Law and Justice Internship at the Equal Opportunity Commission

Emily Whenan

Over the summer break, I had the amazing experience of completing an internship at the South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission, as part of the Law School’s Law and Justice Internship program.

During my time at the Commission, I conducted research into conciliation, an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process that the Commission uses to resolve complaints of unlawful discrimination. I was able to observe the work of the Commission’s conciliators, interview conciliation staff at interstate human rights bodies, and detail my findings in both a report to the Commissioner and a presentation to the Commission’s staff. I’m passionate about both human rights and public law, so I greatly appreciated the opportunity to practically apply my legal research skills to the important work of the Commission.

Law students spend a lot of time analysing statutes, but their enforcement mechanisms – especially those that occur outside the courtroom – are often neglected. Through my research, I have come to appreciate the difficulty of designing an enforcement mechanism that provides accessible justice for the disputing parties, while also serving the public interest by enforcing and developing the law. The ability to critically analyse the law that I have developed will serve me very well for the rest of my law degree and beyond.                                                             

I would strongly recommend the Law and Justice Internship to any law student who wants to see what a career in public law might look like. The prospect of applying for an internship may seem daunting (it certainly was for me!), but there’s no need to worry: both course coordinator Dr Laura Grenfell and the staff at the Commission were incredibly helpful and supportive.

Thanks so much to EO Commissioner Dr Niki Vincent and everyone else at the Commission for taking time out of their very busy schedules to supervise Law School interns.

Emily Whenan

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