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On the Record The e-bulletin Issue #9 May 2009


Community Legal Centres: Community, Compassion, Justice
Issue #9 May 2009


This is the ninth 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) jean_parker@clc.net.au or phone 9212 7333

If you do not wish to receive future issues of On the Record, please follow the instructions for unsubscribing below. If you know others who may wish to receive the e-bulletin, feel free to forward this email, and they will be able to subscribe themselves to our list with the link below. Or you can subscribe by filling out the form on our website. You can also change which email address the e-bulletin goes to, and update other details by following the links at the bottom of the email. 

Contents:


1.NSW Community Legal Sector News:

$4 million for Community Legal Centres as early intervention services
Changes for Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Schemes
RACS collaboration with the University of Sydney Law School leads to re-location
New Community Legal Centre for Tweed Shire

2. CLCs Lead on Human Rights Consultation:

A). CLCs take Human Rights Consultations into their communities
Baby Harper 'speaks' out for human rights protection
North and North West Community Legal Service
Illawarra Legal Centre runs info stalls and workshops
Kingsford Legal Centre Consultation on the Protection of Human Rights in Australia
"Rights Here, Right Now" – Marrickville CLC runs youth forum
B). Human Rights Consultation Events
UNSW Forum: Does Australia need a Human Rights Act?
People with intellectual disabilities have their say (IDRS)
C). Human Rights Consultation Resources
D). Campaign websites
E). Human Rights Toolkits
F). Other books on human rights

3. Community Law:

Building the profile of the Western Sydney Tenants Service Parramatta
Same Sex Couples Community Legal Education in the Illawarra
‘Law Matters’ on air! North and North West CLC radio program
Kingsford Legal Centre Aboriginal Legal Access Project progresses
Elizabeth Evatt CLC responds to unmet legal needs in care and protection

4. Human Rights in Action:

A win for Homeless Persons Legal Service client in Supreme Court of NSW bail hearing
Welfare Rights Centre says "Youth compact could save a generation, but handle with care"
Recent Environmental Defenders Office NSW submissions
Changes to Stolen Wages Scheme - Deadline 31 May 2009 - PIAC

5. Publications:

Arts Law - Sample Indigenous Artist and Art Centre Agreement
Tenants Union embraces blog technology
Environmental Defenders Office NSW – Capacity building for environmental law in the South Pacific
Arts Law: CHILDREN IN THE CREATIVE PROCESS: INFORMATION FOR ARTISTS AND ARTS ORGANISATIONS – Australia

6. Events and Developments:

Illawarra Legal Centre screens “Burn”
Pacific Calling and EDO Seminar: Explaining the CPRS
Macquarie Legal Centre Workshop for people working with the young
Womens Legal Centre: WRITE FOR RIGHTS!
Arts Law Centre  and Penrith City Council proudly presents the Artist + Community Toolkit Workshop Series 2009

7. What Are CLCs and What is CCLCG?

 

 

1. NSW Community Legal Sector News:


$4 million for Community Legal Centres as early intervention services:

On 11th May Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Minister for Home Affairs Bob Debus announced a one-off payment of $4 million for Community Legal Centres nationally.

“Legal assistance services are critical to effective early intervention by helping people resolve problems before they escalate and lead to entrenched disadvantage,” Mr McClelland said. “Community Legal Centre funding will help disadvantaged Australians who require legal assistance in areas such as consumer protection, mortgage and tenancy issues, welfare rights, family and homelessness issues”

Whilst CCLCG applauds the Attorney-General for recognising community legal centres by providing additional funding, we note with much concern the minimal short-term effects of the one-off funding.Helen Campbell, Chairperson of the Combined Community Legal Centres' Group (NSW) stated: "CCLCG was pleased to see some funding provided to a number of centres around NSW, particularly to those who need urgent funding simply to remain open to deliver core services.  However, we are concerned about the negligible effects this one-off funding will have.  The allocations are for 12 months only, with no known prospects as to long-term funding.  For CLCs to be truly effective in service delivery there needs to be a more structured approach to allocation of funding, whether short-term or long-term.  Recurrent and long-term funding enable CLCs to establish effective services, particularly by building long-term positive relationships with the communities they serve.

"CCLCG has, over many years, provided the Commonwealth with a vast amount of evidence of areas of greatest legal need.  This evidence-based information appears to have been ignored with the one-off funding allocation.  We call upon the Attorney-General to consider a more strategic approach to funding allocation and to provide CLCs with long-term funding that addresses the areas of greatest need".

For further information, contact the State Office on 9212 7333.

Changes for Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Schemes:

Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Schemes (WDVCAS) are funded by the NSW Government and administered by Legal aid NSW. Having been initiated by CLCs, they are now hosted by various community-based organisations, as well as community legal centres.

Before the last State election the then-Premier Morris Iemma announced a commitment to provide additional funding to expand the program. This lead to a long process of review and reform of the existing services, as well as an expansion to cover courts which had not previously had any services at all.

The existing WDVCAS will cease operation on 30 June. From 1 July there will be some services remaining substantially unchanged, some which have been amalgamated and extended to cover additional courts, and some new ones will be established.

Of the WDVCASs auspiced by community legal centres, we understand that all those who submitted an expression of interest were successful. Some of these will be taking on new areas of work and developing larger services covering more courts than previously. The CLCs who will be continuing to auspice WDVCASs are:

Northern Rivers
Macarthur
South-West Sydney
Macquarie
Redfern
Hawkesbury Nepean
Elizabeth Evatt
Far West

We welcome the expansion of the program throughout NSW and the support provided to CLCs and others to assist women dealing with domestic violence in the legal system.

RACS collaboration with the University of Sydney Law School leads to re-location:

On 28 May 2009,the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) officially opened its new premises in Phillip St, Sydney.  RACS’ relocation to the former office of the Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, is due to its involvement with the Law School’s new “Social Justice Program”. 

From July 2009, RACS will host the first group of students in the Faculty’s clinical legal education subject.  Students will gain a unique and invaluable insight into the practice of law in a social justice setting, through observing and assisting RACS lawyers in the delivery of legal services to asylum seekers. 

The venture represents an exciting development for RACS, which over the period of its 22-year history has struggled with financial survival.  Despite being a Community Legal Centre in every sense, RACS was not historically given official CLC status.  In 2008, RACS’ position was strengthened when it received welcome support from the Public Purpose Fund, which has enabled it to continue its core work of advising and representing a vulnerable and indigent client base. 

Through the new venture with the Law School, RACS will receive generous in-kind support for its role in the clinical legal education program.  With a full-time staff of three lawyers plus administrative support, during the past 5 years RACS has represented over 800 asylum seekers from more than 50 countries, over 80% of whom were accepted as refugees.  The new venture will hopefully enable RACS to meet the increasing demand for legal representation in this under-funded area. 

The opening on 28 May was attended by friends and supporters of RACS from the legal and medical professions, academia, the welfare sector as well as the general community, who joined the Dean of the Faculty, Professor Gillian Triggs, in launching what all hope will be a successful partnership between Australia’s oldest law school and the only specialised refugee legal centre in the country.

New Community Legal Centre for Tweed Shire:

Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre (NRCLC) based in Lismore has been assisting people in the Tweed Shire for the last 10 years.  NRCLC had observed an increasing need for legal assistance in the Tweed Shire (with high population growth) and was delighted to secure a small pool of funding in 2008 to open an office in the area.

NRCLC has also received numerous requests for CLE programmes.  The CD/CLE worker has contacted all the relevant services in the Tweed Shire to ascertain their specific needs for community legal education (CLE) programmes.  She recently attended a Youth Expo, following which she will be delivering education sessions to youth groups on their legal rights.  She is a member of a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Steering Committee which is organising a “Unity Festival’ in November 2009, to highlight the continuing need of CALD communities for work on eliminating discrimination.  In May 2009 the solicitor and CD/CLE worker will attend a Seniors Expo in Tweed and present a CLE on Powers of Attorney. 

The new office is in Murwillumbah and was officially opened by the NSW Attorney General, the Hon. John Hatzistergos on 13 March 2009.  It employs two part-time staff - a Solicitor and a Community Development/Community Legal Education (CD/CLE) worker. 

NRCLC’s solicitor provides free legal advice to the local community at the Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah Courthouses and at the Pottsville Neighbourhood Centre on a rotating basis.  Since the official opening all appointments have been fully booked.

NRCLC is pleased, but not surprised by the demand on appointments in the new office.  More than half of NRCLC’s clients have always come from the Tweed area, even though the Centre is based in Lismore.  NRCLC believes the high demand on their services demonstrates the great need in this area, not only for a Community Legal Centre, but also for a locally based office of the Legal Aid Commission.

2. CLCs Lead on Human Rights Consultation:


As we reported in the March edition of OTR, the Federal Government is currently collecting submissions as part of a consultation into human rights protection in Australia.

We encourage all organisations and individuals to make a submission.

You have until Monday 15 June 2009 to send in your submissions as part of the national consultation.

Submissions can be sent electronically or by post or be completed on-line on the national consultation website. Click here for further reading and resources.
To have your say go to: http://www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au/

A). CLCs take Human Rights Consultations into their communities:

Baby Harper 'speaks' out for human rights protection:
The NSW Charter Group, which includes several CLCs, has announced the winner of its very short video competition and the two-minute video is available on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G1fyOFb5Yk

Harper's mother and producer of the winning video, Rosanne Bersten, had the idea of using still images of baby Harper mixed with an evocative soundtrack when she was seven months pregnant. 'I had the idea to use images of Harper because I believe human rights belong to everyone, even newborn babies. Even though a baby doesn't have a personality or beliefs, they still have rights because they are human. It also highlights that human rights legislation is designed to protect the most vulnerable people in society,' Rosanne said.

The video features a series of poignant images of Harper overlaid by statements explaining why human rights protections should be introduced in Australia. The sound track features work by two local musicians; the lead singer of one track, Natalie Pa'apa'a is Indigenous while the vocal on the other, produced by Kim Cunio and Heather Lee, is a former refugee.

North and North West Community Legal Service: North and North West Community Legal Service is preparing a submission to the National Human Rights Consultation as part of a collective submission from Armidale Dumaresq Council. Information about the consultation is posted on their web site and has been sent with client letters. A poster and submission box is displayed in the waiting area of the Service’s office.

More information about North & North West Community Legal Service Inc. can be found on our website: www.nnwcls.org.au or by phoning this toll free number: 1800 687 687.

Illawarra Legal Centre runs info stalls and workshops: The Illawarra Legal Centre (ILC) is participating in the National Consultation on How Best to Protect Human Rights in Australia. The ILC Human Rights Working Group ("HRWG") is chaired by generalist solicitor Simon Howard. The HRWG has participated in the Community Consultation in Wollongong and sessions run by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

The HRWG has held information stalls on human rights at the University of Wollongong and in Wollongong Mall. Human rights workshops and consultations have been held at local TAFE colleges.

The ILC submission to the National Consultation Committee will be built upon case-work experience of human rights issues encountered in our work and will also draw upon real life experiences gathered from the local community at our human rights information stalls.

Kingsford Legal Centre Consultation on the Protection of Human Rights in Australia: Since the beginning of the year, Kingsford Legal Centre has been busy promoting the Commonwealth government’s consultation on the protection of human rights in Australia. To assist people in making a submission, Kingsford Legal Centre developed a simple 2-page submission.Over 250 have been completed and these will be forwarded to the Consultation Committee by Kingsford Legal Centre. 

Workshops and presentations have been made to a several community service organisations, members of the public and meetings of the local interagency groups.  KLC has also had information stalls at a number of community events.  These included 2009 Yabun Festival, Randwick City Community Fair, Indonesian Information Fair, the Russian Speakers Expo and the Junction Neighbourhood Centre Open Day. To encourage workers to make submission on the human rights issues that their clients face, presentations have been made a number of interagency groups such as the Eastern Suburbs Domestic Violence Network, the Eastern Suburbs Interagency Group, the Eastern Suburbs HACC Forum and the Eastern Sydney Disability Interagency.

Information and assistance with writing a submission has also been held for several organisations and their clients.  This included the Windgap Foundation, a service assisting people with an intellectual disability and their families where several people with an intellectual disability completed a submission.  A community BBQ was held for the Aboriginal community living at La Perouse where information on human rights and the consultation was provided with submissions being received from community members.

To inform the general public on human rights and the consultation, articles have been published in all of the local community newsletters.  Static displays have been held at four of the local community libraries and the Law Library at UNSW.

All KLC clients were informed of the consultation and were encouraged to make a submission.  KLC is also currently preparing a submission.

For more information on these activities please contact Anna Hartree, Coordinator Kingsford Legal Centre on 9385 9566 or by email a.hartree@unsw.edu.au.  For information on the KLC submission please contact Emma Golledge on 9385 9566 or by email e.golledge@unsw.edu.au

"Rights Here, Right Now" – Marrickville CLC runs youth forum: As part of the National Human Rights Consultation, a Youth Forum was held on Thursday 21 May 2009 at Marrickville Town Hall. The forum, entitled "Rights Here, Right Now", provided an opportunity for young people to be involved in expressing their views on their rights and providing feedback on how to address gaps in current laws/policies.  The forum was a huge success and involved the participation of 100 young people from a variety of different schools and youth services from the inner West, Bankstown/Canberbury area and the St George region.

The Youth Forum was officially opened by the Human Rights Commissioner, Graeme Innes and also involved theatre performances and facilitated group discussions on 5 issues:

•    Police and young people;
•    Public space issues;
•    Debt issues (such as mobile phone contracts, fines);
•    Technology and young people (looking at privacy in the context of online social networking sites); and
•    School and education

The Youth Forum was organised by Katrina Wong, Children's Solicitor at Marrickville Legal Centre in partnership with community organisations including Headspace, Marrickville Youth Resource Centre, Marrickville Youth Council and was supported by the Australian Human Rights Commission.  The comments and feedback raised during the day will form part of the Youth Justice Coalition's submission to the National Human Rights Consultation.
 

B). Human Rights Consultation Events:

UNSW Forum: Does Australia need a Human Rights Act?
Monday 1 June, 6 -8 pm Venue: Law Theatre G04, Law School, University of NSW, Kensington Panel: Malcolm Frazer, Stephen Keim, Keith Mason, Andrew Lynch, Ed Santow http://www.amnesty.org.au/nsw/event/20821/

People with intellectual disabilities have their say (IDRS)
Monday 1 June, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Venue: Redfern Town Hall, 73 Pitt St, Redfern Call Margaret on 93180144, or contact LindaS@idrs.org.au, if you want copies of resources developed for this consultation.

C). Human Rights Consultation Resources:

Recent speeches:

D). Campaign websites:

Amnesty International Australia campaign. Online submission form:
Australian Human Rights Group http://www.humanrightsact.com.au/ahrg/

E). Human Rights Toolkits:

Australian Human Rights Commission: Let's Talk about Rights toolkit for organisations and individuals wishing to participate in the national consultation. Available at: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/letstalkaboutrights/

For young people and as classroom activities, go to: http://www.humanrights.gov.au/education/resources/index.html

Fact sheet on prisoners and human rights at: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/letstalkaboutrights/info.html

Law Council of Australia: Fact sheets and case studies available at: http://www.lawcouncil.asn.au/initiatives/bill-of-rights.cfm

Public Interest Advocacy Centre: Protecting Human Rights in Australia, Information Kit http://www.piac.asn.au/publications/hrkit.html

UnitingJustice Consultation Toolkit. The toolkit and other human rights resources by UnitingJustice are available on its website: www.unitingjustice.org.au

F). Other books on human rights:

Amnesty International, We are all born free (2008). To honor the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, each of its 30 articles, written in terms children can understand, is illustrated here by artists who beautifully bring these concepts to a child's level.

Andrew Byrnes, Hilary Charlesworth, Gabrielle McKinnon, Bills of Rights in Australia: history, politics and law (2009). The authors provide a clear, readable consideration of the arguments for and against greater protection of human rights.

Gilbert + Tobin Centre for Public Law, Would an Australian Charter of Rights Be Good for Business? A position paper available at: http://www.gtcentre.unsw.edu.au/Resources/cohr/goodForBusiness.asp

Geoffrey Robertson, The Statute of Liberties (2009). Roberston's latest book explores in very accessible style and language how human rights might have particular historic and cultural relevance to Australia.

Michel Streich, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2008). A vivid and strikingly illustrated edition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. YouTube video about book:
Professor Spencer Zifcak and Alison King, Wrong, Rights and Remedies: An Australian Charter? An essay by, available at: http://www.australiancollaboration.com.au/booksreports/index.html

3. Community Law:


Building the profile of the Western Sydney Tenants Service Parramatta:

Western Sydney Tenants Service (WESTS) Parramatta, auspiced by Macquarie Legal Centre, has been busy publicising its services throughout the Parramatta, Holyrod, Auburn and Blakctown areas. Tenant advocate Linda Grady did an interview on a local radio station, SWR FM, to promote the service. Every month, WESTS run an average of two Community Legal Education sessions (CLEs) with communities that have been identified as needing assistance in understanding their rights and responsibilities including members of local African and Karin communities. WESTS staff are holding CLEs with clients from the Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association and Department of Aging Disability and Home Care. Staff also undertake duty advocacy at the Parramatta Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal twice a month.

Same Sex Couples Community Legal Education in the Illawarra:

The Illawarra Legal Centre in collaboration with the Inner City Legal Education Centre Gay & Lesbian Advice Service is running a Community Legal Education seminar (CLE) on recent changes to the law affecting same sex couples. The presentation will cover a range of legal areas including: Centrelink; parenting issues; discrimination and financial issues; employment & worker’s compensation; evidence; veterans’ affairs; Medicare; superannuation; aged care; migration; and legal issues for Transgender & Intersex people. For further information please contact the Illawarra Legal Centre on 4276 1939.

‘Law Matters’ on air! North and North West CLC radio program:

North & North West Community Legal Service Inc. hosts an hour long, weekly radio programme, ‘Law Matters’ on the Community Radio Station 2ARM 92.1FM, talking on various topics with some invited guest speakers.  A recent programme discussed aspects of Constitutional Law with Bryan Pape, Senior Lecturer at UNE, who challenged the validity of the Federal Government’s Stimulus Package in the High Court. Others topics have included Human Rights Consultation, aspects of Family Law with guest speaker Michael Green QC, tenancy issues with KerryAnn Pankhurst, Service Manager of NEWTAAS, Aged-care rights with Stephen Newell of TARS, credit and debt matters, civil claims and road and traffic offences. The Radio Station broadcasts to a potential audience of some 30,000 people.

North & North West Community Legal Service staff are also looking at ways to load some recorded discussions onto their website: (http://www.nnwcls.org.au). Fact sheets on Family Law with FAQ’s about divorce and links to various sites are already posted, with many more currently under construction.

North & North West Community Legal Service also provides the legal seminar component of the Armidale and Districts Traffic Offenders Intervention Program. The program was developed in partnership with Armidale Local Court and Armidale PCYC.

The service is also currently coaching the New England Girl’s School in the NSW Law Society Mock Trial competition. For more information see http://www.nnwcls.org.au

Kingsford Legal Centre Aboriginal Legal Access Project progresses:

Kingsford Legal Centre’s (KLC) Aboriginal Access Worker, Keith Ball commenced in November 2008 as the Aboriginal Access Worker.  Over the past 6 months a good working relationship has begun to be established with the local Aboriginal community in the Botany and Randwick local government areas.  An outreach service at Yarra Bay House in La Perouse for the local Aboriginal community has continued on a weekly basis.

In June an outreach service to the local youth centre, The Shack will be provided every fourth Monday of each month.  This service will provide the teenage and pre teenage populations in the local area with a stronger opportunity for them to access legal advice in an environment where they feel comfortable.  The KLC Aboriginal Advisory Group (KLC AAG) held it s first meeting in April.   There are currently 4 Indigenous community members on the group.

Upcoming projects include a drawing/painting/digital art competition for Indigenous students at local primary and high schools will be undertaken of which the winning pieces will be used on future KLC Indigenous resources.

As a result of all of Keith’s hard work KLC’s quarterly statistics for the period ending March 2009 have seen an increase in the number of Indigenous clients accessing our services.  Over this period, 5% of the clients identified as Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander.  This is the first time this level has been reached since this particular information has been recorded.

Elizabeth Evatt CLC responds to unmet legal needs in care and protection:

EECLC’s Care and Protection Early Intervention Advocacy Project will soon be entering its final phase. The Project is a response to unmet legal needs in the care and protection system for clients and workers in the Blue Mountains, Greater Lithgow, Oberon, Bathurst and surrounding communities.

The Project has three important goals:
-    To improve access to legal advice and minor assistance for marginalised and disadvantaged clients involved in care and protection matters
-    To facilitate regional training opportunities for government and non government care and protection workers focusing on collaborative practice;
-    To promote a co-ordinated and holistic interagency approach to care and protection at the local level.

Phase 1 involved stakeholder consultations with some 58 organisations located in the region conducted by project consultant Robin Thomas. Her report (March 2009) identifies the key local challenges in care and protection, including access barriers, communication issues and systemic problems.

Phase 2 commenced in mid-March with the appointment of Sean Cooke as EECLC’s new Care and Protection Paralegal worker. Sean’s role is to address some of the concerns raised in the Thomas Report, with a particular emphasis on the provision of legal information to community workers located between Lapstone and Bathurst. Sean’s role is to:
-     Provide assistance in navigating the complex legalities associated with the care and protection system, especially around Court processes and relevant legislation;
-    provide legal information on care and protection issues in plain and simple language;
-    develop relationships with workers in the sector in order to build more effective collaborative approaches to care and protection issues;
-    consult with community care and protection workers on their experiences with the system, in an effort to identify systemic issues that may need to be addressed at a broader level.

From 1 July, the project will move to its final phase, with the delivery of more accessible legal services, a community legal education strategy and a framework for improved collaboration between services. More information on the Care & Protection Early Intervention Advocacy Project and copies of the Thomas report be obtained from Sean Cooke at EECLC on (02) 4782 4155 or plt@eeclc.org.au.

4. Human Rights in Action:


A win for Homeless Persons Legal Service client in Supreme Court of NSW bail hearing:

A client of the Homeless Persons' Legal Service (HPLS) was refused bail in the Central Local Court on 1 January 2009 following an alleged assault upon his carer, with whom he was ordered to reside by the Court on 2 December 2008. He was also facing a charge of alleged assault upon his former neighbour.
The 60-year-old man has been in Australia for 36 years. In 1999, he had suffered a stroke, which left him paralyzed on his right side. It also contributed to his extensive history of offending as he was subject to mood swings.

In January this year, while in custody, he was evicted from his housing commission unit. Before that he was prevented by his bail conditions from going back to that unit in order to protect his former neighbour. Effectively, once he had assaulted his carer he was homeless and bail, at least in the Local Court, became difficult if not impossible to obtain, as he had no residence and thus no community ties for the purposes of section 32 of the Bail Act 1978 (NSW).

HPLS made an application to the Supreme Court of NSW for review of bail, which came before Justice Adams on 15 April 2009. Justice Adams was of the view that while the man had an extensive criminal record, the two assault charges were the lower end of the scale in terms of offending. His Honour stated that the client, if he had a residence to go to, would normally get bail.

Justice Adams was also concerned that despite various attempts to find accommodation, no crisis or like accommodation could be found for people in this man's predicament. His Honour said that the only thing keeping him in custody was his homelessness. Justice Adams requested that the prosecution make enquiries with the various State entities dealing with housing and welfare with a view to advising the Court why urgent accommodation could not be found. The matter was adjourned to 17 April 2009 for these enquiries to be made.

Between 15 and 17 April HPLS and Wesley Mission managed to find the man crisis accommodation at Edward Eagar Lodge. On 17 April 2009 Justice Adams granted HPLS's client bail to reside at Edward Eagar Lodge.For more information, contact HPLS Solicitor Advocate, Jeremy Rea, on 02 8898 6540 or jrea@piac.asn.au The Homeless Persons' Legal Service is a joint initiative of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH).

Welfare Rights Centre says "Youth compact could save a generation, but handle with care":

The Government’s compact with young Australians has the potential to save a generation of young people from a bleak future of long term unemployment and poverty, argues the National Welfare Rights Network.  This initiative is a welcome and long overdue investment in young people and the nation’s future.  However, it is misleading of the Government to suggest that young people are currently being paid to “do nothing”.  The requirements for Youth Allowance are already tough enough.

“In order to be eligible for Youth Allowance a young person needs to be actively engaged in either full-time study or looking for full time work. Job seekers are required to look for 10 jobs a fortnight and they may be required to participate in Work for the Dole. With the acknowledgement that job opportunities for young people are rapidly drying up it makes sense to impose more realistic obligations. The existing requirements on young people to look for work or be involved in training or education are rigorously enforced. The fact that one in four of all Social Security penalties hit young people is ample evidence that the system is tough on those who fail to comply with their obligations.

“If a young person cannot work or study due to illness, extreme family circumstances or homelessness then they may be excused from meeting any requirements for a period of time. The Government has not specifically mentioned whether these important safeguards will remain in place.  To avoid undue anxiety for vulnerable young people and their parents or guardians there is an urgent need for the Government to clarify that existing safeguards which provide for exemptions from job search and other requirements will continue.

“Young people will want to know that any training or educational activities provide them with the necessary skills to get a job when the economy recovers. Activity for activity sake that provides no lasting skills is a waste of time and will be ultimately counterproductive.

“The missing element in the package is additional levels of income support to enable young people to participate fully in education or training. Levels of payments for young people on Youth Allowance living independently can be as low as $186 per week, which is $39 less than Newstart Allowance and is currently 43.73% below the Henderson Poverty Line.

“If the Government is really serious about genuinely assisting young people into training and education, they will need to implement the recommendations of the Bradley Review about assistance for students, which found that payments for young people were totally inadequate.

“The Bradley Review found that the age at which young people remained dependent upon their parents, at 25, was too high, and that the Parental Income Test was too harsh and needed to be reformed. Unless these issues are tackled in the coming Budget the intentions of the Government and the aspirations of young people will be further dashed.

“NWRN looks forward to working with the Government as it puts in place these measures.”

For information contact: Kate Beaumont, President Welfare Rights Network on 0414 792 923 or Gerard Thomas, Policy and Media Officer, Welfare Rights Centre (NSW): 0425 296 882.

Recent Environmental Defenders Office NSW submissions:
Changes to Stolen Wages Scheme - Deadline 31 May 2009 - PIAC:

The registration deadline for potential claimants to make a Stolen Wages claim is the end of May 2009.

The repayment of withheld wages, benefits, pensions and other entitlements to members of the Indigenous community is a very important issue and currently repayments are being made in NSW through the Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme. Unfortunately, the Repayment Scheme is not widely advertised and so PIAC is asking you to let people know about the registration deadline. The scheme has recently changed some of the key elements of its operation. If you or another family member has made a claim in relation to the trust fund of a deceased relative only the person who has made the claim will be eligible for payment. The spouse, all living children, or all living grandchildren may be eligible under the scheme and should get in touch with the scheme to register.

To contact the NSW Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme, call 1800 765 889.For more information about PIAC's Indigenous Justice Program (IJP), contact IJP Senior Solicitor, Vavaa Mawuli, on 02 8898 6527 or vmuwali@piac.asn.au. The Indigenous Justice Program was established in 2001 with funding support from law firm, Allens Arthur Robinson. This continued funding enables PIAC to employ a full-time solicitor in the Indigenous Justice Program.

5. Publications:


Arts Law - Sample Indigenous Artist and Art Centre Agreement:

This sample Indigenous Artist and Art Centre Agreement has been developed for Indigenous Art Centres to use with its artists members where the Art Centre sells the work of the artist on consignment and provides services to the Artist (such as promoting the Artist, providing canvasses at no cost and assisting the professional development of the artist). The agreement can be on an exclusive or a non-exclusive basis. Arts Law strongly recommends legal advice be sought on the agreement you have drafted before you sign or rely upon the agreement. If the agreement is changed this may affect its legal accuracy. All changes should be checked with a lawyer. To download the agreement go to: http://www.artslaw.com.au/

Tenants Union embraces blog technology

The TU now has a blog – the Brown Couch: “Like the iconic piece of share-house furniture after which it is named, the Brown Couch is a place where tenants can catch up on the latest news, be cheaply entertained, and commune with their fellow tenants.”

To read the blog visit: http://tunswblog.blogspot.com/

Here is an excerpt in response to the recent Federal Budget:

"Tuesday, May 12, 2009" The Brown Couch's Budget Reply Speech

It is with regret that the Brown Couch, having applauded the Federal Government's second stimulus package in February, must now issue a strong boo in reply to its Budget.

The booing is deserved for two reasons.

The first, of course, is the decision to extend the Boost to the First Home Owners Grant until the end of the year (albeit at a reduced amount for the last three of the six months). So first home buyers can continue to pay too much for their housing for the next six months (and, because almost all of them also borrow heavily, they will also be paying too much for the next three decades or so).

I understand the argument that the Boost, as it applies to newly-built dwellings, stimulates employment in the building industry. But that argument doesn't hold in relation to existing dwellings, which is where most of the Boost money goes. (And I think the housing industry lobby agrees. In the pre-Budget speculation about the fate of the Boost, they were implicitly saying: keep the newly-built-dwelling-Boost and, if you must, ditch the existing-dwelling-Boost.)

The Boost, as it applies to existing dwellings, doesn't keep builders and tradies employed. Let's call it for what it is: it's part of Australia's own housing-bubble bailout. This is a bailout of house-price speculators, partly financed by the taxpayer through the FHOG Boost, and partly debt-financed by first home buyers. And for many of the latter, as the recession hits harder and they lose their jobs, their participation in the bailout will end in tears.

The second reason for booing: what the Budget does in relation to pensions and other social security payments – or more accurately, what it does not do. One feels a bit curmudgeonly for begrudging Age Pensioners their increase, but not all of them need it so much as the social security recipients who rent privately do. These folks include Age Pensioners, but also Single Parent Payment recipients, Newstart recipients and others, and their housing costs have recently much more than the housing costs of Age Pensioners who own their homes or who rent in social housing.

The better way to go would have been to increase these citizens' incomes through the Rent Assistance payment. In particular, the Government should have lifted the maximum amount of Rent Assistance a person can be paid, because currently it is capped at amounts that leave some recipients in severe housing stress. This would entail no across-the-board increases, nor any expansion of eligibility, so shouldn't inflate rents generally – instead it would be targeted assistance to people who desperately need it. But no, they'll not be getting it from this Budget.

Environmental Defenders Office NSW – Capacity building for environmental law in the South Pacific:

This report was prepared by the EDO at the request of the IUCN Environmental Law Program.

It is intended to inform the development and implementation of a project to build the environmental law capacity of government and nongovernment organisations in the South Pacific region, to be delivered jointly by the IUCN and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), in collaboration with government and non-government partners throughout the region.
The report provides an overview of the following topics:
-    environmental issues in the South Pacific;
-    environmental law and policy in the South Pacific;
-    key institutions and existing capacity-building programs; and
-    proposed capacity-building strategies and activities.
Available for download: http://www.edo.org.au/edonsw/site/publications.php#pacific

Arts Law: CHILDREN IN THE CREATIVE PROCESS: INFORMATION FOR ARTISTS AND ARTS ORGANISATIONS – Australia

Freedom of expression is a fundamental principle in the arts. However there are a number of aspects where that freedom is limited by law, and where the interests of an artist and the interests of the children they work with must be balanced according to the legislation. Where the artistic and creative process involves children, the law imposes a number of limits and constraints designed to protect children from exploitation or harm. If you are contemplating working with or using children in any part of the creative or artistic process, it is vital that you understand the legal rules that apply. Ensure that you read this fact sheet, and then the one which applies specifically to your state or territory. Check the list at the end of this fact sheet for the names and links of the state and territory information sheets. To download: http://www.artslaw.com.au/LegalInformation/ChildrenInTheCreativeProcess/

6. Events and Developments:


Illawarra Legal Centre screens “Burn”:

You cannot miss this film. ‘Burn’ is a short film that carries a powerful message that every young person, worker in the community and parent should see.  Burn has an important crime prevention message about the tragic and avoidable consequences of a violent offence. The Illawarra Legal Centre (ILC) and Wollongong Youth Centre are pleased to present the Legal Aid NSW film:

Wollongong Youth Centre: Burelli Street Wollongong, Thursday 14th May 3.30pm -5pm Film Screening 4pm

Margaret Wall, a Wollongong Legal Aid solicitor will facilitate a discussion on the issues raised in the film. There will be light refreshments before and after the film. Please RSVP by calling Sharon Callaghan at the ILC on 42754702 Truda Gray at the ILC on 42754701 The Illawarra Legal Centre Inc on 42761939 Wollongong Youth Centre on 42265969

Pacific Calling and EDO Seminar: Explaining the CPRS:

The Edmund Rice Centre's Pacific Calling program, in partnership with the EDO, would like to invite you to this free morning seminar explaining the ins and outs of the Federal Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). The seminar aims to give a broad plain-language overview of the CPRS and the various implications of its implementation in Australia.
Time: 10am til 12pm Date: Tuesday 2 June 2009 Venue: Parish Hall, 15 Henley Rd, Homebush West (next to the Edmund Rice Centre)
Light refreshments will be provided. For more information, or to register your interest, call (02) 9262 6989.

Macquarie Legal Centre Workshop for people working with the young:

Macquarie Legal Centre will be running a full day workshop for youth workers, teachers, social and community workers. The workshop will be held on Tuesday 23 June 2009 from 10am – 3.30pm at the Parramatta Heritage Centre (346A Church Street, Parramatta NSW)

There are a number of key speakers covering topics relevant to the youth of today, such as police powers, childrens’ court, bail, cyber bullying, Young Offenders Act, group offences and many more.

There are two deals: you can either choose the package deal for  $75.00 where together with the workshop you will receive the ‘Youth Justice – Your Guide to Cops and Courts in New South Wales’ – 3rd Edition (approx 380 page) book retailing at $49.95 and a deck of ‘The Real Deal – Youth Justice Cards’ retailing at $5.00 per deck.

Or there is the option of attending the workshop alone, without the ‘Youth Justice Book’ and ‘The Real Deal - Youth Justice Cards’.  Cost of attending the workshop alone is $40.00. If you have any questions contact: Figen (02) 8833 0994      figen_cingiloglu@clc.net.au or Jessica Shah (02) 8833 0981 jessica_shah@clc.net.au

Womens Legal Centre: WRITE FOR RIGHTS!

HOW TO HAVE YOUR SAY ABOUT THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF WOMEN EXPERIENCING DOMESTIC/FAMILY VIOLENCE
Wednesday 3rd of June, 2009 from 2 - 4: 30 pm, Gilbert & Tobin Lawyers, Level 37, 2 Park St, Sydney
Register at: womens_nsw@clc.net.au

Arts Law Centre  and Penrith City Council proudly presents the Artist + Community Toolkit Workshop Series 2009:

Workshop for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists and communities. Learn about Community Cultural Development (CCD) and how to make collaborative projects and place making with artists and communities. A workshop specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists and communities presented by Arts Law Centre of Australia. 10.30am – 1.00pm Thursday 27 August. Penrith Library Theatrette, Penrith City Council Civic Centre, 601 High Street, Penrith RSVP: 5pm Monday 21st September to (02) 47328098 or cvandyk-dunlevy@penrithcity.nsw.gov.au

7. What Are CLCs 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. 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.

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