On the Record – The e-bulletin
Community Legal Centres: Community, Compassion, Justice
Issue #6 March 2008
This is the sixth 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) firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 9212 7333
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Register now for the NSW Community Legal Centre State Conference 7-9 April 2008: download this registration brochure.
1. NSW Community Legal Sector:
2. Community Law:
Illawarra Legal Centre makes illegal lockout costly for landlord
New Mental Health Legal Services Project at PIAC
Redfern Legal Centre launches 2 new services for students
Justice Action – Supreme Court Case run at Kingsford Legal Centre
PIAC achieves settlement in Railcorp assault, battery and false imprisonment case
Women’s Legal Services NSW prepare for mediation workshops
Kingsford Legal Centre Employment Clinic News
3. Human Rights in Action:
CLCs Bring International Human Rights Day to their communities
Hawkesbury / Nepean Legal Centre Domestic Violence Day concert in a women’s prison
PIAC makes Federal Budget submission
Redfern Legal Centre runs successful disability discrimination case in HREOC
Elizabeth Evatt CLC goes green
Kingsford Legal Centre Director delivers address at Migrant Lawyers Conference in China
Caring for Country – Environmental Defender’s Office
Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre launches a new website
The Children's Court, DoCS, My Child and Me - Shoalcoast Community Legal Centre
Get the Facts on GreenPower - Elizabeth Evatt CLC
Flight Closed – PIAC and NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre report launched
Guide to Unfair Dismissal laws – Inner City Legal Centre and Kingsford Legal Centre
5. Events and Developments:
1. NSW Community Legal Sector:
NSW Community Legal Centre State Conference 7-9 April 2008
justiCe: CLCs Celebrating Change and Connecting Communities. Citigate Sebel Hotel 28 Albion St, Sydney
This conference aims to bring together a wide range of people from around NSW including representatives from community organizations, academia, the private sector, government sector, and community legal centres. Taking a broader social justice and human rights perspective, the conference will explore current issues in the justice system, their impacts on disadvantaged and marginalised communities in NSW, and strategies for ensuring accessibility and equity in the justice system. This includes workshops and presentations on: - Aboriginal Justice - Sexual assault and domestic violence laws - New projects by CLCs - Administrative Law - Youth Justice - Showcasing Law Reform and Policy .... and more!
Registration brochures can be downloaded from our website, and a full program will be available on our website soon.
For more information about the conference, please contact Alison Aggarwal at the State Office on 9212 7333 or Alison_aggarwal@clc.net.au
Community Legal Centre work recognized with accolades
Redfern Legal Centre wins Law category at the HREOC 2007 Human Rights Awards
The 2007 Human Rights Law Award was awarded to the Redfern Legal Centre. The Law Award is sponsored by the Law Council of Australia. The award was presented by Mr Ross Ray, President of the Law Council of Australia.
HREOC explains the value of Redfern’s work:
“Redfern Legal Centre was established in 1977 and has been providing free legal advice, legal services and legal education to disadvantaged people, and the groups who advocate for them, ever since. The centre has also campaigned tirelessly to reduce inequalities and defects in the legal system and the administrative and social practices that impact upon disadvantaged people.
The centre operates on a very limited budget. It relies heavily on volunteer labour and pro-bono assistance from legal professionals to service a heavy caseload and clients that number in the thousands. A very high proportion of the centre’s clients are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities.
One of the centre’s major achievements has been the coordination of the innovative Redfern Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Scheme, which aims to ensure that women seeking a restraining order have access to both legal assistance and to any other support services they may require (such as housing, income support and counselling). The scheme is widely recognised as a successful model for providing women who suffer domestic violence with the support that they need.
Much of the centre’s activities are concerned with domestic violence, disability discrimination, racial discrimination and Indigenous issues”.
Kingsford Legal Centre Director Anna Cody wins Women Lawyers Association of NSW Achievement Award
Anna Cody, Director of the Kingsford Legal Centre was the recipient of the 2007 Achievement Award, in the Government or Community Lawyer category, awarded by the Women Lawyers Association of NSW. The Women Lawyers’ Association of New South Wales is the peak body representing women lawyers in NSW for the advancement of women in the legal profession.
Kingsford Legal Centre Staff win UNSW PATS Award:
Denise Wasley, Anna Hartree, Teena Balgi, Linda Tucker and Shirley Southgate were thrilled to be awarded the 2007 UNSW Professional & Technical Recognition Award for Excellence in Enhancing the Student Experience. The Award was presented to staff by Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Les Field at a ceremony on 12 December. Anna Cody, KLC Director, had nominated the team for their innovative and energetic work with Law Faculty's students who participate in KLC through their clinical legal education courses. The award is well deserved and further recognition of the excellent service provided at Kingsford Legal Centre.
Welfare Rights Centre Director Michael Raper wins a 2007 Justice Medal:
The Law and Justice Foundation of NSW presented its awards at a ceremony on 31 October 2007 at Parliament House. The Justice Medal is the pre-eminent Award for outstanding individual achievement in improving access to justice especially for socially and economically disadvantaged people. Michael Raper from the Welfare Rights Centre of NSW won this award for his passionate yet balanced campaigning and advocacy for reductions in levels of poverty, inequality and hardship. Director since 1990 of the NSW Welfare Rights Centre, he leads a community legal centre specialising in Social Security and Family Tax Benefit law, helping the most disadvantaged people access their entitlements.
The CCLCG Training Program was introduced in 2007. After conducting a training needs analysis of CLC staff, the Program has already delivered training courses CLC staff and other members of the legal sector.
Some of the training topics delivered so far include:
- Aboriginal Cultural Awareness
- Time Management and Self Leadership
- Mentoring as a Learning Strategy - an introduction
- Community Legal Education (in conjunction with the Tenant's Union)
- Advanced Media Skills training (with PIAC)
In the courses listed above, there have been almost 60 participants. The feedback from these courses has been great and the Aboriginal Cultural Awareness and Time Management Workshops will be repeated in May due to popular demand.
Illawarra Legal Centre makes illegal lockout costly for landlord:
The Illawarra Legal Centre Tenants Service recently represented a tenant at the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal in an illegal lockout case. The landlord entered the premises before the tenancy had ended, changed the locks and put some of the tenant’s goods out into the front yard. The landlord refused to let the tenant recover the goods and they were destroyed by rain.
The tenancy was in a small town and the landlord made representations around town that the tenant had been a bad tenant, which was not the case.The tenant was awarded a total of $10,000 in compensation for economic and non-economic loss. This is the maximum the Tribunal can award. For more information contact Illawarra at www.illawrralegalcentre.org.au
The Mental Health Legal Services (MHLS) Project started in January 2008 will run for 2 years. This program will explore the unmet legal needs of people who are mentally unwell, enable those needs to be better met through piloting innovative strategies.
The target group for the MHLS Project will be those individuals who are mentally unwell
and who because of that have access to justice issues in areas such as...
• Crimes of violence
• Crimes of deception
• Family law matters
• Care and protection of children matters
• Discrimination, harassment and vilification
• Health care and service delivery
• Housing and social welfare
• Credit and debt
PIAC will research and pilot both capacity building/training and new mental health legal service delivery models.
PIAC wants to talk with consumers, carers, workers, academics and others with an interest in this important subject. If you have any questions, comments or ideas regarding the MHLS Project, please contact the Project Coordinator, Stephen Kilkeary email@example.com or call 8898 6513 www.piac.asn.au
For many years Redfern Legal Centre have run a legal service from the Sydney University Students’ Representative Council (SRC) which represents undergraduates. Now the centre has launched a new service from the Sydney University Postgraduate students’ representative body, SUPRA (Sydney Uni postgraduate and research students).
Redfern Legal Centre has also started running a service at Sydney Institute of TAFE, Ultimo.
This existing service was previously auspiced by the UTS Community Legal Centre.
Kingsford Legal Centre recently assisted a member of the criminal justice activist group, Justice Action, in an expedited Supreme Court hearing against the NSW Commissioner for Corrective Services, Ron Woodham. Kingsford’s client challenged the Commissioner’s refusal to allow copies of the Justice Action newsletter, ‘Just Us’, to be distributed to inmates in prisons across the State. Kingsford Legal Centre and barrister Ben Zipser represented the client against the Commissioner. The matter was heard over almost 2 days before Justice Fullerton, who will hand down her decision early next year. For more information contact Kingsford Legal Centre on 9385 9566.
In early 2007, PIAC brought a claim on behalf a client in the District Court against RailCorp NSW and five transit officers for false imprisonment, assault and battery. PIAC alleged that the transit officers had overstepped their powers and detained the client against her will as well as assaulted her. The matter settled in December 2007. The terms of the settlement are confidential.
The client’s claim was taken on by PIAC as part of the CIDnAP (Children in Detention Advocacy) Project. Many of the project's cases involve young people who have been picked up for breaching out-of-date bail conditions. PIAC is currently holding discussions with the NSW Government about ensuring that information such as bail conditions held by the Police is accurate and up-to-date, so as to avoid young people being wrongfully arrested and detained. Please contact Jessica Cruise at PIAC's for more information, on 02 8898 6516, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff from Women’s Legal Services recently observed Penrith Family Relationship Centre group sessions, as preparation for a series of 6 workshops to prepare women for mediation. The workshops will be held between March and July 2008 in conjunction with Hawkesbury-Nepean Community Legal Centre. Contact Women’s Legal Services on 02 9749 7700.
In a recent unfair dismissal application, Kingsford Legal Centre’s client had been in the same workplace for 17 years but new owners had taken over five months prior to her dismissal. Despite evidence that the new employer had assured employees that there would be no change to their status, the client was still excluded from the unfair dismissal remedy because of the 6 month qualification period required by the Workplace Relations Act. This exclusion, which was introduced by the WorkChoices amendments, is particularly detrimental for long term employees when there has been a change of ownership as the qualifying period applies unless there is written agreement between the employer and employee to set it aside. This qualifying period applies, this case has highlighted the vulnerability of employees continuing in a business with new owners. See Lisa Patricia Stanfield v Childcare Services
Pty Ltd,  AIRC 127. For information contact Kingsford Legal Centre on 9385 9566.
CLCs Bring International Human Rights Day to their communities!
December 10th is International Human Rights Day, and last December CLCs from across the State took the opportunity to raise Human Rights issues in the context of their local areas:
Redfern Legal Centre celebrated Human Rights Day by holding a ‘welcome’ morning tea for members of African communities in their area.
The Illawarra Legal Centre along with local community workers marked International Human Rights Day by holding a human rights stall at the steps of the Wesley Church. Visitors to the human rights stall had the opportunity to send a post card to Australian and other leaders to express the idea that human rights must be at the forefront of all political decision-making. The cards reinforced the idea of our collective responsibility to protect freedoms and work for justice.
The Northern Rivers CLC - had a "village barrow" stall in the centre of Lismore on December 10th, where 130 members of the community wrote and signed their own letters on a range of human rights issues which were then sent to relevant federal ministers. These letters addressed issues such as the rights of Indigenous peoples (including reconciliation, reparations for the stolen generation, stolen wages), same sex entitlements and right to adequate housing among others.
In the Community Legal Service Albury/Wodonga, a human rights poster and balloons were on display at the front door of the centre, as well as information about the NSW Human Rights Charter along with Individual Supporter Registration forms for people to sign to show their support. Resources and posters were organised for display at the Albury City Library and Upper Murray Family Care's main reception area.
The Hawkesbury / Nepean Legal Centre domestic violence court assistance scheme marked Stop domestic violence Day (which falls on November 7th) with a very successful concert at Dillwynia Women's Prison. Mia Dyson and some local young women artists performed for the event and the audience loved it! The event was recorded by a radio station that broadcasts through prisons. For more information call 02 4588 5618
PIAC was pleased to see the call for input from the community to the Federal Budget process for 2008. In its submission PIAC highlighted specific areas of Federal Government responsibility where moderate and targeted expenditure would improve social justice outcomes for individuals and communities in Australia.
PIAC's priority recommendations are:
Housing and Homelessness - Funding the development and implementation of a National Homelessness Strategy and also funding State and Territory Governments to expand the Supported Accommodation and Assistance Program (SAAP).
Human Rights - Funding a national public consultation and community education program as part of the inquiry into the adoption of a national Charter of Rights. Funding alternatives to mandatory detention of asylum seekers and ensuring that any detention regime is limited to the absolute minimum necessary to undertake initial health and security checks.
Indigenous Justice - Funding the implementation of a comprehensive response to the recommendations of the Bringing Them Home Report and the establishment of a reparations process.
Building Energy Capacity - Allocate funding to ensure that consumers are protected in the new national energy environment, and ensure access by consumers to competitively priced and affordable energy services, regulation of the national energy market and viable dispute-resolution mechanisms.
Consumer Policy Framework - Provide enhanced support for individual consumer advocacy through increased resourcing of legal aid, the Community Legal Services Program and the financial counselling services, especially for vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers.
The full text of PIAC's Federal Budget submission is available at http://www.piac.asn.au/publications/pubs/sub2008011_20080118.html
The Redfern Legal Centre recently represented a client at the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) for conciliation. The case involved a disability discrimination complaint against a private tertiary education provider.
The client was relieved to be able to raise her grievances directly with the head of the College (although not personally involved in the acts of discrimination and other unprofessionalism), after being denied for so long. The hearing also threw light onto the lack of courtesy and professionalism shown by the College when attempting to deal with the client. The tactic of the college had been to simply not respond to complaints made.
The conciliation outcome was hugely successful. The client was awarded everything she sought, with the exception that only half of her tuition fees were refunded. The process also allowed the legal staff the opportunity to air criticism of the lack of courtesy and professionalism shown by the College when attempting to represent the client.
Redfern Legal Centre lawyers are really pleased with both the HREOC process and the outcome of the conciliation, as is the client.
For more information contact Nicki Petrou at Redfern Legal Centre on 9698 7277.
Climate change is fast becoming one of the most pressing social justice issues of our time. While the impact of increasing droughts, floods and storms will be felt across entire populations, communities living on low lying islands and atolls in the Torres Strait and the Pacific will be the most seriously affected by rising sea levels and inundation events. It is absolutely crucial that we act now, individually and collectively, to tackle this global climate emergency.
Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre, located in the beautiful Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, is expanding its environmental work in 2008 following a staff members’s participation in the Al Gore Climate Project. The first priority is to get our own house in order. An energy audit of the Centre has shown that Elizabeth Evatt CLC can achieve around 49% energy savings by implementing low cost measures such as:
• replacing incandescent globes with compact fluorescents
• using the kettle for boiling water rather than running the instant zipboil system
• ensuring that the automated sleep timers are activated on all computers
• turning off computers, fax, printer, shredder and photocopier at the wall as part of office closure procedures.
There are many ways that CLCs can reduce their carbon footprint and show leadership around climate justice. The ideas above are just a start and we plan to do much more in the coming year. For more information contact Meredith Osborne, Education and Promotion Co-ordinator (02) 4782 6906 or email@example.com
Anna Cody attended the Capacity Building Workshop for Full -Time Migrant Workers in January on behalf of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). Anna delivered an address on community legal centres in Australia and Kingsford Legal Centre’s services and teaching program. Anna spoke on the structure of Legal Aid in Australia and the development of community legal centres and their role in not only providing direct services for the more disadvantaged members of our community but also in community legal education and law reform and policy work.
The conference was attended by over 70 delegates who work with Chinese migrant workers. This is a huge issue within China with over 200 million migrant workers facing issues of injuries at work, unpaid entitlements and unfair dismissals. The Chinese network of legal aid stations is growing to try and meet some of those legal needs and uses some innovative strategies to meet some of the demand including community legal education programs on radio, newspapers and television. For more information call Kingsford Legal Centre on 9385 9566.
Caring for Country – Environmental Defender’s Office:
The Environmental Defender's Office has recently released a publication entitled Caring for Country: A guide to environmental law for Aboriginal Communities in NSW. Caring for Country is a plain-English guide to assist Aboriginal people to understand their legal rights and obligation under environmental and natural resource management law.
The guide explains the law as it relates to and impacts on Aboriginal people whilst recognising that environmental issues do not affect everyone in the same way. It deals with issues such as access to country, cultural heritage, development and managing country. The guide was produced with funding from the Law and Justice Foundation which allowed the EDO to establish the Caring for Country project and hire a dedicated Aboriginal Liaison Officer. The project is now supported by the Combined Community Legal Centres Group via a grant from the Aboriginal Legal Access Program.
The guide is free and available by contacting the EDO on 02 9262 6989. It can also be downloaded from the EDO website www.nsw.edo.org.au
Check it out at www.nrclc.org.au
Shoalcoast Community Legal Centre has updated and reprinted its highly popular layperson's guide to NSW care and protection law: The Children's Court, DoCS, My Child and Me. Please contact Shoalcoast on 4422 9529 to request free copies.
The Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre is working in partnership with Blue Mountains City Council and our local climate action group on GreenPower issues. Following a spate of enquiries about aggressive “green” marketing campaigns by various electricity retailers in our area, the Centre produced a resource called Get the Facts on GreenPower. It explains what GreenPower is and how consumers can choose green energy products wisely. It also includes simple tips for householders on how to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and save money on power bills at the same time. For more information contact Meredith Osborne on 4782 6906 or email Meredith@eeclc.org.au
This report on the problems facing people with disabilities in airline travel was launched at Sydney Airport on 13 December 2007. At the Launch HREOC representative Mr Innes said HREOC would use the report's findings in its discussions with the airline industry, government and CASA to ensure reasonable accessibility standards are introduced and enforced for airline travel for people with disabilities.
The launch also attracted very good media coverage with articles in The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers plus widespread national and local radio interest. Copies of the report are being sent to government to encourage action to improve access for people with disabilities.
Flight Closed can be viewed at: http://www.piac.asn.au/publications/pubs/rep2007123_20071201.html
Media Release for Flight Closed can be viewed at: http://www.piac.asn.au/news/media/20071213_fltclsdrp.html
Please contact Brenda Bailey by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to 02 8898 6522 to obtain a bound copy of the report.
After many years hard work by Kingsford Legal Centre and Inner City Legal Centre, the guide was launched as a web resource in October 07. Although the federal election results will mean this will need to be updated, the everchanging industrial relations environment makes it very difficult to provide easy to read up to date information. The constantly changing law also makes the need for clear guides to the law very pressing. The guide was launched by the State Minister for Industrial Relations and will assist unrepresented litigants and employment lawyers advise and represent clients in this area of law. To read or download the guide go to www.iclc.org.au/udg/
Short films for Law Week at the Illawarra Legal Centre:
The Illawarra Legal Centre in conjunction with Illawarra Multicultural Services is marking Law Week by presenting a series of short films that explore workplace discrimination, racism and violence in the home. The presentation is for community workers seeking greater awareness of issues that may face recent arrivals to Australia, most particularly from African countries. The session will provide workers with an opportunity to exchange ideas on work in the areas of discrimination and domestic violence.
The workshop will be held on Thursday 3rd April at Illawarra Multicultural Services, 27 Atchison Street, Wollongong. The workshop will commence at 9.30am and run to 12 noon. The writers and directors of the films will participate in the workshop.
The shorts emerged from a directing and drama workshop series, where 20 participants from the Sudanese Filmmaking Group.
Please RSVP by calling Sharon Callaghan on 42754702 and visit www.illawarralegalcentre.org.au
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is presenting workshops based on its new publication - Caring for Country: A guide to environmental law for Aboriginal Communities in NSW. Caring for Country is a plain-English guide to assist Aboriginal people to understand their legal rights and obligation under environmental and natural resource management law. Future Caring for Country workshops will be held in Deniliquin on March 8 and Wagga Wagga on March 9. Contact the EDO for more information on 02 9262 6989 or go to the EDO website www.nsw.edo.org.au
The Arts Law Centre of Australia (Arts Law), with the support of the City of Sydney is presenting a series of free seminars and workshops for Sydney based artists, arts organisations and other creative people.
Presented by Arts Law legal staff, Sydney entertainment lawyers and industry professionals, there will be sessions for creative people from all art forms …..musicians, filmmakers, writers, new media, visual, community and Indigenous artists.
To download the program for Arts Law Week visit www.artslaw.com.au or call 9356 2566
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.