Beryl Donkin Memorial Scholarship Fund Recipients

Meet the past recipients of the Beryl Donkin Memorial Scholarship.

Jessica Purcell 

“Having worked in social security and welfare services whilst studying my law degree, I was always intent on applying my skills and knowledge for the benefit of the more vulnerable members of our community.

After working in family law and child protection post admission, I decided to complete a Masters in Applied Laws (Family Law and Family Dispute Resolution) and commence my own practice to focus on supporting families and offering a collaborative and holistic service to mitigate the impacts of the family law system on families.

Despite this somewhat utopian ideal, I very quickly found that our system does not always provide the best options for our families and, moreover, the best path to resolution for the children involved in separation.

The WLAQ provided me with funding from the Beryl Donkin Scholarship grant to allow me to complete my training as an Independent Children’s Lawyer, something I was unsure I could afford to do as a sole practitioner in a new practice.

The grant has not only afforded me the opportunity to progress toward working as an Independent Children’s Lawyer and providing a necessary and valuable resource to better support our challenging family law system, but it provided me with education in the needs of children experiencing separation that has had immediate impacts on my work with my clients and how we most appropriate address their matters.

Although the number of women in law has grown exponentially since I commenced my studies some years ago, and despite the value and benefit this has brought to the profession and our ability to assist our clients, I am still very well aware of the challenges we face as women in the profession.

It is for this reason that, in supporting and empowering women practitioners to build brilliant and satisfying careers, the WLAQ continues to hold such a necessary and important role.”

Madeleine Stone

Madeleine is a Barrister at the Queensland Private Bar practicing predominantly in industrial relations and commercial litigation.

She was one of the recipients of the Beryl Donkin Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2022.

Madeleine used the Scholarship to enroll in the ARITA Advanced Certification – a year-long post-graduate level specialist accreditation in insolvency and restructuring, delivered in partnership with UTS. She will complete the course by late 2023.

Although still early in her studies, the course has already allowed Madeleine to deepen not only her technical knowledge, but also her practical understanding of the pre-litigation role and functions of insolvency practitioners. It has also provided the opportunity to network and connect with other insolvency practitioners practicing in both law and accounting.

Madeleine is grateful for the financial support offered by the Scholarship which allowed her to enroll in the course early in her career at the Bar and which will give her a competitive edge as junior counsel.

Applying for the Scholarship was one of the easiest and best career decisions Madeleine has made and she encourages all women who are interested to apply.

Hollie Wiffen

“I have always been passionate about a career in law and have worked in the legal industry since the age of 17. I started my legal career working as a receptionist/clerk and have worked in a variety of roles and practice areas, within both the private sector and for State and Federal Government, including at Crown Law, the Supreme and District Courts and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. Whilst working full-time in the legal industry, I completed high school and went on to study my Bachelor of Laws full-time, before graduating with first class honours in 2016. I am presently employed as a Senior Federal Prosecutor with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and prosecute matters involving organised crime, drug importation, money laundering, child exploitation and counter-terrorism.

I am honoured to have been one of the first recipients of the Beryl Donkin Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship allowed me to complete the Bar Practice Course in 2023. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have been able to undertake such a practical, engaging and rigorous course and further refine my written and oral advocacy skills.

I am deeply appreciative of the support that the Women Lawyers Association of Queensland provides to women, in particular their focus and dedication to advancing women in the law. I have attended a number of the WLAQ’s industry events and have participated in the annual mentoring program. I have found these opportunities invaluable in expanding my network and advancing my career. “

Rebecca Hansen

“I am the recipient of a Beryl Donkin Memorial Scholarship towards my Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner training with the College of Law. I am doing this training as part of a Master of Laws (Applied Law) majoring in Family Dispute Resolution Practice and Family Law.

Becoming an FDRP will allow me to combine my experience in Family Law, Child Protection, and complex negotiations with my passion for securing better outcomes for children in the family law process. With the quality of the training at the College of Law, not only do I feel confident stepping into this role, I feel it will also enhance my practice as a family lawyer.

I am grateful to the Women Lawyers Association of Queensland for their support.”

Shona Stromer

“As a second-year solicitor, I am undertaking the Graduate Certificate of Applied Law majoring in Wills and Estates as a useful step to support my understanding of complex areas of law I experience in my every day practice in a specialist succession law firm. With the College of Law, I am able to select units of interest to begin my postgraduate study journey out of the Wills and Estates Masters of Laws (Applied Law) course. I believe this course will enable me to confidently advise clients as I deepen my understanding of practical matters that I can immediately apply in practice. Another benefit is the ability to study online and part-time which, as a mother of two working full-time, will enable me to complete my studies at my own pace”

Nicole Elliott

“Having worked in a private mediation services practice since being admitted as a solicitor two years ago, I have learned the importance of early dispute resolution in various areas of law. I am fortunate to have fantastic women in my workplace who have mentored me and helped me increase my knowledge through practice and participation in the dispute resolution process.

In 2022 I was awarded First Class Honours with my major dissertation focusing on trauma-informed training for Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners, assessing suitability of mediations, and how family violence can impact the mediation process.

While studying, I became passionate about finding ways to assist those experiencing domestic violence to participate safely in mediation, and the importance of trauma-informed practice in all areas of dispute resolution. My goal is to assist those who would most benefit from early dispute resolution to find a safe way forward.

I am pleased to be a recipient of the Beryl Donkin Memorial Scholarship in 2023 which is vital to my continuing development within the profession. The Scholarship will allow me to become a Nationally Accredited Mediator and to pursue my goal of becoming a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.”