Anne O'Loughlin sitting with grey background
News 24 November 2017

Principal joins fight against domestic violence

Anne O’Loughlin has taken what could be considered an ‘untraditional’ route to her current position as Principal and Head of Family & Relationship Law at Coulter Legal, starting out her working life as a Community Corrections Officer with the Department of Justice before commencing her law degree at the age of 44 with three teenage children in tow.

Balancing the demanding degree with raising her family, Anne soon found that the process of securing a graduate lawyer position would prove tougher than the degree itself.

“I applied to 56 law firms but received rejection letters from 54 of the 56 and, despite being down to the last three for two of the applications, did not get either of those jobs. I had come to the conclusion that I would not have the opportunity to use the skills and knowledge I had obtained at university and was concerned that, as a mature age graduate, I would not find employment,” Anne said.

A chance meeting with then Coulter Legal Principal Vaughan Lamb at the races, however, changed everything.

“I got talking to Vaughan at the races and told him about my struggle to secure a graduate position. The next thing I knew, I had an interview for a family law role at Coulter Legal lawyers and the rest is history. Twelve years later, I am still here!”

Anne was appointed Principal and Head of Family & Relationship Law at the firm in 2013, and now manages a team of eight who work with married, defacto and same sex couples to provide sensitive and efficient resolution of what are often highly stressful matters.

Around four years ago, Anne became an Independent Children’s Lawyer– one of only four in Geelong – which means that she is appointed in cases where children have been affected by domestic violence, abuse, neglect, substance abuse, or parental mental health issues to assist the court in determining what is in the child’s best interests.

Anne has now proudly taken on a new role as an Advocate for White Ribbon Australia, working to promote gender equality, respectful relationships and the engagement of men in preventing domestic violence and encouraging gender equality.

“I probably have a unique perspective of the issue, having worked with both perpetrators and victims of domestic violence as, respectively, a Community Corrections Officer and a Family & Relationship Lawyer,” Anne said.

“My role as an Independent Children’s Lawyer has also given me significant insight into the effect of abuse, neglect and family violence on children and families,” Anne said.

“Like many regional areas, the Geelong community has been significantly impacted by domestic violence and it is imperative that the region benefits from the presence of strong advocates for gender equality, which is why I put my hand up for this role.”

“The pervasive nature of domestic violence and the potentially lifelong, detrimental impact of this scourge on victims is perhaps not as well appreciated as it could be. I would like to see positive action that makes a real difference to domestic violence rates in our community – better services for victims, effective rehabilitation measures for perpetrators, and more serious treatment of offenders by our judicial system reflected in longer sentences and more effective protection orders.”

Anne said that the most important role she had played, and will continue to play, in promoting gender equality and respectful relationships is in her own home.

“I have raised three children who are proud advocates for gender equality and understand the importance of speaking up against sexism and disrespectful behaviours,” Anne said.

“They are my proudest achievement.”

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