Industrial Relations and Safety Team have assisted the organisation by providing advice on various complicated human resources issues. We are looking forward to a long partnership with this organisation.

Master Builders Association of the ACT – Franklin Charity House Project

The Franklin Charity House Project was a joint initiative of the ACT Government and Master Builders Association of the ACT (“the MBA”) which raised several hundred thousand dollars for charities focused on Canberra’s homeless. With the support of local builders and tradespeople, the MBA coordinated construction of a new house in Franklin, ACT. The land was donated by the ACT Land and Development Agency, the house was constructed at a substantially reduced cost and auctioned with the proceeds donated to a selection of charities who support Canberra’s homeless population. The MBA approached Meyer Vandenberg to support the Franklin Charity House Project. We provided free legal services including structuring advice and preparing pro forma agreements to be used by suppliers and contractors working on the project. As the project came to a close, Stephanie Lynch, Partner, and Rory Scott, Senior Lawyer, further assisted by preparing the contract of sale for the auction of the house. The house was auctioned on 2 March 2013 and sold for $850,000, with the proceeds distributed to charity.

“Meyer Vandenberg donated legal advice pro bono to support the Franklin Charity House. The Franklin Charity House has been a partnership between the ACT Government’s Land Development Agency (LDA) and the Master Builders Association of the ACT (MBA). The Franklin Charity House as raised over $580,000 in profits which was distributed to five local charities that support those who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless.” Jessica Stewart, Project Officer, Urban Renewal Department, Sustainability and Innovation, Land Development Agency.

The YWCA of Canberra

Meyer Vandenberg has been delighted to assist the YWCA of Canberra in relation to their corporate structure constitution and in providing employment advice. We have also been impressed at the range of mentoring, coaching and informative services provided by the Y to women in Canberra’s business community.

“The YWCA of Canberra deeply values the support received from Meyer Vandenberg this year. Their assistance in the development of the legal framework of our Affordable Housing Program enabled us to make a difference in the lives of single women facing housing stress and potential homelessness. The YWCA of Canberra also strengthened its governance through the advice received on the amendments to the constitution. Our sincerest gratitude to Meyer Vandenberg for helping us build a better community for all Canberrans” Rebecca Vassarotti, Former Executive Director, YWCA of Canberra.


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“Meyer Vandenberg Lawyers are a new corporate partner, taking on our general legal work and providing pro bono assistance from time to time. Meyer Vandenberg lawyers have recently been involved in providing advice on a number of issues in relation to our Organisation’s constitution…We saw Meyer Vandenberg as a perfect fit, being a large locally based firm with a community focus and a commitment to corporate social responsibility.” Ynews YWCA of Canberra, Spring 2012.

Community Connections Inc. ACT

The Australian Mon Association Inc

The Mon Association is an organisation aimed at preserving the culture and traditions of the Mon people of Burma and assisting Mon people who have fled persecution in their homeland. When the Mon Association required legal assistance, Partner Hugh Chalmers and Sam Stapleton answered the call! They advised and assisted the Mon Association with an application for deductible gift recipient status and redrafted and updated their constitution.

Surfers Against Suicide

Jonathan Devenish, a Lawyer in our Dispute Resolution Team, also sits on the board of local charity organisation, Community Connections Inc. ACT (“Community Connections”). Community Connections is a non-government organisation that supports people with a disability to allow them to achieve an ordinary life. Community Connections has established a Homeshare Service that matches householders with people who need affordable housing and are willing to contribute to the householder. When it came time for Community Connections to draft a template Homeshare Agreement for its Homeshare Service participants, Jonathan approached Meyer Vandenberg to see if we could help. Meyer Vandenberg is assisting Community Connections with this process on an ongoing basis.

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Surfers against Suicide is a community initiative aimed to activate the international surfing community to raise funds for distribution to organisations that help to prevent deaths by suicide (see for more info). This great initiative was the brainchild of our clients John Sayers and Mark Whithear, who approached Partner Alice Tay and Samuel Stapleton to help. Working with Justin Barry of Equity Partners, we established on a pro bono basis, a public ancillary fund which allowed donations to be made and then distributed to support the work of charitable organisations in the mental health area.


Creative Partnerships Australia - The Find

Creative Partnerships Australia (previously known as Australian Business Arts Foundation) brings together the business and arts communities in Australia through a number of unique initiatives, including facilitating the provision of advice and board placements. Meyer Vandenberg has been allied with Creative Partnerships Australia for a number of years. In 2012/13, we continued to foster our relationship with Creative Partnerships Australia by assisting with referrals for advice and board positions from a number of arts organisations. One such referral was a request for legal advice for The Find, an exciting new arts project in Canberra. The Find is a not-for-profit initiative designed to support and empower artists with a disability. Their projects include a supported art studio and artist-in-residency programs. This year, Athol Opas, Kristen Porter, Samuel Stapleton and Geoff Adams of the Meyer Vandenberg Corporate and Commercial Team advised The Find on appropriate business structures to ensure they were consistent with the organisation’s objectives and need to gain charitable status.

ACT Building and Construction Industry Association

live, learn, earn

The ACT Building and Construction Industry Association is an initiative of Loraine O’Bryan with the support of our friends at the Master Builders Association ACT. The Association aims to provide assistance to young people in the Canberra building and construction industry who are at risk of being unable to complete their apprenticeship due to homelessness, illness, disability or misfortune. Partner Alice Tay and Samuel Stapleton assisted the Association on a pro bono basis by providing advice and redrafting the Association’s Constitution to allow it to be endorsed as a Public Benevolent Institution with charitable status.

Project Independence Project Independence is a social and community housing organisation which not only provides and manages affordable social and community housing but also provides accommodation options for people with intellectual disabilities and supports them to transition to independence, through upholding their dignity and building their confidence. Working with Ernst & Young on a pro bono basis our property team led by Archie Tsirimokos and Nicholas Dahlstrom, together with our commercial team of Alice Tay and Samuel Stapleton advised on and established a company limited by guarantee with deductible gift recipient status to support this initiative of Glenn Keys.


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You may have noticed Hugh Chalmers’s name pops up frequently when discussing all things “community” here at Meyer Vandenberg. At our firm, Hugh’s name is synonymous with community, pro bono and not-for-profit work. Hugh has a keen interest to “help out” and has established an identity in Canberra for providing services to the community and not-forprofit sector.

Hugh contributed more than 30 hours of pro bono legal work and close to 50 hours pro bono community work in the 2013/13 financial year. Hugh sits on the board of the Ozhelp Foundation Ltd, is a member of the Law Committee and Not for Profit Steering Committee of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a member of the Advisory Committee of ACT Healthy Workplaces (an ACT Government initiative), a mentor with the Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre’s Leading Lights Program and (our favourite) a Member of the Management Committee of the Dragon Flyers Dragon Boating Club. As well as being a Partner of the Corporate and Commercial Team, Hugh is also the driving force behind the Meyer Vandenberg Not-For-Profit Team and is the go-to guru for many lawyers here at Meyer Vandenberg who sit on the boards of community organisations.

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How it all began Upon moving to Canberra from Sydney some 10 years ago, and realising he knew no one in, and nothing about business in Canberra, Hugh joined the Canberra Business Council. After a number of years, and following extensive involvement with various subcommittees and submissions to the government on policy issues, Hugh was appointed to the Board of the Council. The position on this Board, and the people he met while working with the Council led him to become closely involved with community groups like Creative Partnerships Australia, ACT Branch of UN Women and the YWCA of Canberra, to name a few.


On being a board member

Being more than ‘just’ a lawyer

Hugh is currently a director of OzHelp Foundation, a mental health support organisation with a focus on suicide prevention in industry workplaces (see for more details). Directors have an obligation to make the interests of the organisation or company they work for a priority when considering strategies for fundraising, marketing and growth. It can be hard being a lawyer and a director. Hugh’s advice: it is important to be clear on where your role as a lawyer begins and where it ends.

Hugh stresses that he has always believed that all lawyers have an obligation to do more than just make money, due to the privileged position lawyers hold in the community and the in-demand skill set that lawyers possess. In spite of all the lawyer jokes, Hugh knows people still have a certain respect for lawyers and have particular expectations of them; “As a lawyer, your training, skills and benefits enable you to help people, whether it’s fee-paying clients or helping out not-forprofit organisations on a pro bono basis.”

Hugh believes that lawyers are an asset to any board. As a board member, Hugh classifies his role as an issue spotter, but not the issue solver. Hugh’s legal experience enables him to guide the organisations on issues of management, risk assessment and commerciality simply from having seen what can go wrong if these issues are mismanaged.

But it isn’t easy – your budget will not go away when you become more involved. If you feel you have an obligation to use your skills for a board position or to further a charity close to your heart then you have to allocate the time to do so. Hugh sympathises with the overworked lawyer in early years of practice and acknowledges that at different times in your life, you can give different amounts of time. Your priorities will change as time goes on and you will be exposed to other community groups, and other demands, depending on the stage of your life. While it requires an examination of the bigger picture, it is important to acknowledge that this work is not without reward. Hugh spoke of a number of times he was asked to provide pro bono assistance and, whilst not receiving fees for services, it resulted in a better familiarity and expertise in an area which in turn led to fee-paying work and greater career opportunities.

The other valuable trait that most lawyers can provide is impartiality. Lawyers can stand back and be objective – even when absolutely committed to a cause which they want to succeed. Ideally, lawyers are able to analyse beyond the emotional aspect of a situation, and can provide long-term supporters of an organisation with beneficial insight into the strengths and weaknesses of their business. Hugh recognises that a board role isn’t for everyone, and warns against entering into a board role too early in your career. Instead, he recommends connecting with an organisation and assisting with activities or events. One-off events are great for this sort of involvement as there is no ongoing commitment beyond the project itself, and individuals are able to develop skills in a number of different areas.

“I am the CEO of Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre (Lighthouse). The organisation is a business primer – it works with a broad range of individual entrepreneurs and businesses to develop ideas into businesses or to grow and diversify the course of existing businesses. In 2013, Lighthouse established a mentoring program called Leading Lights. A program aimed at matching experienced, senior business mentors with business intenders of all ages. Hugh volunteered to work with one of our older business intenders, Deb. The feedback we have received from Deb has been amazing, she cannot thank Hugh enough for helping her understand the nuances of business, particularly as an older business person moving into a very challenging area of working with young, socially disengaged members of the community.” - Anna Pino, CEO of Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre:

Above all, however, Hugh thinks it is important to understand what you really provide to the people you serve – trust. “While fee sheets and bills might appear to value time above all else; essentially, the most important element of what we do is trust. We are in the business of dealing in trust. This trust is built on the fact that, (1), we know what the law is or we can find out, and (2), we always have our client’s best interests at heart”.

Hugh’s advice Putting your hand up is the hardest thing and you don’t need to wait until you’re perfect at something to be useful because it never happens. The best thing to do is to jump in and talk to other people who have already had a go. Don’t forget, you’ve got to be driven by something you are interested in. “There’s no point in doing it just because you think you should do it. You have to have your heart in everything you do.” Hugh is one shining example of what can be achieved when your heart is in the right place.


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CHOSEN CHARITY PROGRAM Through our Chosen Charity Program, our staff members decide on a Canberra-focussed charity to support for the financial year. Once decided, we do everything we can to get behind our chosen charity: • We give money: We host a bevy of fundraisers throughout the year and donate all the money that we raise to our chosen charity. • We give our skills: We provide services on a pro bono basis and not just our legal service. In the past, we have assisted our chosen charities with advice on their administrative systems and finances. • We give ourselves: Meyer Vandenberg has a Volunteer Leave Program which gives every staff member one paid day of leave which they can use to volunteer for our chosen charity.

In 2012/13 we were thrilled to support “PatCH”, Paediatrics at the Canberra Hospital. PatCH consists of several clinical areas in the Canberra Hospital - a 40 bed inpatient ward, a day stay/surgery unit, outpatient clinics and administration and research areas. In 2012/13, instead of just raising money towards an oversized novelty cheque, we worked towards purchasing a muchneeded piece of medical equipment to help the staff and patients at the neonatal ward of the Canberra Hospital. After liaising with the staff at PatCH, it was decided that we would raise funds to purchase a neonatal blood pressure machine.

“Currently we have to borrow the machine from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to attend the observations of very small infants. Having our own piece of equipment located within Paediatrics would result in a more streamlined service for the infants and their family.” Katie McKenzie, Director of Nursing, PatCH.

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FUNDRAISING We worked hard to coordinate and host fundraising events to raise the money required for a brand new neonatal blood pressure machine for our chosen charity, PatCH.

Floor Hosted Events Meyer Vandenberg is split over 3 floors of our building (Levels 2, 3 and 5). When it comes to fundraising there is a playful rivalry between each floor, with each floor trying to take out the coveted title of “fundraising floor of the year.” So when each floor hosts a firm-wide fundraising event, they really pull out all the stops to make it a great success.

Level 2 Mexican Fiesta

Level 2 kicked off the floor based fundraising in 2012 by hosting a Mexican fiesta. They had every type of tortilla, corn chip, burrito and filling. More than 40 people attended to enjoy food, drink and music - Mexican style. The supply of nachos seemed to be never-ending and all the level 2 señores and señoritas worked tirelessly to pull off a fantastic event.

“Organising the Mexican Fiesta was great fun – it helped me get to know everyone on my floor better, discover new culinary talent, and was clearly enjoyed by everyone lucky enough to grab a burrito (or three). The best thing about it was that our team contributed both their time and their supplies to make the event run smoothly, and we were able to raise even more money to support our chosen charity.” Tessa Dignam, Lawyer

Level 5 Bacon and Egg Breakfast

“On a fine February morning staff members from Level 5 arrived at the Meyer Vandenberg offices bright and early to cook up a storm of bacon and egg rolls. These rolls were not just to fill the bellies of Meyer Vandenberg’s hungry employees, but also to fill the belly of Level 5’s resident fundraising piggy bank - Kevin Bacon”


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Level 3 Tea Lady Fundraiser

“Over the past year it has come to our attention that the staff members of Meyer Vandenberg are not only great at their jobs, but also excellent bakers. With that in mind and with the dreaded 30 June fast approaching, Level 3 decided it was time to bring back the ‘tea lady’ whose role it was to provide tea and delightful snacks to boost the morale of soldiers during times of war (also known as the End of Financial Year!).

These were no run-of-the-mill bacon and egg rolls – donations were made by team members from across the floor, which included free range eggs from people’s chickens and organic tomatoes from people’s gardens. The option of gluten free bread rolls also ensured that no tummies went empty. The rolls were ‘make yourself’ so even the vegetarians were happy with their ‘no-bacon and egg rolls’. The breakfast kicked off at 8:00 am, and with a queue almost out the door the cooks had their hands full keeping up with the demand for the delicious produce. This resulted in a midmorning dash to the supermarket for more supplies. When all the yummy rolls had been eaten, Meyer Vandenberg’s satisfied workforce began their busy days with smiles on their faces. Kevin Bacon didn’t end up with egg on his face either – he was stuffed with over $130 which had been raised, and was pleased to donate it all to PatCH.”

So one Wednesday morning, our terrific volunteer bakers donated a bunch of scrumptious treats to the cause. We had everything from choc chip cookies to savoury scones, a mix of treats that left no one hungry. At 11.30 am the trolley was loaded with all the goods and our two tea ladies donned their aprons and delivered the treats to anxiously awaiting staff. After indulging in a few goodies, the staff were satisfied and ready to get back to work. The left over snacks were available for purchase later in the day to keep the notorious 4 pm afternoon slump at bay and give everyone the extra boost they needed to get through the afternoon. A gold coin donation per treat ensured that Level 3’s fundraising piggy bank, SpiderPig, didn’t go hungry either – he was feed with a generous $260 which we happily donated to PatCH.”

Clair Donovan, Senior Executive Assistant.

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Christina Berlis, Conveyancing Clerk.

Recycled Reads Event (PatCH and Lifeline)

Other Fundraising We have fundraising events consistently throughout the year; with mufti days and raffles organised every month. Of particular note, this past year has uncovered a bunch of master chefs in the making who have been selling their wares to raise funds for our charity. We have had cookie drives, morning teas and brownie sales to fill our tummies and our fundraising piggie banks.

In September 2012, the Meyer Vandenberg Library Service held a fundraising event “Recycled Reads”, where staff donated their good books for other staff to browse and buy. Our Knowledge Manager, Alison Jones, explains:

“2012 was designated as the Australian National Year of Reading. An event encouraging recreational reading amongst the staff, which simultaneously raised money for our Meyer Vandenberg charity for 2012, PaTch, was an ideal way for the firm to mark the year. Thanks to the generosity of many staff, we had a wide range of high quality books from which to select on the day and we raised over $100 for PaTch. In addition, we donated any leftover books from the event to Lifeline ACT for their famous book fair, thereby assisting two great local charities through the one event.” Alison Jones, Knowledge Manager

Christmas Party Silent Auction Our most profitable fundraising event is the annual silent auction. The silent auction is held at the Meyer Vandenberg Christmas party each year (after a few festive beverages to really loosen those purse strings). Up for auction are items and “experiences” generously donated by our partners. Some of the big-ticket items from the 2012 silent auction included: super VIP tickets to the Brumbies home game donated by Stephanie Lynch, a series of 5 mountain biking skills group sessions with a professional instructor followed by a guided ride with Geoff Adams and a skiing weekend package with accommodation, lessons and guided tour of the slopes generously donated by Greg Brackenreg. The silent auction raised over $2,000 for our charity.


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New partner Geoff Adams came to Meyer Vandenberg in 2012. Upon his arrival, he got talking with our Commercial Team and found that, like him, a lot of the staff and clients shared a common love of cycling.

Many of us here at Meyer Vandenberg enjoy donning the lycra and hopping on our pushies so we thought what better way to raise some money then get outdoors and get on our bikes! With Partners Alice Tay and Geoff Adams championing the idea, the event grew from getting a few of us together for a group ride along O’Connor Ridge to what became the BBMV - a firm-wide event with over 100 attendees. The BBMV was our major fundraiser for 2012/13, held at Mount Stromlo on a Friday afternoon after work on 1 March; we invited the whole Meyer Vandenberg community – staff, clients, friends and families. The event was a great success. To take advantage of the fantastic location, Mount Stromlo Forest Park, we organised both a road bike and mountain bike course (medium difficulty) for the adults, led by our in-house pro riders Geoff Adams, Daniel Burnet and Ben Fuller. These rides were promoted as “social rides” but we could see the competitiveness kick in after that first lap! We had entertainment for the kiddies including face painting and craft and a very popular kids mountain bike coaching clinic run by Mic Longhurst of Dynamic Motivation, a sausage sizzle, lots of fun and laughter and a visit from the PatCH platypus mascot. The Trek Bicycle Corporation were also keen to support the event and donated a mountain bike which was raffled off in the evening. The event raised over $870 for PatCH.

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VOLUNTEERING At Meyer Vandenberg we offer our staff “Volunteer Leave” – that is, one day of leave per year which is to be used to volunteer at events supporting our chosen charity for that year. We liaise with representatives from our chosen charity throughout the year and advertise opportunities for our staff members to get involved and use their Volunteer Leave to help out. We have had a fantastic time working with PatCH over the past year, some memorable volunteer opportunities included:

Newborn November at COSTCO The Canberra Hospital attends to more than 2,700 of the 5,600 births in the Territory each year. Up to 650 of these babies are born prematurely or are critically ill and require specialist care from the highly skilled and dedicated medical staff at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The Canberra Hospital Foundation sought out volunteers to attend Costco during the weekends of November to collect donations from customers as they enter the store.

Meyer Vandenberg was all too happy to answer the call. Eight MVers (Fee Knights, Rod Anthes, Justine Harper, Angie Gerrie, Kim Moore, Courtney Noble and Nandita Chopra) volunteered to head out to Costco on their weekend to collect money from the happy shoppers.

“I was quick to put my hand up to volunteer at the Costco Newborn November campaign and I had a fantastic time doing so. While I volunteered to seek donations for PatCH, I never thought I would avail services from Patch. But only weeks later my son lost part of his little finger and was looked after by PatCH. The staff at PatCH were amazing, so understanding, helpful, supportive and patient!! Far more than what I would expect from normal human beings. I guess God sends these Angels to look after us mere humans. I’m very proud of Meyer Vandenberg for supporting such a great cause.” Nandita Chopra, Credit Controller

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Southern Cross Ten Give Me 5 For Kids Telethon Each year Southern Cross Ten hosts a national fundraiser, Give Me Five for Kids, to raise money to allow local Children’s Wards to purchase much needed medical equipment. In Canberra, Southern Cross Ten team up with our good friends at PatCH to raise money to purchase equipment for the paediatric, neonatal, postnatal and children outpatient services at the Canberra Hospital. When PatCH asked us if we would be interested in volunteering to answer the phones at the Southern Cross 10 studio, we were keen to help out (and get our faces on TV!). We had 12 staff members go along throughout the day – helping to raise over $80,000 for PatCH.

“It was great to be able to assist in taking donations, not only because of how fun the organisers made the fundraising event but to see how much the community got involved and wanted to help raise funds for such a worthy cause – watching that little number on the white board creep up was fantastic.” Mary Trimboli, Executive Assistant


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MEYER VANDENBERG IN THE COMMUNITY As the largest independent law firm in Canberra, Meyer Vandenberg has a strong presence in the local community. We encourage all members of staff to get involved in their community through voluntary positions with not-for-profit organisations, participating in community events or just being an active member of their local sports teams. Our staff members are a busy bunch and we’re very proud of the contributions that they make to the community. Some interesting examples from the past year include: • Alice Tay, Partner – Sits on the board of the Gambling and Racing Commission and is a member of its Audit Committee. Alice is also on the board of the Commonwealth Club and Chairs its Membership Committee. • Alisa Taylor, Senior Associate – Board member of The Street Theatre – Canberra; Member of the National Association of Women in Construction, Member of the Housing Industry Association and the Society of Construction Law Australia. • Alison Jones, Knowledge Manager – Coordinator of “State News” for the journal Australian Law Librarian. • Alyce King, Executive Assistant – Performs drama with the Tuggeranong Arts Centre. • Archie Tsirimokos, Managing Partner – Chairman of the Board of Communities@Work and Deputy Chair of the Canberra Business Council. • Ben Fuller, Partner – Director of Tennis ACT, Director of the Olivia Lambert Foundation, Member of the ACT Division of the Executive Divisional Council of the Property Council of Australia and Deputy Chair of the ACT Division of the Planning Committee of the Property Council of Australia.

• Hugh Chalmers, Partner – Board Member of the Ozhelp Foundation Ltd, Member of the Law Committee and Not for Profit Steering Committee of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Member of the Advisory Committee of ACT Healthy Workplaces, Mentor with the Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre’s Leading Lights Program and Management Committee Member of Dragon Flyers Dragon Boating Club. • John Morrissey, Associate – Sits on the ACT Health Human Research Ethics Committee. • Jonathan Devenish, Lawyer – Director of Community Connections Incorporated and ACT Committee Member of FutureNet. • Jordan Gavin, Lodgement Clerk – Plays on the Canberra Knights Ice Hockey Team. • Kimberley Baillie, Senior Lawyer - Sits on the ACT Health Human Research Ethics Committee. • Kim Moore, Senior Lawyer – Tutor at the Australian National University, Member of the YWCA Canberra and Member of the National Association for Women in Construction. • Kristen Porter, Senior Lawyer – Assistant and advisor for Fashfest Canberra and Member of the YWCA Canberra.

• Bernice Ellis, Associate - Board Member of Community Programs Association (“LEAD”). • Christine Murray, Partner – Member of the University of Canberra Devils Hockey Team. • Deborah Mackenzie, Associate – Junior Coordinator, Manager of U13/1 Boys and Mens State League 1 Teams for the Western Districts Hockey Club and International Food Stall Co-ordinator and Canteen Volunteer for St Matthew’s Primary School. • Emma Vautin, Paralegal – Member of the Canberra Premier League Squash Competition. • Greg Brackenreg, Partner – Vice President of the ACT Law Society and Member of the Canberra Off-Road Cycle Club.

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• Nicholas Dahlstrom, Lawyer – Volunteer Member of the Hall Rural Fire Brigade and “Run Scoring Machine” for the ACT RUC Ravens Cricket Team

Sponsorship Meyer Vandenberg as a firm is also keen to support the local community and have provided financial sponsorship for a range of great community initiatives, including: • The Australian National University Debating Society

• FutureNet – an initiative for young professionals working in the built environment; • The UN Women’s International Women’s Day 2013; • Maxim Chartered Accountants Tennis Invitational Charity Day supporting the George Gregan Foundation; • The Ricky Stuart Foundation Golf Day • Sally Pinder, Training Coordinator – Senior teacher at Pointe2Pointe dance school.

• The Special Olympics Swim Meet and Sportsman’s Lunch; and

• Stephanie Lynch, Partner – Coach of U10s and U12s Wests basketball team and Board Member of Basketball ACT.

• The St Vincent DePaul CEO Sleepout; and

• Tessa Dignam, Lawyer - Player and referee with Touch Football ACT.

• The Property Council of Australia ACT Pedal Pursuit (Our own Greg Brackenreg, Ben Fuller and Daniel Burnet also entered the event as the Meyer Vandenberg Team)


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OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH LEAD At Meyer Vandenberg we are truly committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace and that’s why we value our partnership with LEAD Employment. A part of the Australian Government’s Disability Employment Services, LEAD Employment provides recruitment and employment support for people who have a disability. Our partnership with LEAD is multifaceted - We are a panel member of LEAD providing advice on organisational governance and financial management; we also provide ad hoc legal assistance on a pro bono basis and Meyer Vandenberg’s Bernice Ellis, Associate, sits on the board of LEAD. LEAD also recruited our Junior Office Assistant, Tom Case, back in 2011. With LEAD’s assistance, Tom is now an invaluable asset to the firm and we have no idea how we ever managed without him!

In fact, our involvement with LEAD and the Disability Employment Services is so successful that it has been used by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to showcase the services available to employers and to provide information on changes to the Disability Employment Services. The informative video featuring our Practice Manager, Tanya Berlis can be viewed at

“LEAD has been working closely with the staff at MV for the last three years …. The staff are professional but practical with their support. They always come abreast of pertinent current issues such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the changes associated with the new Charities Commission. By participating as a member of the Board of LEAD, staff at MV, are aware of the breadth of issues that are experienced in the community services sector and the governance responses that are required. It is also important to note that MV are not only very generous with their support of the not for profit sector but they also take the opportunity to take back to their work things that they learn along the way. Since working with our organisation MV have provided disability awareness training to all of the staff in their office and have provided employment to a person with a disability”.

Keryl Neville, Chief Executive Officer - LEAD

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For the past 3 years Meyer Vandenberg has participated in the Red Cross Corporate & Community Challenge. We have a team of 18 staff members who regularly donate blood (our “Club Red Team”). We are in regular contact with the Red Cross and notify our Club Red Team when the Red Cross Blood Service Donor Mobile Unit is nearby so we can all go along and donate blood and plasma. In 2012/13 our Club Red Team made 15 donations of whole blood which saved 45 lives. This placed us equal second in the legal sector category of the Corporate & Commercial Challenge.

Our local blood donating super star, Kim Moore, Senior Lawyer in our Construction Dispute Resolution Team, made a total of 14 donations of whole blood or plasma.

“Red liquid gold! Blood donations are so important for many people in society and once again MV rolled up its sleeves (literally) to give blood throughout 2012-2013. Fortunately for us, the mobile donor unit frequently visits the ANU which is only a hop, skip and jump from the MV office. Undoubtedly the best part of giving blood (other than helping others of course) is the complimentary cheese, fruit cake and mars bars. Hook me up!” Nick Dahlstrom, Lawyer


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OUR MVIRONMENT In the past year we have continued our commitment to maintaining a sustainable workplace through reducing the environmental impact of our offices. Being recognised as an ACTSmart accredited workplace requires us to maintain and improve on our waste management practices and sustainability initiatives. Following an inspection on 19 June 2013, Meyer Vandenberg was reaccredited with the ACTSmart program for 2013/2014. This process involved: • Conducting an audit of our waste and recycling output and quantifying the amount of waste we produce each week; • Inspecting our internal and external waste areas to assess the integrity of the waste/recycling items we produce; • Being interviewed by an ACTSmart assessor to discuss our internal training program and other staff initiatives; and • Reducing (or at least, not increasing) the amount of waste produced by the firm.

In addition to the formal ACTSmart assessment process, we continue to make changes to improve our MVironmental credentials. Some notable changes we have made in past year are: • Purchasing additional crockery and cutlery for our kitchens and function rooms to avoid using single use plastic plates and thereby reducing our waste to landfill; • Replacing our printers with models which are more energy efficient, and include integrated faxing facilities. This function means we can now dispose of (by recycling, of course) our old-style fax machines, which were responsible for a huge percentage of our energy use. • Changing our supplier for organic waste collection. Our new supplier provides pedal operated bins lined with newspaper, and not bags, weekend collections, and monthly reporting. This has been one of the most welcome changes of the past year as it has drastically reduced the funky smell in the kitchens which in turn encourages staff members to recycle. We have a way to go yet! After getting an honourable mention at the 2013 ACTSmart Awards in the Corporate category, we have been inspired to develop some initiatives to encourage staff (with the necessary incentives) to engage even more with the ACTSmart program.

Earth Hour Meyer Vandenberg has been supporting Earth Hour since 2009, both as a firm and as individuals. Earth Hour is a WWF initiative symbolising the collective power of individuals, businesses and governments to reduce our impact on this planet. With the support of our building managers, at 8:30pm on Saturday 23 March, Meyer Vandenberg (along with the other occupants of our building at 1 Farrell Place) turned off all our non-essential lights and electrical equipment. We also reminded and encouraged our staff members to participate in Earth Hour at home. Earth hour is a great way to show individuals how a simple commitment can make a real difference to energy consumption. At Meyer Vandenberg, this is complemented by our internal signage which remind staff to turn off lights, and reduce water usage.

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Walk to Work Day What a blast! You would think a spatter of rain would deter our staff from donning their red and white polos and strutting their stuff on the streets of Canberra, but not on this day. Just under 15 Meyer Vandenberg staff signed up to meet at various locations around Canberra to run, hop and skip into work. The journey (whether a run, walk, or leisurely stroll) was followed by breakfast at the local café, where we indulged in appropriate quantities of caffeine and egg and bacon rolls to make the early start to the day more bearable.

“Walk to Work Day was just one of the many community events that Meyer Vandenberg not only participated in but also encouraged others to partake in. It’s so nice to be part of a firm with such a great culture.” Silvana Moro, Administrative Assistant.


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RECYCLING REPORT The ACTSmart audit process is a fantastic way to get a better understanding of the real impact of your decision to walk your paper coffee cup to the recommended bin, or separate your organics after lunch. The graph below shows the division of the waste we produced at Meyer Vandenberg during the last year. While landfill still represents a significant portion of our waste, it has decreased by 6% from our initial audit in 2012. Mixed recycling now represents 30% of our total waste (from 0% in 2012) and our organic waste now amounts to 2% of our overall waste.

In the next year we aim to : Alert staff on the appropriate separation of paper and secure paper; Provide incentives for staff to use our mixed-use recycling facilities; and Introduce recycling competitions between the different floors.

30% 53% 2%


Waste and Landfill 205.9 m3 Secure Recycling 56.2 m3 Organic Waste 6.2 m3 Mixed Recycling 114.4 m3

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Level 3, 1 Farrell Place, Canberra City ACT 2601 T (02) 6279 4478 | F (02) 6279 4455

MV - Community Engagement Report 2013