On the Record – The e-bulletin
Community Legal Centres: Community, Compassion, Justice
Issue #4 JUNE 2007
Welcome to the fourth edition of On the Record, the quarterly e-bulletin of the NSW Community Legal Centres. Community Legal Centres (CLCs) are independent community organisations providing equitable and accessible legal services. To find out more about CLCs in NSW visit www.nswclc.org.au
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) email@example.com or phone 9212 7333.
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2. Community Law:
National Insurance Hotline: New Service at Consumer Credit legal Centre
Welfare Rights wins payment from Centrelink after client left for 11 weeks without support
PILCH opens a new Homeless Persons Legal Service Clinic in Bondi
Kingsford Legal Centre reaches out to La Perouse
Practicing in the Public Interest Course at PILCH
Tenancy Rights theatre in Illawarra
Law Week Community Service Award goes to Community Legal Service Albury Wodonga
3. Human Rights in Action:
From Bourke to Hainan Province - Women’s Legal Services speaks to international conference
Women’s Employment Rights Project
Illawarra Community Legal Education on voting rights
Review of Care and Protection Act
Stolen Wages Referral Scheme at PILCH
CLCs warn of excessive powers for APEC policing
5. CLC Events:
Partnerships, Prevention and Rural Action III: A conference on Child Sexual Assault in Aboriginal Communities
PILCH 15th Birthday Trivia Night
Book Launch: 'Mapping Pro Bono in Australiia'
EDO Environmental Law Workshop Newcastle
Public Interest Advocacy Conference
Fraud Prevention and Detection Control Seminar
Law for Non-Lawyers – PIAC Training
EDO Seminar – Campaigning for Environmental Rights in Mongolia – A Case Study
The State Office welcomes two new staff and two new programs in the NSW Community Legal Centres. Renee Williamson has started as the new Aboriginal Legal Access Program Coordinator, and Joanna Mantziaris has come on board as the Training Program Coordinator for the new State Office Training Program. These programs are being supported by a grant from the Public Purposes Fund.
The Aboriginal Legal Access Program involves a grants scheme to fund programs and projects being run by NSW Community Legal Centres (CLCs). The Training Program is designed to assess and improve the levels of skills and expertise for Community Legal Centre staff.
CCLCG is now in Ultimo:
The State Office has moved office to cater for the expanded number of staff. The office is now located at:
C17, 99 Jones Street Ultimo, NSW 2007
Phone: 02 9212 7333
Fax: 02 9212 7332
National Insurance Hotline: New Insurance Service at CCLC:
From 1 July 2007, A new pilot service, the National Insurance Hotline will be operating 3 days a week from Consumer Credit Legal Centre (CCLC). The solicitor employed to operate the service will also be taking on a limited amount of casework and offering training for community lawyers, financial counselors and other interested community workers in insurance complaints and disputes such as:
· rejected claims;
· refusal of insurance cover;
· harsh and unfair terms or special conditions;
· inability to claim due to an inability to pay the excess on an insurance policy; and
· claims by insurance companies against uninsured third parties (such as uninsured drivers and tenants who are sued by the landlord's insurer).
National Insurance Hotline: 1300 663 464 - Mon-Wed 9.30-4.30 from 1 July 2007.
Funding for this project has been generously provided by the Legal Aid Commission of NSW, the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW and the Victoria Law Foundation. The training component of the project is also possible as a result of the financial support of Victoria Legal Aid and the Insurance Ombudsman Service. For more information about the pilot program, contact Karen Cox, Co-ordinator, Consumer Credit Legal Centre (NSW) Inc. on (02) 9212 4216.
The Welfare Rights Centre recently advocated on behalf of a client who had applied for Newstart Allowance 11 weeks before, but had not received any payment. Centrelink had told him that it was looking into whether he should face an immediate eight-week non payment period due to an allegation that he voluntarily left his job. As a result of the Welfare Rights Centre’s involvement, Centrelink made a positive decision within one hour of being contacted. Welfare Rights then had to contact the client’s local Centrelink office to obtain an emergency payment for the client.
Recently a spokesman for the Human Services Minister Senator Chris Ellison confirmed that there have been a number of cases of people losing their benefits for more than eight weeks because Centrelink was slow to make a decision. The Welfare Rights Centre is pleased that the Minister has ordered Centrelink to review its processes. There are potentially thousands of people affected by Centrelink’s poor processing of payment applications. Since 1 July 2006 Centrelink has imposed 9,000 eight-week non payment periods, resulting in savings to the Government of approximately $16 million. For more information about welfare rights call 9211 5300.
Lawyers from Corrs Chambers Westgarth will begin providing legal services to clients at Norman Andrews House in Bondi. Norman Andrews House is the only drop-in centre for homeless people in the Bondi area. The centre is the key point of contact for Waverley City Council in its Homeless Person’s Protocol.
Across the seven HPLS clinics, there have been over 250 client contacts in the past three months. This is a significant workload across the PILCH HPLS firms and their enormous contribution is acknowledged. Thanks also to other PILCH member lawyers and barristers who accept referrals from HPLS, often on an urgent basis. For more good news stories go to the HPLS webpage: http://www.piac.asn.au//legal/cases.html.
Kingsford Legal Centre (KLC) has started an outreach service that will operate out of the demountables in Yarra Bay House at La Perouse. This outreach is one of the strategies implemented to increase and improve access to KLC by the local Indigenous community. For more information contact Kingsford Legal Centre on 9385 9566 or visit www.kingsfordlegalcentre.org
PILCH (Public Interest Law Clearing House) and its members have been participating in the PIPI program since it began in 2000. The aim of the program is to introduce senior law students to systems advocacy and public interest legal practice and strategies and to expose them to organisations that are directly involved in public interest and pro bono litigation and activities. The PIPI program challenges students to think creatively about ways in which the law and related skills can be used strategically to achieve the changes that promote a just society.
The 2007 PIPI Winter School will be held in the week commencing 16 July 2007 with students from Macquarie and Wollongong Universities. Baker & McKenzie will be hosting the three-day training program. For more information contact Sandra Stevenson: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 8898 6550.
Illawarra Legal Centre has developed a community legal education program involving forum theatre. The play helps recently arrived African migrants understand their rights as tenants in NSW. The audience comprised immigrants from various African nations where the languages include Kirundi (Burundi language), Liberian Pidgin English, Dinka, French, Arabic, Swahili, Krio, and Mandingo.
Forum theatre allows the participants to interact with the play, and reinforce their confidence to deal with different tenancy problems. The actors show how a visit to the Tenants Service is able to give the tenants a place to go to get advice and information when they need it.
Part of the performance involves the audience coming up with questions about renting: “What do you do if your landlord won’t come and fix the things that need repairing”? “What do you do if children accidentally damage the house or what can you do if your landlord wants to evict you because you ask for necessary repairs?” For more information about the tenancy theatre contact Illawarra Legal Centre Inc. Tenants Service on 42743475 or Sharon Callaghan the Illawarrra Legal Centre Community Legal Education worker on 42 754702.
The Community Legal Service (Albury Wodonga)was awarded a Law Week Community Service Award by the NSW Law Society for outstanding contribution to the Law Week Program in NSW.
The week of events included two Wills and Powers of Attorney Seminars, a Free Legal Advice Clinic, a 2 day training course supporting the Disabled in the Criminal Justice System, a Family Mediation Information Session, a Seminar on Neighbours, Householders and the Law, a Welfare Rights Seminar, along with a week long shopping centre display. Lawyers in the Park BBQ was held at the end of Law Week in QE2 Square in the heart of Albury at lunchtime. The BBQ provided an opportunity for many people, who might not normally have access to the law, to come along to speak to one of the volunteer solicitors available while having some lunch. The informal and social approach helped members of the community feel comfortable seeking information from the legal profession as well as providing an opportunity to get to know the resources, programs and systems available to them in the Albury Wodonga community.
From Bourke to Hainan Province - Women’s Legal Services speaks to international conference:
In March, Principal Solicitor Janet Loughman attended a training workshop in Hainan Province, China. The workshop was a joint HREOC and All-China Women’s Federation project. Janet presented a paper on WLS NSW services and its work in promoting women’s rights. For more information contact Janet Loughman: email@example.com
The Womens Employment Rights Project (or WERP) is currently winding up. WERP was funded by the Office for Women for one year and run by the Inner City Legal Centre. During the last year ICLC provided legal employment advice, and training on the various aspects of WorkChoices that impact on women. WERP staff collected case studies of 300 women which ICLC are currently analysing. The project also involves the creation of a webpage hosted on the Inner City Legal Centre website. The webpage contains many fact sheets about women’s employment issues and Workchoices. For more information go to www.iclc.org.au or call Pat McDonough on 9332 1966.
Illawarra Legal Centre has raised community awareness about the Federal Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Act 2006. Under this Act the Federal Government will close the electoral roll at 8pm on the night of the ‘issuing of the writ’, which is generally the day after the election is called. It could mean that over 18% of 18 to 25 year olds lose their democratic right to vote in this years’ Federal Election. In the 2004 Federal Election around 424,000 people enrolled to vote in the week before the cut off date showing how important it is to give people time to register on the electoral roll. The Illawarra Legal Centre is concerned that potential voters will lose their opportunity to vote in the upcoming election.
Janet Loughman and Sara Peel attended a forum on the review of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act, hosted by NCOSS and ACWA. Sara Peel prepared a submission to the review on behalf of Women’s Legal Services NSW. To receive a copy of the submission please email Sara Peel: firstname.lastname@example.org
PILCH and PIAC have a joint project to assist Aboriginal clients in NSW on a pro bono basis with their applications to the Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme (ATFRS). A number of PILCH member firms are currently assisting claimants with their applications. Before accepting referrals, participating firms agree to undertake training relating to the operation of the AFTRS and the claims process, delivered by PIAC and undertake external cultural awareness training. For more information contact Sandra Stevenson: email@example.com or call 8898 6550.
The APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Bill 2007 was released in June 2007. CLCs are concerned that it gives police extraordinary powers to restrict access to certain areas. The Police Minister or Commissioner can declare any area within metro Sydney a declared area if it will promote the safety of an APEC meeting. They don't have to tell the public if it would "compromise security". They can also designate an area as a “declared area” if it would prevent or control a public disorder. To get into a declared area a person needs to show ID and submit to a search.
Under the proposed Bill Police will have the power to:
- Prevent a person entering an APEC security area
- Remove a person from an APEC security area or a closed road
- Request a person disclose their ID when removing a person from an APEC security area
The Police Commissioner can also make a list of "persons who would pose serious threats to the safety of persons or property in an APEC security area”. This list may (but need not be published). "The list" is still valid if it isn't published. The Bill doesn't envisage that people on the list will be notified.
CLCs are committed to ensuring the right to protest is maintained and that protesters and other Sydney residents know their rights in relation to these extended police powers. CLCs will be working to ensure that the right to peaceful assembly is protected, and that vulnerable groups such as homeless people and the mentally ill are not adversely affected by the APEC conference. For more information call Kirrillie Moore at Redfern Legal Centre on 9698 7277.
“Our Dream – stopping the violence” Women’s Legal Services:
The second edition of the publication “Our Dream – stopping the violence” is now available for purchase. This is an information booklet for Aboriginal women on domestic violence and the law in NSW. The booklet has been updated to include legal information about the changes to NSW Domestic Violence Law that occurred in March 2007. This publication will shortly be available for download from: www.womenslegalnsw.asn.au.
"Youth Justice" (2004) has been updated! These free updates are available on the Federation Press’ website to anyone whether they own the book or not. Here you will find amendments to the book as well as some new sections and chapters. To order the book or download the update go to: www.federationpress.com.au/bookstore/book.asp?isbn=1862874794
KLC has produced the 7th bi-annual clinical legal education guide for 2007-2008. This continues to be a valuable resource for students and clinicians on the current state of clinical legal education. If you would like a copy email your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Partnerships, Prevention and Rural Action III: A conference on Child Sexual Assault in Aboriginal Communities:
On 15-19 October 2007, the Indigenous Women's Program of Women's Legal Services NSW is holding a conference on sexual assault issues in Aboriginal communities. This is the third conference for Aboriginal women in NSW on this issue, and it will be held at Lake Burrendong Sport and Recreation Centre, via Wellington NSW. The Conference is for Aboriginal women of all ages throughout NSW, and childcare will be provided. Places are available for 200 participants, and there are limited places available for service providers or government departments who can contribute to the conference.
Any organisations interested in presenting at the conference or who have enquiries can contact Rene Adams (Conference Coordinator) on 02 9749 7700. Written expressions of interest should be received by 31 July 2007, and emailed to Rene_Adams@clc.net.au or posted to Women's Legal Services NSW, PO Box 206 Lidcombe NSW 1825
PILCH is holding a major fundraising event on Friday 13 July 2007 to celebrate its 15th birthday. The PILCH trivia night, celebrating 15 years of collaboration and work in the public interest pro bono sector, will be hosted by PILCH member firm, Freehills. Previous PILCH secondee, and now celebrity television games host, Andrew O’Keefe, will be our MC for the night. Book early to secure a table and be part of an evening of great prizes, fabulous food and drinks – and questions that will challenge. Cost for a table of 10: $1,650 (inc GST). Community rate for a table of 10: $660 (inc GST). All food and drinks provided. Contact Sandra Stevenson on 8898 6504 or by e-mail (email@example.com) to book a table or ask for a table booking form to be sent to you.
On the 28th June at 5.30pm,the National Pro Bono Resource Centre is launching a new book 'Mapping Pro Bono in Australia'. The book will be launched by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Hon. Murray Gleeson AC. For details about the book see www.bookshop.unsw.edu.au/probono RSVP for the launch by Monday 25th June to Samantha Mallon on 9286 8052 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
On the 23 June 2007 the Environmental Defender’s Office is running a workshop on environmental law tailored to the local issues in Newcastle. Topics for discussion include: Mining law and climate change, access to information and freedom of information legislation. how the planning and development system works and an overview of the legal system and key environmental laws. The Workshop will run from 1pm to 5pm at the Newcastle Panthers “Conference Room” 309 King Street, Newcastle West. Cost: $15. This includes a copy of the NSW Environmental Law Toolkit, a comprehensive guide to environmental law that normally retails for $50. Payment can be made at the door. For bookings or more information, please contact Tisha Dejmanee on (02) 9262 6989 or email@example.com
Time: 18 & 19 October 2007, Location: Wesley Centre, Sydney. Cost: Details to come
To celebrate its 25th Anniversary PIAC is holding a conference focussing on the development of public interest advocacy in Australia and its future direction and challenges. For more information or to ensure you receive program and registration details as they become available, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PILCH is holding a seminar on 13 July which will be hosted and presented by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the PricewaterhouseCoopers Foundation. Please contact Sandra Stevenson on 8898 6504 or by e-mail (email@example.com) for more information.
This course is a practical two-day introduction to the law and the legal system. Participants will learn to identify when there is a legal aspect to a problem, and locate a range of legal services and resources. The course will be run over 31 October & 1 November in the Parramatta CBD. For information and registration contact Carolyn Grenville – firstname.lastname@example.org, 8898 6500, www.piac.asn.au
In 2006/2007 Cerin McMillan spent 10 months working in Mongolia as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development. She worked with a local NGO – the Centre for Human Rights and Development as an environmental rights awareness raising campaigner. Cerin will share her experiences at this FREE seminar, hosted by the EDO. She will discuss her work in Mongolia, including working on reforms to the Mineral Law of Mongolia, campaigning for public participation in environmental decision making, promoting public interest law and educating rural communities on environmental issues. Cerin's placement was supported by the Environmental Defender's Office, an Australian partner organisation of the AYAD program. Thursday 28 June 5pm to 6pm, EDO Office, Level 1, 89 York Street Sydney. RSVP Tisha Dejmanee at email@example.com or 9262 6989. Light refreshments will be provided
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. Community Legal Centres not only provide legal advice and assistance, but also encourage and enable people to develop skills to be their own advocates. We promote human rights, social justice and a better environment by advocating for access to justice and equitable laws and legal systems. Centres work towards achieving systemic change through community legal education, and through law and policy reform.
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. For more information on the NSW Community Legal Centres or CCLCG go to www.nswclc.org.au or call 9212 7333.