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On the record - the e-bulletin


Community Legal Centres: Community, Compassion, Justice
Issue #2 October 2006

Welcome to On the Record, the quarterly e-bulletin of the NSW Community Legal Centres. On the Record was historically a paper journal produced by the NSW Community Legal Centres network. This is our second edition of the new electronic version – an e-bulletin designed to communicate achievements and developments in Community Legal Centres from around NSW.

You can change which email address the e-bulletin goes to, and update other details by following the links below. For more information about On the Record, or any of the events happening in the Community Legal Centres, contact Jean Parker at the State Office of the Combined Community Legal Centres Group (CCLCG) jean_parker@clc.net.au or 9318 2355.

Content:


1. Editorial

2. Community Law

3. Human Rights in Action

4. CLC Events

5. What are the Community Legal Centres and What is CCLCG?

 

 

1. Editorial


10 years of the Justice Statement Centres:

Ten years ago following the Commonwealth’s Justice Statement, 5 new community legal centres (CLCs) were established in NSW – Mt Druitt & Area CLC, Central Coast LC, Western NSW LC, Northern Rivers CLC and North & North West Community Legal Service. It’s a cause for celebration that in spite of limited funding these centres have been able to service their communities by offering advice, casework, community legal education and law reform for the past ten years.

Community legal education and law reform- essential to our communities:

The high quality of services provided by community legal centres in NSW has been due to the unique combination of law reform, community legal education, casework and advice that CLCs undertake. Law reform and community legal education in particular, are core components of community legal centres work.  Without these elements, CLCs would not be able to assist the wide range of client groups with specific disadvantages as they do, or be able to address the structural barriers faced by community members across NSW in accessing justice.  CLCs work to improve the legal system for all, and this cannot be achieved without CLCs taking an active role in law reform and legal policy advocacy.

National community legal centre conference a big success:

The 2006 national conference of community legal centres was held in Wollongong in early September. CLC staff from around the country have returned to their centres with new levels of inspiration and energy. As always, the conference has provided an invaluable opportunity to forward the work of CLC staff in their own centres through networking and skill-sharing opportunities between people from around the country. This year there were excellent workshops on issues ranging from community legal education on credit and debt, to Aboriginal family violence, to human rights and disability. Well done to the numerous NSW CLCs that contributed their ideas and expertise to the conference, and to the Illawarra Legal Centre who played host. Proceedings and papers are available from the National Association of Community Legal Centres, contact Sarah Mitchell: sarah_mitchell@clc.net.au

2. Community Law:


Consumer Credit Fact Sheets:

On 22 August 2006, the Hon Diane Beamer, Minister for Fair Trading and Mr Geoff Mulherin, Director of the Law and Justice Foundation launched Consumer Credit Legal Centre (NSW) Inc's series of new and updated credit and debt fact sheets. The fact sheets cover the following topics: Need a Loan?,  Easy Money, Family Breakdown and Debt, Struggling with a debt? Debt Collection (NEW!) Refinancing (NEW!) They are available in Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Samoan, Vietnamese (NEW!), Bahasa Indonesia (NEW!) The fact sheets are now available on the CCLC website at http://www.cclcnsw.org.au.

Consumer Credit LC’s award-winning Arabic Radio Project is now also available online.  You can listen to the different segments and download the accompanying guide.  The fact sheets project and the web launch of the Arabic Radio Project were funded by the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW.  If you would like to find out more about this project or any of the education workshops, please contact Agnes Chong on (02) 8204 1360 or agnes_chong@clc.net.au

Northern Rivers runs GLBT awareness training:

In September Northern Rivers Legal Centre, in partnership with Northern Rivers ACON & the Northern Rivers Social Development Council presented a training session on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) awareness.  The training was directed at GLBT service providers and/or their clients and included sessions on how to create a welcoming environment when working with GLBT people; an overview of anti-discrimination laws in relation to GLBT people; responsibilities to staff, co-workers and clients under the legislation and how to respond appropriately within the workplace.

Community Legal Education Training:

With the assistance of a grant from the Law and Justice Foundation, CCLCG is providing Certificate IV Training for CLC workers on how to deliver innovative community legal education. This training is being held in partnership with the Tenant’s Union. A further workshop will be held in February 2007. For more information contact Nerissa Bradley: nerissa_bradley@clc.net.au

Women’s Legal Services NSW have presented 3 ‘Family Law Changes’ Forums,

held in Lidcombe, Sydney City and Lismore. All forums had a high level of attendance. The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Program Training & Resource Unit (WDVCAP TRU) have been presenting an advanced family law module of training, to Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Schemes, on the changes to Family Law.

Community development projects at Northern Rivers:

In August the Northern Rivers Mirrung Ngu Wanjarri Family Violence Awareness Project Worker, Nancy Walke, launched two major community development and education products. The first is a TV advertisement broadcast on local television with the theme of "its against the law and the lore"- focusing on the impact of family violence on children. The second is the creation of a set of "Strength Cards" designed by local Bundjalung women and designed for use in healing circles.

New Legal Theatre Project in the Illawarra:

The Honourable Diane Beamer, Minister for Fair Trading presented a cheque to the Illawarra Legal Centre Inc. to present once again the African Legal Theatre. This innovative community education program is looking at renting matters and uses the techniques of "playback" and audience interaction to explore useful strategies for resolving landlord and tenant disputes.

Northern Rivers assist the Sudanese Community with tenancy rights:

Northern Rivers LC have been working with members of the Sudanese community in Lismore to help raise awareness and understanding of tenants rights. CLC staff have gone along to community BBQs and met with people in their homes to talk about what it means to be a tenant in NSW.

Graffiti Forum:

The UTS CLC presented a forum on graffiti at UTS on the 5th of October. Peter Alexander facilitated the forum, which discussed the relationship between graffiti and concepts of Public and Private Space. The Centre has developed fact sheets on graffiti that will be available on the UTS CLC website at www.law.uts.edu.au/clc in November.

Macquarie Legal Centre client wins:

A client this month received a very favourable outcome when one of Macquarie Legal Centre’s solicitors, Clare Mangiokas pursued a Victims Compensation matter for her, in relation to 3 claims for victims compensation for domestic violence and sexual assault.  The client was awarded over $80,000.

Kingsford Legal Centre has a significant win in the AIRC

Belinda Morley, formally an employee of Qantas Holidays, came to Kingsford in May of last year in relation to her dismissal but, owing to significant personal difficulties, did not pursue her matter at the time. Ms Morley had suffered a serious illness then a serious injury which caused her to be absent from work from February to May 2005. She was then dismissed for her absences and ‘failure to provide appropriate documentation’. Kingsford LC considered the matter had merit given the reasons for Ms Morley’s absence at the time of the dismissal and that she had in fact provided documentation. Ms Morley sought reinstatement and compensation. The Commission upheld the application and ordered that our client be reinstated in February 2007 and awarded 21.2 weeks remuneration. Belinda Maree Morley v Qantas Holidays Limited (PR 973333 31 August 2006).

Shoalcoast Legal Centre wins in the Supreme Court:

Shoalcoast has recently had a win in the Supreme Court after appealing a Children’s Court of NSW decision. In this decision the Magistrate had alleged that the mother had no role to play in the proceedings bought by DoCS as the proceedings were for leave pursuant to s90 of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998.  Shoalcoast was successful on appeal, with Justice Sully stating that a leave application may still have a substantive character and may be open to challenge by parents or others in appropriate cases.  In this respect his Honour's decision differs from the prior decision of Re Edward (2001) 51 NSWLR 502.  The decision, Re Brett [2006] NSWSC 984, can be found at www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/caselaw.

Macquarie Legal Centre assists people in disputes with their builder:

Macquarie received a grant from the NSW Department of Fair Trading for the Home Building Advocacy Service (‘HOBAS’). The HOBAS is a pilot project designed to advise people in disputes with their builders.  Macquarie Legal Centre anticipates starting to advise clients through this scheme from January 2007.  

3. Human Rights in Action


Submissions to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal:

CCLCG and several CLCs made submissions on the Draft Report of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s investigation into “The Burden of Regulation in NSW”. The Draft Report failed to adequately address the importance of regulation in protecting both the wider community and people who experience disadvantage, in consumer, environmental planning, privacy and tenancy contexts.

Northern Rivers joins caravan park campaign:

The long-running Banora Point Caravan park closure case has been a focus for the Northern Rivers Tenants Advice & Advocacy Service in recent months. Following Ministerial intervention, a mediation was held between the parties, convened by Sir Laurence Street and some real inroads were made. NORTAAS is continuing to work with residents of this and other parks throughout the region facing closures as park owners succumb to the pressure of development potential in coastal areas.

Women’s Legal Services looks at new Crimes Amendment (Apprehended Violence) Bill:

On 6 September 2006 the bill was introduced into the NSW Legislative Assembly. Women’s Legal Services NSW has examined the bill and provided positive comments to media outlets and politicians. Importantly, the bill provides that a telephone interim order can be applied for 24 hours a day and expands the duration of these orders from 14 to 28 days. The bill allows the court to make ancillary property recovery orders on the granting of an Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) and has included protection for victims of sexual assault if required to give evidence in AVO proceedings. The bill has expanded the scope of ‘domestic relationship’ to recognise Indigenous kinship ties and has amended the definition of stalking so it is inclusive rather than exclusive. The bill is currently in the Legislative Council and has received support from most members of parliament.

Arts Law responds to changed Indigenous Communal Moral Rights Bill:

In response to the federal government indicating that a new version of the Indigenous Communal Moral Rights Bill will be introduced into Parliament shortly, Arts Law has questioned whether the inadequacies in the 2003 version of the Bill have been addressed.  Although the Bill is aimed at protecting Indigenous community ownership in an artist’s expression of traditional knowledge, the 2003 Bill makes it very difficult for communities to secure these rights. For more information contact artslaw@artslaw.com.au or phone 1800 221 457.

4. CLC Events


Tenant’s Union of NSW new premises:

After 20 years at Millers Point the Tenants' Union has moved to Surry Hills. They can now be contacted at: 1 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010 Phone: (02) 8117 3700 Fax: (02) 8117 3777. Email and website will remain unchanged.

Public Space (Journal for Law and Justice):

As an Australian first, the UTS CLC has established a refereed e-journal called Public Space the Journal of Law and Social Justice.  The inaugural edition, 'Sex and Mercy' will consider the role of positive emotions in law and in particular, reference is made to forgiveness and mercy in relation to sex offences – who has the right to forgive; the relationship between mercy and forgiveness. It will be published in open access format through UTS ePress in April 2007. If you are interested in contributing your thoughts on legal issues, please email your submissions to rocque.reynolds@uts.edu.au  closing date is 25 January 2007.

Welcome to Cara, the new Northern Rivers Women's Domestic Violence Court Assistance Scheme Indigenous Assistant:

Cara will provide support to women and children at Ballina Local Court. Cara will also make links with the local Indigenous community to expand and promote the services of the Northern Rivers CLC

Women’s Legal Services NSW supports the Reclaim the Night annual march:

Friday 27th October 2006 – all are invited to meet at 6pm on Sydney Town Hall steps for speakers and the start of the march to information stalls and a public concert.

Kingsford Legal Centre Turns 25!

The Kingsford Legal Centre is having a party on November 10 to celebrate 25 years of service to its community and to launch the book, "From the Roundabout to the Roundhouse - 25 years of Kingsford Legal Centre".   If you are an ex-student or are, or have been a volunteer solicitor at Kingsford and would like to come and help us celebrate our significant achievements, please email d.wasley@unsw.edu.au for an invitation.

UTS CLC Celebrates 10 years of accomplishment:

On the 19th of October the UTS CLC held a morning tea under the banner “TEN YEARS CAN MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE...” to mark the 10th anniversary of the centre's opening.

The Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre launch and 25th anniversary:

On the 6th of October the Blue Mountains Community Legal Centre celebrated 25 years of service, and launched their new name Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre. The Anniversary was a wonderful celebration of the work of the centre, staff and volunteers, and their role in the Blue Mountains community.

Combined Community Legal Centres Group NSW (CCLCG)AGM:

The CCLCG AGM will be held from 4.30-5pm on Tuesday the 21st of November at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts.  There will be end of year drinks between 5-6pm. The AGM is the final session of the 2 day Quarterly Meetings of the NSW community legal centres. For more information contact Jean Parker: jean_parker@clc.net.au

5. What are the Community Legal Centres and What is CCLCG?


Community Legal Centres (CLCs) are independent community organisations providing equitable and accessible legal services. NSW CLCs work for the public interest, particularly for disadvantaged and marginalised people and communities. CLCs provide a range of legal services including strategic case work, community legal education and law reform campaigns. We promote human rights, social justice and a better environment by advocating for access to justice and equitable laws and legal systems.

The Combined Community Legal Centres Group (NSW) Inc (CCLCG) is the peak body for (CLCs) in NSW. We are resourced by a small State Office which is funded by the NSW Government. CCLCG has 39 member organizations including generalist and specialist community legal centres, and four associate members or non-CLC organisations.

Specialist centres work in particular areas of law, such as disability discrimination, tenancy, domestic violence, environment, social security and consumer credit; or with particular sections of the community, for example, women, indigenous communities, refugees, older people and young people. Specialist centres service all of NSW, usually through the provision of phone advice, but also through rural outreach programs, regular community education programs in regional areas, and the provision of training and back-up advice for CLC workers from generalist centres.

Generalist legal centres, on the other hand, provide legal advice to people living within a particular geographic area. For example Western NSW CLC (Dubbo) provides advice to people in the greater west of NSW, Shoalcoast CLC ( Nowra) provides advice to people living on the south coast of NSW, and Inner City Legal Centre (Darlinghurst) provides advice to people living or working in the Sydney CBD/Darlinghurst/Bondi region.

Community Legal Centres not only provide legal advice and assistance, but also encourage and enable people to develop skills to be their own advocates. Centres work towards achieving systemic change through community legal education, and through law and policy reform.

For more information on the NSW Community Legal Centres or CCLCG go to www.nswclc.org.au

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