10/08/2004 - 22:00

Chong proves herself a cut above

10/08/2004 - 22:00


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Crown Prosecutor Patti Chong is an individual who rarely conforms or complies with others’ opinion of what she should be or how she should behave.

Chong proves herself a cut above

Crown Prosecutor Patti Chong is an individual who rarely conforms or complies with others’ opinion of what she should be or how she should behave.

Quite often, in fact, she does what’s least expected.

For example when her trademark hair became the subject of talkback radio discussion earlier this year, Ms Chong decided to use the publicity for a good cause.

The self-described “Chinese Tina Turner” promptly shaved off her notorious locks as part of her work as a fundraiser for the Leukaemia Foundation.

In the process Ms Chong has become the foundation’s highest-ever individual fundraiser, bringing in $72,500 so far.

“Becoming the highest individual fundraiser for the foundation has to be one of the highlights for me as a person,” Ms Chong said.

“I certainly have used my high profile as a Crown prosecutor to raise the money.”

Ms Chong was born in Malaysia to Chinese parents and came to Australia at the age of 17. She did her articles with Legal Aid and worked with the Government Solicitor’s Office for nine years before joining the DPP.

“I love trials, the adrenalin, the need to give victims their day in court,” she said.

“I try to empathise with both the victims and the accused.”

Evidence of the respect for Ms Chong on both sides of the law comes in the form of cards she has received from people she has sent to prison, thanking her for prosecuting a fair trial.

And the acting assistant commissioner of crime investigation has written a letter to the director of public prosecutions advising him of the “outstanding dedication to duty, professionalism, and compassion shown” by Ms Chong.

Although she doesn’t believe she can name her greatest achievement as a lawyer, that letter was a high point for her.

“It actually sums up the person I am and which I hope other people see me as – compassionate, dedicated, professional, fair and passionate about what I do,” she told WA Business News.

Ms Chong said she had no role model for her career, but that there were many people she admired and whose good qualities she tried to emulate.

“One of them is Justice Christine Wheeler in the Supreme Court. Her amazing intellect, grace and friendliness never cease to amaze me and if I can be close to one hair’s breath of her achievements, I would be content,” she said.

Among her future plans Ms Chong includes the desire to be the first female Chinese judge in Australia.

“Multiculturalism is not all about chop suey and sweet and sour pork, but should include ethnic diversity in all echelons of society, including the judiciary,” she said.

“Our judiciary cannot be said to be truly representative of our community when it is wholly Caucasian, mostly male and Protestant/Catholic when WA has one of the highest composition of Asians and people from non-Christian faiths.

“When you lobby for change, people who disagree with you just give you labels.”

Ms Chong believes that, as an ethnic woman graduating from UWA in 1980, she was lucky to get offered articles.

“I am a self motivator and inspired myself to do things so that I can inspire others,” she said.

“Many people – strangers – stop me in the streets and supermarket to tell me they are inspired by me and inspired by my work as a Crown prosecutor.

“I hope that women from my time are now the role models for the younger practitioners coming out in to practice.”


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