Four lawyers have won John Monash Scholarships after being assessed on the basis of leadership, intellect and "likely impact on Australia".
Fergus Green, Anita George, Madeline Gleeson and Claudia Newman-Martin have taken out competition in the tenth year of the scholarship's operation.
Two hundred applications were received from around the country - with 60 of them gaining interviews at state level - prior to a final interview at a national level. Eight to 10 applicants then receive scholarships worth $50,000 per year for up to three years to study for a masters or PhD at any university outside Australia.
Fergus Green, who works at Allens Arthur Robinson as a climate change and environmental lawyer, is also the chairman of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership. Green was named Australian Young Lawyer of the Year by Lawyers Weekly in 2010 for his contributions to climate law and policy. With an Arts degree majoring in political science and a first-class honours degree in law, Green will now study a Masters in Philosophy and Public Policy and then a PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He plans to develop more effective climate change policies and governance frameworks.
George is a Tasmanian human rights lawyer who previously worked for Mallesons Stephen Jaques in Melbourne. She has volunteered in Ecuador and Burkina Faso and is currently a team leader for the Community Detention program at the Australian Red Cross in Tasmania. George, who holds honours in law and psychology and a diploma in French, has chosen to study a Master of Public Affairs at Sciences Po in Paris, with the hope of gaining an advisory role in Australian immigration policy upon her return.
Gleeson holds a bachelor of international studies and laws and a diploma of political studies from Sciences Po. She worked as a solicitor in Sydney firm Yeldham Price O'Brien Lusk and is now a lawyer for the Jesuit Refugee Service in Cambodia. Gleeson, who speaks Spanish and French, has chosen to study for a Masters of Laws at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. There, she plans to specialise in human trafficking law, people smuggling and refugee law with a view to contributing to such policy formation in Australia and the region.
Newman-Martin previously worked for Chief Justice Jim Spigelman, and now works for Chief Justice Tom Bathurst in the NSW Supreme Court. While studying for an arts/law degree, she also completed internships in India, working with Tamil refugees for the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre and, last year, with Native Title Services Victoria. She has also undertaken capacity building projects with teachers and students in Bangladesh, Bulgaria and Bosnia and was recognised as the best speaker in the world at the World Universities Peace Invitational Debating Tournament in 2010. Newman-Martin plans to study for a Master of Intentional Affairs at Columbia University.
Applicants for the scholarship, which is named after Monash for his achievements as an engineer, military leader and civic leader with a passion for education, must be Australian citizens, with an undergraduate degree from an Australian university.
Seventy four scholars have been awarded the scholarship to date, 36 of which have finished their courses, and 17 are back in Australia.
Former winners in the legal profession include Danielle Malek, senior legal council with the World Bank in Washington; Andrew Hudson, New York director of the advocacy firm Crisis Action; and David Hume, co-author with George Williams of People Power, a 2010 book on referenda in Australia.