Conferencing in a Covid world

IAWJ 2021 

Although our borders remain largely closed, it didn’t stop over 1000 judicial officers from around the globe coming together to enhance their learning and strengthen their connections at the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) Conference in Auckland last month.

The IAWJ conference is held every second year to share experiences and ideas for best practice in areas such as promoting human rights and combating domestic violence, discrimination and gender bias, both within the judiciary and the world at large.

With the theme ‘celebrating diversity’, it was fitting that the 2021 conference attracted such a wide range of speakers and attendees with over 90 jurisdictions represented. The Judicial Pacific Participation Fund (JPPF) supported 56 female judicial officers from around the Pacific to virtually attend. Some came together in a shared space to recreate the camaraderie that a conference can bring; sharing kai and sharing experiences while others attended singularly from home.

In one of the keynote sessions, Family Court Judge Mary O’Dwyer led a question-and-answer segment where five senior judges were asked about the obstacles they’d encountered on their way to the top, and how they were championing diversity on their respective benches. Read their responses as published in LawNews.

The session on alternative courts included speakers from around the world talking about how they have approached alternative courts in their various jurisdictions. Justice Ali Shah from Pakistan explained how they took a gendered lens to establishing a dedicated gender-based violence court, Judge Marlo Malagar delivered harrowing statistics from the Philippines illustrating the inequities of the female experience in incarceration. Magistrate Pauline Spencer explained the evolution of thinking about alternative courts in Victoria, Australia while New Zealand Judge Denise Clark talked about the work she has led with Te Kooti Rangatahi -- youth courts held on marae --  and Judge Jane McMeeken discussed the Christchurch Youth Court and the work being done to consider the wellbeing and best interests of youth to improve both their prospects and potential contribution to society. In the final session, Judge Rosella Papalii talked about the use of Drug Courts in Samoa. Read the full article published by the New Zealand Law Society.

Although participating in conferences virtually is a new thing to many of us, sharing experience and learning is still beneficial. We share some feedback from our Pacific IAWJ participants:

‘It was an excellent experience for me meeting so many women judges from all over the world. I enjoyed and learned so much from other participant's experiences and issues. I especially like the Regional Forum where I got to meet my counterparts from other Asian and Pacific countries. I hope RMI could have more women judges so we could organize our in country group. I hope to be a part conferences of the IAWJ's in the near future. Thank you.’
‘It was a very useful conference, new things/ topics I learned from the sessions, this includes human rights, ways a judge can apply when LGBQT person(s) comes to court, barrier women faced when accessing justice etc. The conference gives me new ideas, skills and knowledge that are useful to my roles and responsibilities as a woman magistrate.’

‘There are many experiences and issues that were mentioned, and which made me reflect on my professional career and the environment within which I am working.’

‘It was eye-opening to learn about the IAWJ and the member associations, and the network/resources available through them - we will reach out to learn more about the membership requirements and decide whether or not we set up a association of women judges. It was inspiring to learn about and get ideas from the initiatives women judges have underway all over the world.’

‘The benefit of being away from everything else also allowed us to reflect on the predicament of our other Sisters from the Pacific especially our Sisters from PNG and India with COVID-19 and Afghanistan from violent and senseless killing.’

‘Staying together also cemented ties as coming together and bonding is a rarity because of our own work and personal commitments.’

‘I thank you for the idea of coming together in one central place to participate in IAWJ meeting. It was not until we came together and participated and bonded that we realized that it is so important for us as a group to meet and discuss issues pertaining to the development of women judges and judges in general.’

CMJA Conference Sept 12-15 2021

As we look ahead to future conferences, the Commonwealth Magistrates' and Judges' Association (CMJA) is also hosting its 2021 conference virtually. With the theme, ‘post-pandemic innovations’, the conference takes place September 12-15 2021. You can read the CMJA programme here.

If you wish to attend JPPF can assist with registration fees but spaces are limited. Please discuss with your head of bench, and complete our quick Application for professional development opportunity form. But please do not register on the conference website until you hear back from us. We have particular instructions regarding payment that you will need to follow when registering. The cut-off date for seeking financial assistance to attend is Monday 5 July and decisions about funding will be made soon after. We may not be able to provide financial assistance if you apply after that date. 

If you have further questions or problems accessing our form, please contact us.

... and we're live!

Kia ora koutou katoa from Aotearoa/New Zealand. I hope you've had a restful break over the Christmas period. The JPPF team and I are very happy to share the news that our new website is now live and ready for your use.

Please read on to discover the resources we have developed and those that are underway. Please feel free to share this newsletter and our website with your colleagues. Get in touch if you have resources you would like to see developed or skills to share. Let's hope this year is a more positive one for us all.

Ngā mihi nui
Tina Pope

2020-21 programme

As you may know, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent restrictions on travel between New Zealand and Pacific countries, JPPF has revised its approach to support Pacific judiciaries and courts.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade agreed to support the development of online resources and an extension of our mentoring programme.  These resources include:

  • a range of video and written support material that can be accessed by individual judicial officers and court staff, and tailored for locally-developed education programmes
  • the production of bench book materials, and
  • resources for local facilitators.

All the resources for lay judicial officers include facilitator notes and exercises so they can be picked up by visiting judges or a local facilitator supported by JPPF and conducted in country whenever suits – in regular short sessions or a longer programme developed using them.

These resources are available to all Pacific judicial offers and court staff who register on the JPPF website. The registration process is quick and easy, so register now and check out the resources

Te Kura Kaiwhakawā-Institute of Judicial Studies

The Institute of Judicial Studies has been renamed Te Kura Kaiwhakawā.  In addition to what we're creating specifically for Pacific judges, we've made available some of Te Kura's resources on a range of topics.  This includes several webinars from 2020's orientation series for new District Court judges, and on family violence. Many of these webinars have accompanying papers.  We've also included papers from programmes delivered to New Zealand judges over the past two years. Although these resources are targeted at New Zealand judges, they are relevant for Pacific judges as well, both new and experienced, legally-trained and lay.


We’re also developing a mentor programme to support the many New Zealand judges who are available now to support individual judicial officers and small groups of officers to work through the resources, to provide general mentoring support and to support facilitators to adapt and use the resources to run training in country. The next phase is to develop supporting materials for Pacific mentors and mentorees.

Any judicial officer can apply for mentoring directly through our website. If you work in a panel, then we encourage you to apply as a group.


The International Association of Women Judges conference 7-10 May 2021

The International Association of Women Judges conference that was to take place in 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand, will go ahead in May 2021. JPPF would like to support as many women judicial officers as possible to attend by video-conference. We will pay for registration and travel and accommodation within your own country so you can gather with your female colleagues to attend; and to take the opportunity to discuss issues affecting women judicial officers within your own country.  If borders are open between your country and New Zealand then we will support you to attend in person.  Arrangements are being finalised and we will post updates on our website. If you wish to attend, please discuss with your head of bench as soon as possible so that you can secure time off the court roster to attend.


We have capacity and funding to update/publish a small number of bench books. You can apply for bench book support directly through the online application form on our website.  All application forms can be filled in online or printed, scanned and returned by email.

Please invite your colleagues
We encourage you to share our website and this newsletter with your colleagues. Please explore the site and give us your feedback. If you know of other useful resources we could include develop, contact us and let us know.