Taking up work in Bendigo has been a huge tree-change for city girl Jessica Duff, but one her family has embraced with relish as DAWN RASMUSSEN discovers.
FACING a daily three-hour commute to Melbourne’s CBD, Employment Law and Workplace Relations solicitor, Jessica Duff, thought there had to be something better in the way of work-life balance.
Trading the leafy suburbs of South-East Melbourne for the rural outskirts of a regional city has been a surprisingly smooth transition.
“Our menagerie of cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets are thrilled. Our son adores his St Francis of the Fields prep grade, mainly because of the pigs, chooks and amazing school grounds. It’s kid heaven,” Jessica says.
With a law degree under her belt and an arts degree in philosophy, Jessica did her articles at a Berwick firm, where she eventually became a partner. It was in Berwick that she first fell in love with the world of Employment Law in 2006 when WorkChoices was being introduced. “I couldn’t believe the variety of the work, and the many different scenarios that came up for small and medium enterprises. They were asking for help with bullying, contracts, unfair dismissal, restraint of trade, restructures, and HR issues in general”. The volatile world of employment law became her exclusive focus and she moved on to work within a well-regarded team of employment law specialists in Dandenong and then as an in-house advisor to a large employer association, before opening her own firm in 2012.
Walking in her clients shoes has been a great experience, and she loved operating her own business, but she missed working with like-minded professionals. Jessica is now thoroughly enjoying her work environment in Bendigo at Robertson Hyetts Solicitors especially her down-to-earth colleagues and employer clients “They are a breath of fresh air, never pretentious or arrogant, and always willing to see a different perspective on their employment issues,” Jessica adds.
“While most small business owners are fabulous at what they do, be it manufacturing, trades or professional services, managing people is a whole different area of expertise. Most employers try to do the right thing. They know it’s in their best interests to look after their workers, but if employment contracts and policies are not set up correctly from day one, then the result can be disastrous for the employer”.
For a bit of R&R away from work, Jessica is a music fanatic and was a member of Concordis Chamber Choir in Melbourne. She is looking forward to being able to find like-minded songsters here.
But there is one word of caution for these potential music lovers. Jessica is a Richmond supporter, and prefers the company of the Punt Road end fanatics most Saturdays.
This article was featured in the August 2014 edition of the Bendigo Enterprise Magazine – click the Enterprise icon to view