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On the Record - Issue20 September 2012


On The Record – The e-bulletin


Community Legal Centres: Community, Compassion, Justice
Issue #20

September 2012

This is the 20th edition of On The Record, the quarterly e-bulletin of Community Legal Centres NSW Incorporated (CLCNSW).  CLCNSW is the peak representative body for Community Legal Centres (CLCs) in NSW.  CLCs are independent community organisations providing equitable and accessible legal services.  To find out more about CLCs in NSW visit www.clcnsw.org.au

If you do not wish to receive future issues of On the Record, please follow the instructions to unsubscribe 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. Community Legal Sector News

Editorial: Increasing demand on CLC services

Review of Public Purpose Funding

Legal Aid NSW / CLC Partnership Projects for 2012-13 Announced

CLCNSW commits to a Reconciliation Action Plan

 

2. Community Law

PIAC’s Law for Non-Lawyers

Hunter CLC out in the Community Legal Centres NSW

Central Coast Youth Legal Outreach at Gosford

Visa Cancellation Matters

 

3. Human Rights in action

NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into the Partial Defence of Provocation

Victims Compensation: Vital for Victims

Housing Repairs Campaign

 

 

4. Case reports

Credit and debt complaint

 

5. Media mentions

Connecting with the community

 

6. Publications

New publication on mining and CSG law

Independent Social Security Handbook 7th edition

LawPrompt – a resource with lots of legal information!

Research reveals Gays & Lesbians still experience sever discrimination and vilification

Economic Cost Benefit Analysis of CLCs Report

Tenants’ Union publishes fourth edition of Tenants’ Rights Manual

The Share Housing Survival Guide online

 

7. Events, commendations and developments

Recognition of legal representation of young people

National CLCs conference

Australian Government NGO Forum on Human Rights

 

8. State Office Update

Aboriginal Legal Access Program

Accreditation Scheme

Sector Development

 

9. What are Community Legal Centres and what is CLCNSW?

 

1. Community Legal Sector News

 

 

Editorial: Increasing demand on CLC services

 

The recently released ACOSS Australian Community Sector Survey 2012 revealed that 73% of legal services around Australia reported not being able to meet demand.  This news will be far from surprising for the 38 community legal centres around NSW.  For years, we have experienced increasing demand for legal information and advice.  Moreover, CLCs have experienced extra demand on their services when there are adverse changes to government policy or to the economic well being of communities.  A recent example is the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), which resulted in an alarming and dramatic increase in the need for legal assistance for consumer credit issues, including mortgage payments and credit card debts.

How do CLCs respond to these demands?  With great difficulty yet with a sense of resilience.  CLCs have, since their inception, developed innovative strategies for efficient use of limited resources.  Some of these strategies are:

Community legal education

CLCs are experts in community legal education – they work closely with their communities to develop easily understood legal resources to assist people in the community to understand better the law and to prevent legal issues from escalating.

Referrals

CLCs develop effective relationships with other community-based organisations, such as welfare and family support organisations, to enable referrals to take place between the organisations.  This means that CLC clients who may need non-legal assistance are not passed endlessly from one organisation to another; they are instead provided with targeted support.

Volunteer and pro bono support

Many CLCs would be unable to provide the services they currently do without the support of lawyers who volunteer their time for the CLCs.  This support can range from attending evening advice clinics, researching and drafting law reform submissions, and providing advice on governance issues, such as reviewing constitutions and employment contracts.

 

Whilst CLCs are highly skilled in using limited resources efficiently, there can be no substitute to meeting demand by increased funding – cold hard cash needs to flow into CLC bank accounts.  The research and literature, such as the ACOSS 2012 survey, is clear: unless there is a significant increase in financial investment by government, it is more likely than not that in 2013, ACOSS will, once again, be reporting that more than 73% of legal services are unable to meet demand.

 

Alastair McEwin, Director CLCNSW

Send him an email

 

Review of Public Purpose Funding

 

On 21 September 2012, The Australian newspaper reported that the NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith SC MP, has announced a review of NSW Public Purpose Fund (PPF) spending.  The media report states that there are concerns about the deteriorating position of the PPF.

 

The PPF is administered by the NSW Law Society.  Its income is generated by the interest accrued from solicitors’ trust funds and is used to fund programs and projects that are deemed by the PPF Trustees to be in the public interest of the community.  Projects can include those that provide access to legal services for economically or socially disadvantaged people and communities.

 

CLCs in NSW make up a significant proportion of the beneficiaries of this funding.  The funding enables CLCs to operate programs which range from outreach services to isolated rural communities, projects targeted to specific groups in the communities, and community legal education to Aboriginal communities.  For some CLCs, PPF funding is anywhere between 30 and 70 per cent of their total income.  Loss of PPF funding for these CLCs would have dire consequences on their operations, not to mention the impact it would have on the communities they serve.  The PPF also funds state-wide programs including the Aboriginal Legal Access Program (ALAP) and the Children’s Court Assistance Scheme (CCAS).

 

At the time of writing this article, details of the review have not yet been released to the sector.  CLCNSW is committed to ensuring ongoing funding for these CLCs.  We hope the review of PPF funding is conducted in a constructive, collaborative and positive approach and look forward to working with the Attorney General to achieve sustainable outcomes for PPF funding of CLC programs.

 

Further information: Alastair McEwin, Director CLCNSW, send him an email

 

Legal Aid NSW/CLC Partnership Projects for 2012-13 Announced

 

 

The Legal Aid NSW / CLC Partnership Program is a funding program for one-off projects which are undertaken in genuine partnership between at least one CLC and Legal Aid NSW.  A total of $100,000 is made available every financial year for innovative and responsive projects which aim to provide access to justice for disadvantaged people in NSW.  A small panel comprising representatives from Legal Aid NSW and CLCNSW met several times to consider the applications for 2012-13, with its recommendations being approved in mid August 2012.

 

The 2012-13 projects are:

 

Linked In: Addressing young persons civil law needs

A partnership between Marrickville Legal Centre and the Children’s Legal Service at Legal Aid NSW.

This will identify the civil law needs of young people who are in contact with the criminal justice system and implement a civil law referral service with the Youth Legal Service at Marrickville LC for civil law advice and case assistance.

 

Income Management Information and Advice Project

A partnership between the Welfare Rights Centre and the Government Law Unit within Legal Aid NSW.

The project will provide access to legal information and advice on income management and teen parent place based trials to vulnerable people within the Bankstown local government area.

It will also provide advocacy to vulnerable people wishing to exercise their appeal rights in relation to decisions made under the trials and provide Community Legal Education on rights and obligations under social security law in relation to the trials.  The project partners will work closely with South West Sydney Legal Centre in relation to income management work for which it received one off Commonwealth funding.

 

A project working with Aboriginal men in the Shoalhaven regarding family law matters

A partnership between Shoalcoast CLC and the Nowra Legal Aid Office.  The project will involve working with Family Lawyers in the Shoalhaven to determine skills and knowledge regarding working with Aboriginal clients and barriers which exist.  It will increase knowledge and skills amongst service providers working with Aboriginal men and provide opportunities for Aboriginal men to come together with Practitioners to talk about family law and related matters as a separating or separated parent.

 

Legal Literacy in Prison Project

A partnership between the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Hawkesbury Nepean CLC, Women’s Legal Services, Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre, NSW Corrective Services and the CLE Unit within Legal Aid NSW.

The project aims to provide a legal education program to inmates within the framework of the existing Adult Basic Education curriculum offered to prisoners in NSW Correctional Centres.  The Project aims to equip both prisoners and teachers employed by NSW Corrective Services, with up-to-date and accurate legal information in areas of law relevant to prisoners. It will complement existing legal resources available to prisoners, such as the Back on Track DVD series and the Legal Information Portal, by integrating these resources into the courses.

 

Further information: Bronwyn McCutcheon, State Program Manager, Legal Aid NSW, send her an email

 

CLCNSW commits to a Reconciliation Action Plan

 

CLCNSW has committed to developing and launching a Reconciliation Action Plan by March 2013.  A Reconciliation Action Plan (or RAP) is a document that promotes a relationship of respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.  The CLCNSW RAP will formalise the organisation’s contribution to reconciliation by identifying clear actions with realistic targets.  It is being developed in consultation with Aboriginal CLC workers, the Aboriginal Advisory Group and CLC stakeholders.

CLCNSW, through its Aboriginal Legal Access Program, is committed to enhancing the ability of CLCs to increase access to their services for Aboriginal people and communities in NSW.  We look forward to launching the RAP in 2013 and to continuing to work with CLCs to ensure access to justice for Aboriginal people and communities.

Further information: Alastair McEwin, Director CLCNSW

Send him an email

 

2.         Community law

 

PIAC’s Law for Non-Lawyers

 

Twenty-eight community service workers from the NSW South Coast and Southern Tablelands met in Goulburn recently in a concerted effort to break the cycle of homelessness.  The community service workers joined a one-day training workshop presented by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and Legal Aid NSW.

 

Called Law for Non-Lawyers, the workshop addressed common legal problems faced by people at risk of becoming homeless. The workshop gave community workers the information they need to support early intervention for problems such as debt, fines, social security and tenancy issues.  At the end of the training, participants said the insights, skills and knowledge shared in the course would be extremely useful in their work assisting clients.

 

The next Law for Non-Lawyers training is scheduled for 5 and 6 November 2012.

 

Further information: visit the Law for Non-Lawyers webpage or call Lena Lowe at PIAC on (02) 8898 6503.

 

Hunter CLC out in the community

 

In June and August the Hunter Community Legal Centre (HCLC) presented the first two topics in its 2012 Community Legal Education Program on AVOs and Problem Neighbours.  A total of 16 attendees from various community organisations attended the two sessions at HCLC’s premises which were very well received.

 

In August Liz Pinnock and Kim Richardson attended and made submissions at the Joint Regional Planning Panel on the proposed new court complex in Newcastle. They argued on HCLC’s behalf that the proposed development did not adequately cater for people with disability because the development plan did not provide any disabled parking spaces for those attending court.  It was argued by HCLC that the design of any public building should be socially inclusive and take into account the needs of all court users, including the disabled.  A de-identified case study was provided of a HCLC client who would find it difficult to attend court without access to disabled parking.  HCLC’s submissions were also reported in the local media.

 

In September HCLC provided a law reform submission to the NSW Law Reform Commission in response to a question paper issued by the NSWLRC on defendants in Apprehended Violence Order (“AVO”) matters who suffer from cognitive and mental health impairments.  HCLC argued that adults who experience cognitive or mental health impairments often find it difficult to understand the terms of an AVO or to control their behaviour so as to comply with the Order.  In its submission HCLC argued that alternatives to AVOs should be considered by the Courts where a defendant in an AVO matter has a cognitive or mental health impairment, such as referral to mediation, education, training, counselling, medical treatment, or to programs aimed at assisting these defendants to adjust to different living situations or improve their social engagement.

 

In September HCLC also prepared and submitted to the State Member for Newcastle, Tim Owen, a law reform submission seeking the inclusion of a provision in the NSW Road Rules 2008 allowing for a medical exemption to be provided in cases where bicycle riders are unable to wear bicycle helmets. This submission was made in response to a client of HCLC who was issued with a number of penalty notices for failing to wear a bicycle helmet, but who had a number of disabilities including an abnormally large head, which prevented him from wearing a helmet. HCLC assisted the client in having all enforcement orders dismissed under section 32 of the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990. The submission compared and contrasted the regime for medical exemptions in other state and territory jurisdictions and made a recommendation that the regime for medical exemptions in Queensland be adopted in NSW, providing detailed reasons in support of the recommendation.

 

Copies of the above law reform submissions are available on the HCLC website.

 

Further information: Julie Vitnell, Coordinator, Hunter CLC, phone (02) 4040 9121 or send an email

 

Central Coast Youth Legal Outreach at Gosford

 

The Central Coast Community Legal Centre provides community legal education and a drop-in advice clinic as part of its legal outreach at Regional Youth Support Services Inc. (RYSS) at Gosford.

 

RYSS runs the “Rent It Keep It” tenancy programme and a related Living Skills programme for young people 16 to 21 years of age who are entering the rental housing market after leaving Juvenile Justice custody.

 

Young people in this group face many challenges to living independently.  As part of the Living Skills programme the Central Coast CLC provides legal advice and information about fines, minor criminal matters, complaints against police, debt matters, family law, AVOs and victim’s compensation.

 

The outreach operates every Tuesday from 11:00am – 12:30pm at RYSS at Gosford in association with the Living Skills Programme.

 

Further information:  Olenka Motyka, Solicitor, Central Coast Community Legal Centre, phone (02) 4353 4988

 

Visa Cancellation Matters

 

Kingsford LC recently wound up its Visa Cancellation Clinic project, which commenced in June 2011 with Partnership Program funding from the Legal Aid Commission.  The Clinic assisted over 60 clients, providing 35 advices, 14 minor assistance cases and 18 major cases.  Many of KLC’s students over the past 12 months have had the opportunity to work on these compelling matters, interviewing clients in prison, preparing statements for clients and family members and preparing submissions. Any CLC workers who are interested in taking on one of these matters can contact KLC for a chat and access to their precedents.

 

Further information: Anna Cody, Director, Kingsford Legal Centre, send her an email

 

3.         Human Rights in action

 

NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into the Partial Defence of Provocation

 

Women’s Legal Services NSW has been actively engaged in the NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into the Partial Defence of Provocation. The inquiry was announced less than a week after the sentencing of Mr Singh who killed his wife by strangling her and cutting her throat at least eight times with a box cutter. There had been a history of violence. Mr Singh was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a minimum of six years in jail.

 

The inquiry focuses both on whether or not to abolish/reform provocation and the reform of self-defence.

 

WLS NSW believes the complex question of the operation of these defences needs to be seen in context - it illuminates the failure of the government and our society generally, to eliminate violence against women. That women lose their lives at the hands of violent intimate partners – in 2007-08 in NSW 80% of intimate partner homicides involved women victims (source: Domestic Violence Death Reviews Team, Annual Report, 2010-11) – or feel that they have no choice to protect the lives of themselves and their children, but to kill their intimate violent partners, is a telling sign that we are systemically failing to address this serious human rights abuse.
 

WLS NSW is concerned that the inherent gender bias in the law operates in both directions:

a)   Men who kill their partners frequently have a murder charge reduced to manslaughter because they can persuade a jury that they were so overcome by jealousy (or loss of male honour) that they lost control;

b)   Women who kill their partners who have experienced long term and serious domestic violence are often convicted of murder or plead guilty to manslaughter due to feeling unable to persuade a jury that killing their partner is an act of self-defence.

 

WLS NSW recommends a phased approach to the abolition of provocation - with the immediate abolition of the partial defence in situations of a change in relationship (including an indication of separation, attempt to leave or separation; sexual jealousy); and non-violent homosexual advance. We also recommend the use of social framework evidence and ongoing education about domestic violence. WLS NSW also calls for a comprehensive and holistic review of all homicide defences to be undertaken by the NSW Law Reform Commission.

 

WLS NSW worked in collaboration with the NSW Domestic Violence Coalition Commission, substantially contributing to the self-defence section of their submission.  We also acknowledge Ashurst for their research assistance.

 

WLS NSW gave evidence at the recent hearings and continues to be engaged in the inquiry.  For a copy of its submission and media comments, see: http://www.womenslegalnsw.asn.au/law-and-policy-reform/recent-work.html

 

Further information: Liz Snell, Law Reform and Policy Co-ordinator, WLS NSW, send her an email

 

 

Victims Compensation: Vital for Victims

 

A number of Community Legal Centres in NSW are concerned by possible changes to the NSW Victims Compensation scheme and are part of the CLCNSW Victims Compensation Working Group campaigning on this issue.

 

The NSW Government announced a review of Victims Compensation in August 2011 which was undertaken by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC). Many CLCs and other organisations made submissions to this review.  The PwC report was due to Government by 30 June 2012. The CLCNSW Victims Compensation Working Group is calling for this report to be made public.

 

An online tool has also been created to help individuals and organisations write to their local member about their concerns, including retaining and strengthening victims compensation particularly for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Act now and write your own letter.

 

Further information:
Rachael Martin, Principal Solicitor, Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre, send her an email

Edwina MacDonald, Law Reform and Policy Solicitor/Clinical Supervisor, Kingsford LC, send her an email
Liz Snell, Law Reform and Policy Co-ordinator, WLS NSW, send her an email

 

 

Housing Repairs Campaign

 

The KLC Housing Repair campaign seeks to improve the standard of housing for clients living in Housing NSW properties.  KLC is continuing to work closely with Kooloora, Eastern Area Tenancy Service, and Working From the Ground Up to build the capacity of tenants groups on housing repairs issues and advocacy skills.  As part of this KLC has delivered two workshops at Kooloora on housing repairs applications and letter writing skills.  KLC was also successful in getting a member of Parliament to ask questions that it drafted on housing repairs in Parliament.  KLC did this in order to find out more about what is happening in this area, and to raise the profile of the issue in Parliament.  KLC continues to apply pressure and gather evidence through its casework, and has run a pop up legal clinic in one of its local housing estates focusing on housing repairs.

 

Further information: Anna Cody, Director, Kingsford Legal Centre, send her an email

 

 

4.         Case notes

 

Credit and debt complaint

 

Redfern Legal Centre’s client, Angela, migrated from Thailand to Australia with her husband Peter.  Angela had limited English skills and Peter had always managed their finances.  Peter become involved in an investment scheme and needed more money to invest further.  Peter arranged with a mortgage broker for Angela to re-mortgage the family home and take out a loan in her name only in order to fund his investment scheme.  Angela, whose English and experience of the Australian finance system was limited, knew little about the documents she signed and did not understand the financial arrangement that had taken place. At the age of 62, Angela was granted a 30-year loan for more than $700,000.  Theoretically, Angela would be paying off the loan (in monthly payments of more than $4,500) until she was 92 years old.  Angela was approved for a loan that she could not afford to pay.

 

From the beginning she had difficulty making the monthly repayments. When interest rates increased, she defaulted on the loan.  The bank foreclosed on the loan and the family home was sold.  Even so, there was a shortfall of more than $100,000.  Peter had put all the borrowed money into the investment scheme. The investment scheme was unsuccessful and all the money was lost.  Angela did not derive any financial benefit from the loan. Peter subsequently passed away.

 

When her financial counsellor referred Angela to RLC, she was a widow in her late sixties with no home, assets or savings.  Her only income was the aged pension and she was unable to make any payments towards the shortfall that was being sought by the credit service provider.  Although this would seem like a clear case of mal-administration, the Financial Ombudsman was unable to assist because when Angela first defaulted on the repayments, the credit service provider obtained orders for her to repay the loan.

 

RLC assisted Angela to write a complaint to the credit service provider and request that the debt be waived. RLC highlighted:

 

RLC managed to negotiate a successful outcome for Angela and the credit service provider agreed to stop pursuing her for the debt.

 

Further information: Sophie Farrell, Communications & Volunteer Manager, RLC, phone (02) 9698 7277 or send her an email

 

5.         Media mentions

 

Connecting with the community

 

RLC is featured on the new online tool, Community Connection, created by South Sydney Community Aid. You can watch interviews with RLC’s CEO, a credit and debt solicitor and two volunteer legal assistants.

 

This new project aims to centralise grass roots community centres on one website and make it easier for the community to access the array of services in Redfern, Waterloo and Alexandria.

 

Further information: Sophie Farrell, Communications & Volunteer Manager, RLC, phone (02) 9698 7277 or send her an email

 

 

6.         Publications

 

New publication on mining and CSG law

 

Environmental Defender’s Office NSW (EDO NSW) will soon be releasing its latest plain English guide to the law called ‘Mining Law in NSW: A guide for the community’.

 

With mining and coal seam gas (CSG) activities expanding rapidly throughout the State, and encroaching into areas that have traditionally been dominated by other industries, the community is in urgent need of reliable information on how mines and CSG developments are regulated.  This booklet therefore seeks to educate the community about the law and what rights and obligations they have under it.

 

This booklet will help the people of NSW to understand how to engage effectively with the various decision-making processes and empower them to use the law to the fullest extent possible to protect their interests and those of the environment.  The booklet has been funded by the NSW Government through the Environmental Trust.

 

To order free copies: phone EDO NSW on (02) 9262 6989 or send an email

 

It will also be available to download from the EDO NSW website: http://www.edo.org.au/edonsw/site/publications.php

 

Boxes are also available to groups and organisations who wish to distribute the booklet to their members.

 

 

Independent Social Security Handbook 7th edition

The Welfare Rights Centre Sydney has finalised its 7th edition of the Independent Social Security Handbook. The Handbook draws upon the casework experience of the specialist Centre and provides hundreds of case studies inspired by real life cases and Centrelink problems. Every year thousands of people contact the Welfare Rights Centre with queries or significant problems, particularly those with barriers to understanding and complying with their obligations to Centrelink such as those addressing issues with long term impact such as mental illness, drug and alcohol problems or domestic violence.

The Handbook is designed for community workers, counsellors and generalist solicitors who are helping people with a social security, family assistance or Centrelink problem. It provides advocates with many practical tools to help handle problems, and is written for advocates who have little or no previous knowledge in the area, or who have some experience, but are not experts.  With a unique “rights based” approach to social security law, the Handbook is an important counterbalance to the information provided about payments by the Department of Human Services, and an essential tool for anyone helping a client through the social security maze.

Further information: Katie Wrigley, Welfare Rights Centre, phone (02) 9211 5300 or send an email

Pre-order form available at: www.welfarerights.org.au

 

LawPrompt – a resource with lots of legal information!

 

The staff at LawAccess NSW use an online resource called LawPrompt to provide legal information to people who call them for legal assistance. This resource is now freely available to Community Legal Centres that are members of CLCNSW.

 

LawPrompt has legal information on approximately 40 topics across criminal, civil and family law.  There is information on credit and debt matters, care and protection, parenting, neighbour disputes, apprehended violence orders, termination of employment, fines and many more topics! Each topic has information divided into several sections such as jurisdiction, time limits, common terms, key referrals, fees, forms, costs, key issues and frequently asked questions.

 

LawPrompt also has information on legal issues covered in the media, as well as updates about legislative and policy changes.

 

CLC staff and volunteers can use LawPrompt to provide quick, up to date and plain language verbal information to your clients on various legal issues.  It is not, however, a public resource and cannot be printed, copied or distributed to clients.

 

Further information: Tina Higgins, Team Leader, Legal Resources, LawAccess NSW, phone (02) 8833 3113 or send an email

 

Research reveals Gays & Lesbians still experience severe discrimination and vilification

 

In June 2012, Tanya Plibersek, Minister for Health and Federal Member for Sydney, launched the Inner City Legal Centre (ICLC) report, Outing Injustice: Understanding the legal needs of LGBTI communities in NSW. The report was prepared by ICLC based on a survey of over 600 Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in New South Wales.

 

The report found that:

·      58.4% of respondents had experienced vilification from someone they did not know in a public place.

·      Over 10% had experienced physical violence.

·      Almost 24% had been discriminated against in a shop, restaurant or other venue.

 

When launching the report, Ms Plibersek said ‘LGBTI people have rights and it’s important that they know what they are in order to assert them’.

Ms Plibersek said, ‘we look forward to the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal discrimination laws’.  She went on to say that ‘the final step against discrimination is the introduction of Marriage equality for same-sex couples’.

 

Director of the ICLC, Daniel Stubbs, said ‘discrimination, harassment and vilification occurs against LGBTI people in regional and remote areas, as well as in Sydney - this research highlights the issues faced by the community and provides recommendations about steps we can take.’

Mr Stubbs also said, ‘there are a range of laws that have been brought in which benefit LGBTI people but many are isolated or simply not aware and so are not enjoying their rights.’ 

 

The report’s author, Alana Yap, said ‘the quality and outcomes of Outing Injustice is very much due to the support of LGBTI people and their organisations across NSW who responded to the survey and contributed to the research.’

 

Further information: Daniel Stubbs, Centre Manager, ICLC, phone (02) 9332 1966 or send an email

 

 

Economic Cost Benefit Analysis of CLCs Report
 

NACLC commissioned independent consultants Judith Stubbs & Associates to produce a report which looks at the economic cost benefit of CLCs to the community.


A major finding of the report was that on average, CLCs have a cost benefit ratio of 1:18; that is, for every dollar spent by government on funding CLCs, these services return a benefit to society that is 18 times that cost.  To express this in dollar terms, if the average held constant for CLCs across Australia, the $47.0 million spent on the program nationally in 2009/10 would yield around $846.0 million of benefit to Australia.

To download the full report and an executive summary:

http://www.naclc.org.au/cb_pages/reports_and_resources.php

 

 

Tenants’ Union publishes fourth edition of Tenants’ Rights Manual

The Tenants’ Union of NSW has published the fourth edition of the Tenants’ Rights Manual: A Practical Guide to Renting in NSW.

The Tenants’ Rights Manual answers questions such as: What can you do if your rent is going up? Who is responsible for what repairs? When can you be evicted? Where can you go if you have a problem with your landlord?

The manual is practical and easy to use. It explains tenants’ legal rights and obligations and how to resolve problems before they become major disputes. It includes 44 sample letters for tenants corresponding with landlords and real estate agents.

This edition has been updated for the changes to renting laws with the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, including new provisions about rent arrears, sales of premises, share housing and tenancy databases.

It has an expanded chapter on social housing ­– with information about eligibility, rent rebates and public housing policies – and a new chapter on marginal renting ­­– with information for boarders and lodgers on the new Australian Consumer Law.

The Tenants' Rights Manual will be launched by the Honourable Anthony Roberts, Minister for Fair Trading, on 15 October 2012.

It is available for purchase from Federation Press.

Further information: Julie Foreman, Executive Officer, Tenants’ Union of NSW, phone (02) 8117 3700, email julie_foreman@clc.net.au.

 

The Share Housing Survival Guide online

 

Redfern Legal Centre’s Inner Sydney Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service has launched the latest online edition of the Share Housing Survival Guide.  This fantastic new online resource tells you everything you need to know about living in a share house, from how to find a new flat mate, what to do when experiencing domestic violence, to what to do when you’re moving out.

 

Stay tuned for details of a formal launch of the new publication soon.

 

Further information: Sophie Farrell, Communications & Volunteer Manager, RLC, phone (02) 9698 7277 or send her an email

 

 

7.         Events, commendations and developments

 

Recognition of legal representation of young people

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has won a prestigious 2012 Children's Law Award. Sharing the award with partners Legal Aid NSW, Maurice Blackburn and PILCH NSW, PIAC's work was recognised for outstanding legal representation of the rights and interests of children and young people.

The award, presented by the National Children's and Youth Law Centre, recognises PIAC's crucial work in instigating and managing the Children in Detention Advocacy Project, and its on-going class action on behalf of young people unlawfully detained by NSW police on the basis of out-of-date bail information.

PIAC chief executive, Edward Santow, said he was honoured to receive this award on behalf of PIAC and its project partners.

'The award recognises a wonderful collaboration that also includes a number of commercial law firms, such as Allens, Lander & Rogers and Carroll & O'Dea. All have worked tirelessly to seek redress for the unlawful detention of children and young people.'

The award made special mention of a class action run by PIAC and law firm Maurice Blackburn, on behalf of Musa Konneh and other young people who claim to have been wrongly arrested and detained on the basis of out-of-date bail information.

‘It is fundamental to our justice system that the police rely on accurate information. But the police computer system has been unreliable for some time and vulnerable young people are paying the price,’ Mr Santow said.

 

Further information: Dominic O’Grady, Senior Media & Communications Adviser, PIAC, send an email

 

National CLCs Conference

The National CLCs Conference has concluded for another year.  By all accounts and from feedback received it went very well.  Thanks to all those who attended, supported and presented.

 

To download the papers that have been approved for distribution, visit:

http://www.naclc.org.au/cb_pages/2012_conference_papers.php

 

Plans are underway to secure a venue and lock in dates for 2013. Unfortunately due to a number of factors the Conference is unable to be held in Canberra next year.  The Conference will be held in either August or September. Once details are confirmed an announcement will be made.

 

Further information: Te Raehira Wihapi, Communications Manager, NACLC, phone (02) 9264 9595, send an email

 

 

Australian Government NGO Forum on Human Rights

 

KLC Director Anna Cody represented NACLC at the Australian Government NGO Forum on Human Rights. Issues discussed included the government’s discrimination consolidation project and government’s engagement with NGOs in UN human rights review processes.  Anna also met informally with the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights to raise some of our concerns and priorities.

 

Further information: Anna Cody, Director, Kingsford Legal Centre, send her an email

 

8.         State Office Update

 

 

Aboriginal Legal Access Program (ALAP)

Justice Reinvestment Campaign

CLCNSW ALAP Community Development Worker has contributed to the policy presentation for the Justice Reinvestment Campaign for Aboriginal Young People.  This required case study research on Justice Reinvestment initiatives in Texas, Oregon and Washington, analysis of Juvenile Justice and Department of Community Services statistics, and developing strategies for a Justice Reinvestment program on a hypothetical NSW community.  Melanie Swartz delivered the policy presentation to the Board of the Aboriginal Legal Services NSW/ACT and various stakeholders, in preparation for a presentation to government on 17 October. On Tuedsay the 26th of September, the ALAP CDW represented CLCNSW at the 'Reducing Indigenous Incarceration' conference held in Sydney. He spoke on barriers to justice reinvestment.

 

CLCNSW Statement of Commitment to Reconciliation Action Plan

Following CLCNSWs' 'Statement of Commitment to Develop A Reconciliation Action Plan By 01/03/13, the 6th draft of the RAP, which has been heavily consulted on, was submitted for comment to Reconciliation Australia. Reconciliation Australia has provided feedback and the document is undergoing further CLC consultation.

 

Stronger Futures

The CLCNSW statement on the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bills has been extensively consulted on and is now finished.  The statement will be posted on the CLCNSW website in the coming days.

 

ALAP promotional materials

ALAP has developed promotional materials, which are ideal for local Aboriginal community events.  These materials include stress footballs and pens.  They have proven to be a big hit, particularly with young Aboriginal people, with demand often exceeding supply.

 

Further information: CLCNSW, ALAP Community Development Worker, CLCNSW, phone (02) 9212 7333 or send an email

 

Justice Reinvestment Campaign

ALAP Community Development Worker Zac Armytage has contributed to the policy presentation for the Justice Reinvestment Campaign for Aboriginal Young People.  This required case study research on Justice Reinvestment initiatives in Texas, Oregon and Washington, analysis of juvenile justice and Department of Community Services statistics, and developing strategies for a Justice Reinvestment program on a hypothetical NSW community.  Melanie Swartz delivered the policy presentation to the Board of the Aboriginal Legal Services NSW/ACT and various stakeholders, in preparation for a presentation to government on 17 October.

 

Stronger Futures

The CLCNSW statement on the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bills has been extensively consulted on and is now finished.  The statement will be posted on the CLCNSW website in the coming days.

 

ALAP promotional materials

ALAP has developed promotional materials, which are ideal for local Aboriginal community events.  These materials include stress footballs and pens.  They have proven to be a big hit, particularly with young Aboriginal people, with demand often exceeding supply.

 

Further information: Zachary Armytage, ALAP Community Development Worker, CLCNSW, phone (02) 9212 7333 or send an email

 

 

Accreditation Scheme

 

Good progress continues to be made with the National Accreditation Scheme in NSW.  Since the last On the Record update 15 centres have completed their online self-assessment and have undergone a Site Visit by Regional Accreditation Coordinator (RAC) Meg Houston, who is based at CLCNSW.

 

Feedback from centres on the Scheme and the online resources has been positive overall and centres find the Management Support Online template policies and procedures very useful.

 

4 Site Visits are so far booked for October and November and the RAC is liaising with 5 other centres to finalise dates for their Site Visit.  The RAC will be working closely over the next few weeks with the remaining 12 centres, to support them in completing the self-assessment process and to book their Site Visit date.

 

After the Site Visit the RAC prepares an External Assessment Report for each centre and liaises with them to develop a Workplan.  Recent improvements to the online SPP (Standards and Performance Pathway) system have supported this process.

 

CLCNSW is now ready to move onto the Certification stage for the centres which were early engagers with the Scheme.  Certification paperwork has been finalised and internal processes developed. 

 

Further information: Meg Houston, Regional Accreditation Coordinator, CLCNSW, phone (02) 9212 7333 or send an email

 

 

Sector Development

 

Leadership Development Project

The CLCNSW Leadership Development Program, which was flagged in the April 2012 edition of On The Record, has now started, with 14 participants from CLCs around the state.  Developed in conjunction with SAL Consulting, the program consists of a series of 1-day workshops over 14 months, scheduled to coincide with the CLCNSW Quarterlies, with participants receiving 1-to-1 coaching or mentoring, depending on their needs, between workshops.  Intended to assist CLC staff to develop and practice their leadership and management skills, the program should also promote staff retention and succession planning strategies across the sector, and help to strengthen the work of the sector in supporting better outcomes for clients.

 

Mentoring Project

Following a small trial of the Mentoring program in the early part of 2012, the CLCNSW Sector Development Program has launched a larger pilot to run during the financial year 2012/13.  Mentoring is seen as a workforce planning strategy to improve recruitment and retention of CLC staff, and assist those being mentored to better manage their roles, including their own resilience.  The project will have a particular focus on RRR CLCs, given the professional and personal isolation that many RRR staff experience.  Feedback from the trial partnerships has helped to identify what resources will assist the parties to the pilot, which will start in the final quarter of 2012.

 

The pilot will have around half a dozen pairs (including the two involved in the trial) and will be supported from existing Sector Development Program resources.  While individual mentoring partnerships will be allowed to develop a relationship which best suits their needs, they will be supported by resources such as a mentoring agreement and mentoring plan templates, and guidelines.

 

Practice Management Course

The CLCNSW Sector Development Program has again collaborated with the College of Law to conduct a Practice Management Course tailored to lawyers in the community legal sector.  Completion of the 3-day course is a requirement of the Law Society of NSW for solicitors who wish to act (or act up) as a principal and / or solicitor on the record for a community legal centre. As the Law Society’s Guidelines for the course (which date from 1993) have a private practice emphasis (referring to sole practitioners and partners) the content of the course is tailored to cover areas such as strategic management, governance, accounting, financial, risk and people management, clients, and ethics and professional responsibility from a CLC perspective, with presenters who have experience in the sector.  In September 2012 there were 18 participants, and as in 2010 and 2011, the course received very positive evaluations.

 

 

Further information: Contact CLCNSW clcnsw@clc.net.au or 9212 7333.

 

9.         What are Community Legal Centres and what is CLCNSW?

Community Legal Centres (CLCs) are independent community organisations providing equitable and accessible legal services. NSW CLCs work for the public interest, particularly for disadvantaged and marginalised people and communities.  CLCs 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.

 

Community Legal Centres NSW Inc. (CLCNSW) is the peak body for CLCs in NSW.  It is resourced by a small State Office which is funded by the NSW Government and Public Purpose Fund.  CLCNSW has 40 member organisations including generalist and specialist community legal centres.

 

Further information:

Suite 805, Level 8

28 Foveaux Street

Surry Hills NSW 2010

Phone: (02) 9212 7333

Fax: (02) 9212 7332

Send an email

Website: www.clcnsw.org.au

 

On The Record

On the Record #15 June 2011
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On the Record #27 Winter 2014
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On The Record - Issue 19 - June 2012
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On The Record - Issue 20 - September 2012
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On the Record - Issue 22 - March 2013
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On the Record - Issue 23 - June 2013
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On the Record - Issue 24 - September 2013
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On the Record - issue 25 - December 2013 / January 2014
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #10 April 2010
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #11 June 2010
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #12 September 2010
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #13 December 2010
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #14 March 2011
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #2 October 2006
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #26 Autumn 2014
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #3 March 2007
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #4 June 2007
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #5 September 2007
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #6 March 2008
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #7 June 2008
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #8 March 2009
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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #9 May 2009
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On the Record E-Bulletin Issue #16 October 2011
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On the Record e-bulletin Issue #17 December 2011
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On The Record e-bulletin Issue# 21 December 2012
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OTR Issue 18 April 2012
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