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On the Record - The e-bulletin Issue #16 October 2011


On the Record – The e-bulletin


Community Legal Centres: Community, Compassion, Justice
Issue #16

October 2011

This is the sixteenth edition of On the Record, the quarterly e-bulletin of Community Legal Centres NSW Inc. (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

CEO departs Legal Aid NSW

Attorney General appoints acting CEO of Legal Aid NSW

Review of legal assistance services

Update: the National Accreditation Scheme

2. Community Law

Educating Aboriginal communities on the South Coast

Mogo Wills Day

RLC works with Diverse Communities on Credit & Debt

Clayton Utz Power of Attorney Clinic

Student Connect project

3. Human Rights in action

More Clients for the South East NSW Women’s Legal Service

Consolidation of Anti-Discrimination Laws

Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal people

Marginal renters law reform campaign

Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution in Western Sydney

Bush Band Arts Law

Immigration Advice & Rights Centre & WDVCAS

New Scheme for Representation in Unfair Dismissal Conciliations

Police Complaints Survey for lawyers and community workers

 

4. Case reports

Members of local Aboriginal Land Councils found to have control over their tenancies

Macquarie LC assists a family to resolve its issues

RLC Assists Catherine Smith - Early Response Could Have Prevented 30 Years of Trauma

5. Media mentions

Remember the Sydney Riots?

Move on Powers Extended

Follow RLC on Twitter

Follow the Tenants’ Union on Twitter

6. Publications

New Tenants Rights Factsheets

New resources on fines available on LawAssist

Family Safety in Auslan – Domestic Violence

Social Justice Opportunities - A Guide for Law Students and New Lawyers

Legal Information for New Arrivals

Legal Aid NSW launches new website

New Artists in the Black website

Boarders & Lodgers Legal Kit Launched

7. Events, commendations and developments

Introducing the Australian Centre for Disability Law Inc

KLC Celebrates 30 years

Hume Riverina CLS enters second year of partnership with Charles Darwin University

Seminar: Protecting the Rights of Older People

Transforming Legal Education – Australian National Conference on Clinical and Experiential Learning

Trivia Challenge!

New faces at Hunter CLC

Community education training

Supporting women with complex needs – invitation to consultation

KLC solicitor wins Women Lawyers Association award

8. State Office Update

New-look State Office Update

Aboriginal Legal Access Program (ALAP)


Concerns about access to justice at the MRT remain unresolved

Practice Management Course

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


1.    Community Legal Sector News

CEO departs Legal Aid NSW

Alan Kirkland has resigned from his position as Chief Executive Officer at Legal Aid NSW, with his last day there Friday 16 September 2011.

CLCNSW would like to acknowledge Alan’s considerable and long-reaching achievements during his three years with Legal Aid, noting in particular his commitment to community legal centres in NSW.  Whilst at Legal Aid, Alan was responsible for its operational budget increasing by 17%, as part of the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services.  Earlier this year, Alan was appointed chair of the National Legal Assistance Advisory Body, which was convened to advise the Commonwealth Attorney-General on issues affecting the legal assistance system.

Alan was a passionate advocate for the important role of CLCs and CLCNSW.  His significant achievements for the CLC sector include the Legal Aid/CLC partnerships program, unique amongst States and Territories in Australia, and access to the Legal Aid NSW Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for CLC staff and volunteers.  CLCNSW also acknowledges the successful role Alan played as chairperson of the NSW Legal Assistance Forum (NLAF).  Alan was key in bringing together organisations within NLAF to work successfully on common issues, including access to legal information for prisoners and CALD communities.

On behalf of the CLCNSW Board, staff and member CLCs, we sincerely thank Alan for his wonderful contributions and commitment to public legal services, including CLCs.  We wish him the very best for his future.

 

 Attorney General appoints acting CEO of Legal Aid NSW

Following Alan Kirkland’s departure and a call for expressions of interest, the NSW Attorney General has appointed Richard Funston as the Acting Chief Executive of Legal Aid NSW.  Richard will act in the role during the period of time that the Minister requires to appoint a new Chief Executive.

For the last 24 years Richard has worked as a solicitor and manager of legal services in both Victoria and NSW.  From admission in 1987 until 2000 he appeared as an advocate in the Magistrates and Children’s Courts in Victoria and NSW.  Richard was the Principal Solicitor of the Inner City Legal Centre from 1993 to 1997 and from 1997 to 2001 he was the solicitor in charge of the Children’s Legal Service, Legal Aid NSW.  He has been a member of the executive team of Legal Aid NSW since 2001 and in early 2011 was appointed Executive Director Legal Services, Grants and Community Partnerships.

On commencing his acting role, Richard stated that he is “a supporter of CLCs, understanding their needs and has a close connection with the CLC movement”.  Richard is a member of the CLC sub-committee of the Legal Aid NSW Board and has managed the areas at Legal Aid NSW responsible for CLCs.

In 2006 he completed the Executive Master of Public Administration with the Australian and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).  Whilst at ANZSOG he was awarded the Urbis Keys Young Prize for academic achievement.  Richard is a Law Society of NSW accredited specialist in criminal law.

CLCNSW welcomes Richard to this acting role and looks forward to working with him on CLC and wider public legal assistance service issues.

Review of legal assistance services

In August, the NSW Attorney General, Mr Greg Smith SC MP, announced a review of the delivery of legal assistance services to the NSW community.  This review, conducted by the Department of Attorney General and Justice, will consider whether there is evidence of unmet legal needs in the community, particularly in rural and regional areas and for vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, and whether current legal assistance services adequately meet these needs.  The review will look at the role of government, non-government and private sectors, with a particular focus on the delivery of assistance by Court Services, Legal Aid NSW and LawAccess NSW.  The review is being undertaken with the view to making recommendations to address any gaps identified in the delivery legal assistance services and on any other measures aimed at improving such delivery of these services, noting that the Government can do in a sustainable budgetary position.

Anna Cody, chairperson of CLCNSW, is a member of the consultative committee which has been established to facilitate stakeholder input for the review.  The first meeting of the committee was held earlier this month, with another meeting scheduled for later this year.  CLCNSW will keep member CLCs informed of progress of this review.

Further information: Alastair McEwin, CLCNSW, phone (02) 9212 7333 or email

 

Update: the National Accreditation Scheme

The National Accreditation Scheme is moving on to the next stage.  The first accreditation visits have been made for a small number of CLCs in the ACT.  These centres had been very active over the last few months completing the self-assessment on the SPP and attaching evidence. Once they were ready, the National Accreditation Coordinator (NAC) conducted a desktop audit of all the information submitted, and visited the service to validate the evidence provided and to collect further information in relation to the standards.  The day included a site tour, interviews with Executive Officer and/or Principal Solicitor, staff and clients and concluded with an exit interview.

The accreditation visit gives the reviewer insight into the areas where the centre has efficient systems that are supported by guiding documents and actioned on a daily basis.  It also provides an opportunity to highlight some areas that would benefit from further development.  These areas are organised into a work plan of improvements that are to be made over the course of the accreditation cycle. The centre and the reviewer prioritise parts of the work plan for the centre to improve on over the next few months.

In NSW, CLCs responded well to the SPP and Management Support Online (MSO) information session at the August Quarterlies.  Subsequent to that, Lis Maier, NAC, has been contacted on numerous occasions with service specific questions. This indicates that centres have started with the self-assessment process and are engaging in the scheme.  Common feedback shows that it gets easier as the CLC become more familiar with the SPP, with the best approach being to work on the self-assessment in block times with minimal disruption if possible.

Whilst most NSW centres have registered for the MSO, some still haven’t taken up this support.  If you are unsure about your own centre, please contact the NAC to clarify whether your centre has already been registered. 

NACLC and CLCNSW congratulate the early adopters for their achievements.  For NSW CLCs, the most recent development is that the recruitment process for a Regional Accreditation Coordinator is under way.  This position will provide accreditation support to all NSW CLCs and the person will conduct accreditation reviews in NSW.  The successful applicant will contact all NSW CLCs in due course.

Further information: Email Lis Maier, National Accreditation Coordinator

 

2.    Community law

Educating Aboriginal communities on the South Coast

Shoalcoast CLC ran two community legal education seminars in August 2011 as part of its Aboriginal Legal Access service.  The first CLE concerned employment rights and responsibilities seminar as well as a general criminal law seminar with the Indigenous Employability Certificate program being run through Essential Personnel Bomaderry NSW.  The second CLE was delivered to an Indigenous Girls Camp in Broulee being run by the Police.  The CLE covered Rights at school, Sexual rights and legalities and Domestic Violence.  All seminars were well received and hopefully will become part of Shoalcoast CLC’s regular CLE programming for the future.

Further information: email Barry Penfold, Shoalcoast CLC

Mogo Wills Day

At the invitation of the Moruya Aboriginal Legal Service, Shoalcoast CLC, in conjunction with Legal Aid NSW (Nowra Office) and Blake Dawson, conducted a CLE on Wills, Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship at the Boomerang Centre in Mogo.  Anne Cregan, National Pro Bono Manager for Blake Dawson, delivered the bulk of the CLE and was assisted in question time by other solicitors who were present.  A light lunch was provided after the CLE and instructions were obtained from 20 individuals and 39 documents prepared for signature.  All in all a great day and excellent effort by all. This was a very good example of the power of good Pro Bono connections.

Further information: email Barry Penfold, Shoalcoast CLC

 

RLC works with Diverse Communities on Credit & Debt

RLC continues its project of reaching out to culturally and linguistically diverse communities to address unmet legal need in relation to credit and debt.  A core part of this project is the provision of community legal education sessions to community organisations and their client groups from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Sessions can be formal, informal, brief or detailed according to the needs of the group. Recent events have ranged from speaking to parents over toys at playgroups to a formal presentation to Spanish-speaking international students and strategic meetings with managers of community organisations.

To organise a session for your group: Contact Elizabeth Morley on (02) 9698 7277 or email

 

Clayton Utz Power of Attorney Clinic

KLC is very grateful to Clayton Utz for their partnership in its newest pro bono clinic to provide free legal advice on power of attorney and guardianship law to its local community.  This Clinic commenced on 13 May 2011 after KLC staff developed training materials and spent a morning training Clayton Utz solicitors.  The Clinic runs fortnightly and has 3 appointments if they are at the Centre. The Clinic is also able to see clients in nursing homes, hospital or in home visits.

Further information: email Anna Cody, Director KLC

 

Student Connect project

In 2010 South West Sydney Legal Centre (SWSLC) secured funding from the Office for Women’s Policy, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, for a project to deliver legal seminars to UWS law undergraduates for 2011 and 2012.  The Student Connect project comprises a series of curriculum-based seminars (64 in total) and local court field days (80 in total) directed at UWS Law undergraduates (approximately1200 over 2011 and 2012. Another component of the project is the preparation of notes for inclusion in the UWS Student Learning Guide.

The aim of Student Connect is to raise awareness and understanding of the problem, dynamics, sociology and impact of domestic and family violence and familiarity with the relevant legislation.  It also aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills to assist women experiencing family or domestic violence.

The first seminar series was delivered in August 2011 to coincide with the University’s criminal law semester.  Seminars comprise two sections. The first section focuses on the sociology and impact of domestic and family violence. The second utilises a detailed case study to clarify and reinforce student’s understanding of the Learning Guide notes whilst offering an opportunity for them to apply the legislation to a real case scenario in an interactive and inclusive learning environment.

The seminars were very well received, generating a great deal of student engagement, interaction and debate.  Feedback from UWS lecturers and course Coordinators was also excellent.

Students who attended the seminars are now in the process of attending local court field days on rostered ADVO days.  These are designed for students to gain further insights into the practice and procedure of the legislative framework and women’s experiences engaging with the legal system. Students are required to compile a field day report, which is assessable.

A pre and post evaluation tool was designed in conjunction with UWS. The tool assesses attitudes and beliefs about domestic and family violence as well as legal awareness.

SWSLC hopes to utilise project outcomes to push for formal inclusion of the seminars in University curriculums.  SWSLC sincerely thanks Women’s Legal Service NSW, Macarthur Legal Centre and Nanette Reuben who assisted with the final draft of the Student Learning Guide notes and delivery of the seminar sessions.  SWSLC also thanks Eric Hudson who assisted with compilation of the sociological elements of the project.

SWSLC is the process of collating and deciphering the evaluation tool feedback and looks forward to reporting on Student Connect further.

Further information: email Peter Multari, SWSLC

 

3.    Human Rights in action

More Clients for the South East NSW Women’s Legal Service

Some seven months have passed since the introduction of the Shoalcoast LC’s South East NSW Women’s Legal Service, funded through the Rural Women’s Outreach Project (RWOP).  The service is based in Nowra and operates outreach clinics for women who reside in the Queanbeyan, Palerang, Cooma-Monaro, Bombala and Bega Valley Council areas.  The outreach takes place in the third week of the month and has established outreach clinics in Braidwood (Monday), Cooma (Tuesday and Wednesday), Bega (Thursday) and Wallaga Lake (Friday).  All centres are experiencing increasing attendance rates and the phone advice frequency from the area has also increased.  The clients from the SE NSW now make up 5% of the Centre’s total client base.  This will no doubt increase over the next twelve months as will the demand for CLE presentations. The lack of alternative legal services in the Cooma and Braidwood regions is of particular concern and these two regions will provide the focus for further submissions to both Federal and State governments to increase the funding to allow for the provision of such services.  Some relief has already been forthcoming through Legal Aid NSW commencing their outreach legal assistance at Cooma.

Further information: email Barry Penfold, Shoalcoast CLC

 

Consolidation of Anti-Discrimination Laws

KLC helped finalise two submissions to the Attorney General’s Department on behalf of NACLC in relation to the Consolidation of Anti-Discrimination Law.  This work was extremely time consuming, but resulted in a unified position across CLCs on what any new Equality Act should contain.  Anna Cody and Emma Golledge from Kingsford Legal Centre and Joanna Shulman from Redfern Legal Centre, all representing NACLC, met with the Attorney General’s Department regarding the Anti-Discrimination Law Consolidation.  It is anticipated that KLC will continue to lead on this major law reform issue for most of this year with an exposure Bill due sometime this year.

Further information: email Anna Cody, Director KLC

 

Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal people

KLC continues to work with its local Aboriginal community on the issue of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal people.  In August KLC held an information forum for its local community at Yarra Bay.  The questionnaires received by KLC from members of the community at the Yabun 2011 stall in January have been forwarded to the Australian Government’s Expert Panel on Aboriginal Recognition in the Constitution.

Further information: email Ron Timbery, KLC

Marginal renters law reform campaign

The Tenants’ Union continues to campaign for legal protection for marginal renters such as people living in boarding houses, student accommodation, crisis accommodation and share-housing arrangements. People living in these circumstances are currently excluded from residential tenancies legislation.

Large charities such as St Vincent de Paul, Wesley Mission and UnitingCare are supporting the campaign.  This is particularly important as they run crisis accommodation centres.

Clover Moore MP has introduced a private member’s bill on occupancy agreements for marginal renters into the NSW Parliament.

Further information: email Julie Foreman, TU

 

Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution in Western Sydney

Macquarie Legal Centre is an integral part of the Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution (CFDR) pilot project funded by the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department and based in Western Sydney.  The pilot project works with families post separation, where domestic violence has been, or continues to be, a factor in the relationship and acts as an alternative to Court for these families.  The aim of CFDR is to provide supported and legally assisted family dispute resolution to the parents to enable them to develop safe and appropriate arrangements for their children.  By providing coordinated assistance to people participating in the program, CFDR hopes to empower victims to obtain positive outcomes for themselves and their children.

Macquarie Legal Centre provides legal assistance and women’s consultants and works in conjunction with Unifam Counseling and Mediation in Parramatta.

Further information: email Katy Jenkins, Macquarie LC

 

Bush Band Arts Law

If you don't understand what it means, don't sign it! How often do legal advisers give that advice? How often do lawyers wish clients had followed that advice before plunging headlong into a contractual relationship that ended in tears?  It's a simple but important message and it was the focus of the workshops delivered by the Arts Law Centre of Australia at the 2011 Bush Bands Business conference held at Ross River south of Alice Springs in September.

Bush Bands Business is held annually as part of the Alice Springs Desert Festival.  It's a 3-day intensive mentoring and professional development program for six emerging Indigenous bands from desert communities in Central Australia which culminates in the Bush Bands Bash concert staged in Alice Springs during the Festival.

Arts Law, together with mentors from the national music industry, worked with Narbelek (Arnhem Land), Tableland Drifters (Barkly Region), Sunshine Reggae Band (Western Desert), Blackstone (NG Lands), South East Desert Metal (Arrernte) and Yatulu Yatulu (Warlpiri).  In addition to basic contract law, the Arts Law workshops covered music copyright fundamentals.

The workshops were part of Arts Law's Musicians in the Black program, which is generously funded by the Sidney Myer Foundation, APRA and PPCA and is specifically developed and geared toward Indigenous musicians.  It is designed around a workshop program and includes the development of online information sheets and resources.  The workshops are designed to be inclusive and participatory, introducing musicians to some of the legal issues relevant to their creative activities, and helping them to understand their rights. Such issues include music copyright, being in a band, public performances, traditional cultural issues, making recordings and dealing with third parties such as managers, venue operators and recording studios.  As many of the participants have limited English literacy skills, the workshops use stories, case studies and visual images rather than text.

Further information: Delwyn Everard, Arts Law Centre of Australia, phone (02) 9356 2566 or email

Immigration Advice & Rights Centre & WDVCAS

The Immigration Advice & Rights Centre (IARC) will be offering a drop in service for women accessing the WDVCAS services at the Downing Centre.  Commencing on Wednesday 5 October, women who access WDVCAS services will be referred to IARC for legal advice regarding immigration matters.

Women or men who experience domestic violence whilst in Australia on certain temporary visas may be eligible to apply for a permanent visa based on violence perpetrated by their spouse. The criteria that is applied to those claiming a visa on these grounds are stringent and complex. For this reason IARC offers comprehensive advice to persons experiencing domestic violence to ensure they understand their rights and obligations under migration legislation.

If you have a client who requires urgent assistance and is the victim of domestic violence or would like more information about the new drop in service, contact IARC: Andrea Christie-David, phone (02) 9279 4300 or email

 

New Scheme for Representation in Unfair Dismissal Conciliations

Redfern Legal Centre has begun a scheme in partnership with Clayton Utz to represent clients at unfair dismissal conciliation conferences. Approximately 80% of unfair dismissal applications resolve at conciliation, and until now RLC has had extremely limited resources to provide representation to clients with unfair dismissal matters.

The new scheme allows for clients who attend RLC’s Tuesday night employment clinic to be offered representation in their conciliation.  A client will be paired up with a solicitor from Clayton Utz seconded to RLC for the length of the matter.  The seconded solicitor then provides detailed advice and advocacy during the conciliation, which is conducted over the phone.

This new scheme will improve RLC clients’ experiences of unfair dismissal conciliations and lead to better outcomes.  RLC anticipates that the scheme will reduce the average time taken for conciliations, which may lead to a systemic improvement in Fair Work Australia conciliations generally.

Further information: Joanna Shulman, RLC, phone 9698 5975 or email

 

 

Police Complaints Survey for lawyers and community workers

Community Legal Centres NSW, in conjunction with Professor Jane Goodman-Delahunty at Charles Sturt University, is conducting a confidential online survey on perceptions and experiences of the police complaints system in NSW.

The survey aims to address the lack of publicly available data on this issue in NSW, as well as to inform improvements to the current system. The survey is open to client advocates in the community and social sector (e.g. welfare workers, youth workers), as well as lawyers. You do not have to be familiar with the police complaints system to contribute to the survey, as we are interested in general perceptions as well.

The survey will take 10-20 minutes.

To find out more, and to participate in the survey, go to: http://www.csu.edu.au/faculty/arts/agsp/research/complaints-survey/

 In 2012, a separate survey is likely to be conducted, looking at young peoples’ experiences with police and complaint mechanisms.

Further information about the wider CLCNSW police complaint project: email Roxana Zulfacar, Advocacy & Human Rights Officer, CLCNSW

 

4.    Case reports

 

Members of local Aboriginal Land Councils found to have control over their tenancies

The Tenants’ Union acted for two tenants who were each given a termination notice by their landlord, a local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC). The case centred on the provisions in the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, which requires a LALC to pass a resolution of the voting members concerning any “dealing with land”.

The Land and Environment Court held that the function of terminating a residential tenancy agreement is ‘a dealing with land’.  As such, a LALC may only take steps to terminate a tenancy if that course is approved by the voting membership of the council. This decision cannot be delegated to internal or external management.

The judgement was reported in the Local Government and Environmental Reports of Australia.  It has been used successfully by tenant advocates to save their clients’ tenancies. It is currently subject to appeal and may lead to amendment of Aboriginal land rights legislation.

Further information about the case and its effect: email Carl Freer

 

Macquarie LC assists a family to resolve its issues

Sue and Ben had been together for ten years and have three children together.  In the last few years, before they separated, Ben had become physically and verbally abusive towards Sue.  Sue had an ADVO taken out against Ben but the abuse continued and she was worried that Ben would take the children without her consent.  The children were becoming increasingly stressed and scared of the situation between their parents.  Sue approached the Unifam Centre for support and advice about the arrangements for the children.  Unifam assessed Sue and Ben’s case as potentially appropriate for Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution (CFDR). 

To begin with, Sue met with the women’s consultant and explained her concerns.  Sue said she is no longer physically afraid of Ben but is afraid of his erratic and unpredictable behaviour. The children spoke with the Child consultants and expressed the stress and fears they were feeling.  The children’s concerns were explained to the parents and for the first time the father began to understand that his behavior was affecting his children.  Both parties received legal advice and safety concerns for Sue were discussed. Ben saw a male consultant to discuss the impact of his abuse and harassment on Sue and the children.

When mediation took place the parents were able to come to agreements about how to communicate respectfully and when the children were to spend time with the father.  Sue and Ben participated in two more mediation sessions.  The women’s consultant made a follow up call after the mediation and Sue told her the children seemed less stressed and things were starting to improve.

For more information about CFDR: email Samiha Alameddine or Katy Jenkins, Macquarie LC, or phone 02 8833 0911.

 

RLC Assists Catherine Smith - Early Response Could Have Prevented 30 Years of Trauma

The Sydney Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (SWDVCAS) has been working with Catherine Smith, a victim of horrendous domestic violence perpetrated (over a period of 30 years) by her husband, Kevin Smith. Catherine reported the violence to central western NSW police on at least 18 occasions, with little or no action ever being taken.

When Catherine’s six children had finally all left home or were at boarding school she escaped the family farm for the last time, but in the years to come her husband continued to stalk her. In 2002 he kidnapped her son and his partner at gunpoint and forced them to reveal where Catherine was living. Smith was arrested when he was on his way to find Catherine with a gun, an electric cattle prod, gaffer tape, handcuffs and his handwritten will in the boot of his car.

He was sent to Goulburn jail and on one occasion escaped for several days. When Smith was released from jail, in the belief that no one could or would protect her children and herself, Catherine bought a gun and went to the boarding house where he was living in an attempt to shoot him.

Catherine was arrested and charged with attempted murder, but at her trial it took the jury only 25 minutes to find her not guilty. The trial judge ordered that police investigate charges against Smith for the years of abuse. These charges went to court in July and Kevin Smith was found guilty of 17 of the 20 charges, including three counts of attempted murder and charges of sexual assault. Smith is yet to be sentenced.

For information on Catherine Smith’s story see: http://www.abc.net.au/austory/specials/tildeath/default.htm

Further information: call Susan Smith on 0447 174 698.

 

5.    Media mentions

 

Remember the Sydney Riots?

RLC police powers lawyer, David Porter, on over-policing as a contributing factor in tension between disaffected youth and police forces.

Link: http://newmatilda.com/2011/08/12/remember-sydney-riots

 

Move on Powers Extended

RLC police powers lawyer, David Porter, says extended police powers to order drunk people to ‘move on’ are an unnecessary extension and fail to address the causes of alcohol related violence.

Link: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/greater-police-powers-unfair-to-ill-homeless-20110519-1ev21.html

 

Follow RLC on Twitter

Link: www.twitter.com/RLC_CEO

Follow the Tenants’ Union on Twitter

Link: http://twitter.com/#!/tunsw

 

6.    Publications

 

New Tenants Rights Factsheets

The Tenants’ Union has published four new Tenants Rights Factsheets. They cover the following topics: mould in rented premises, utilities, goods left behind, and asbestos and lead in rented premises. These are in addition to the 22 factsheets published for the new Residential Tenancies Act 2010.

The factsheets are available on the Tenants NSW website at: www.tenants.org.au/publish/factsheets.

 

New resources on fines available on LawAssist

Resources for people involved in fines matters have been added to the LawAssist website. There is information about the options available when a person receives a fine, including information about how to ask for a review and payment options. The site also provides information for people who have elected to challenge their fine in court and information about driver’s licence suspensions. The site has step-by-step guides to preparing for hearings and appearing in court. There are also sample forms and instructions for preparing submissions and character references.

LawAssist is a website developed by LawAccess NSW.  You can view the new fines materials at: http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/Lawlink/lawaccess/ll_lawassist.nsf/pages/lawassist_fines

Further information or to provide feedback about the site: email Rita Bhattacharya or phone (02) 8833 3104.

 

Family Safety in Auslan – Domestic Violence

Women’s Legal Services NSW worked closely with the Deaf Society of NSW as legal and advisory consultants for the Deaf Society’s web-based video on family and domestic violence. The videos provide information about domestic violence and an awareness of support services for members of the deaf community who use Auslan.

WLS met with the project coordinator and translator from the Deaf Society several times during the project between December 2010 and June 2011. We reviewed the scripts and pilot clips and provided feedback on the law and domestic violence generally.

Solicitors from WLS learnt a lot from participating in this project including an awareness of different types of domestic violence.  For example, verbal abuse in the deaf community can take different forms such as making strong signs when angry or signing very close to someone, or hearing people isolating a deaf partner by preventing access to deaf culture.

The web-based video consists of nine separate clips with narration and scenarios acted out on different topics related to domestic violence. The clips are in Auslan with the script written below.

The video is on the Deaf Society’s website at: http://www.deafsocietynsw.org.au/domestic_violence

It is also linked through the WLS website at: http://www.womenslegalnsw.asn.au/useful-websites/index.html#DomesticViolence.

For further information on WLS’ involvement in this project: email Natalie Neumann, CLE Coordinator, or phone (02) 8745 6900.

 

Social Justice Opportunities - A Guide for Law Students and New Lawyers

The National Pro Bono Resource Centre has just launched Social Justice Opportunities - A Guide for Law Students and New Lawyers and an accompanying new SJ Opps website at www.sjopps.net.au.  They were launched at the recent National Australian Law Students Association (ALSA) conference held at UNSW and by Weller Zheng from ALSA and Geoffrey Robertson Q.C. at his address on ‘The International Justice Game’.

It is proposed that 10,000 copies of the Guide will be distributed through law career fairs and law student associations for the next three years and the information on the SJ Opps website be kept up to date on an ongoing basis.  The National Pro Bono Resource Centre welcomes suggestions from all CLCs for additional content or links on the website and encourages each CLC to put a link on their website to the SJ Opps website, with the following logo:

Further information: email The National Pro Bono Resource Centre

Legal Information for New Arrivals

NLAF has developed an online catalogue that lists legal resources targeted at newly arrived migrants and refugees.  Topics covered include: languages in which the resource is available, the intended audience for the resource, the name of the agency / organisation that produced the resource, links to websites where it is possible to download or access an electronic copy of the resource, and information about the stage in the settlement process when it may be appropriate to access the resource.

Accompanying the catalogue is a flowchart that maps the settlement process in Australia.  The flowchart can be used to identify relevant stakeholders and opportunities for community legal education.

It is envisaged that the catalogue can be used in a number of ways including: by migrant support workers / settlement workers / community workers to identify resources that may be appropriate to provide to clients; and as a strategic tool in order to map existing resources and highlight gaps in the provision of information or lack of appropriate resources. 

NLAF has developed the catalogue in consultation with the Department of Attorney General Justice, Law and Justice Foundation, Legal Aid NSW, PIAC, LawAccess NSW, IARC, RACS and DIAC.

The catalogue and flowchart are available at www.nlaf.org.au/reports/new_arrivals.html

Further information: email Judith Levitan, NLAF Project Manager, phone (02) 8227 3221

Legal Aid NSW launches new website

Legal Aid NSW has a brand new website which has been rebuilt from the ground up. A strong emphasis has been placed on accessibility, particularly around the use of plain English.

It is easy to navigate and provides clear pathways for the public who need legal help, for lawyers and for people who want to know what we do. Users can ‘share’ useful content on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter at the click of a button.

The new website has some great new features that are worth having a look at.

Advice: http://203.38.58.104/get-legal-help/advice

Help at court: http://203.38.58.104/get-legal-help/help-at-court

Applying for legal aid: http://203.38.58.104/get-legal-help/applying-for-legal-aid

If you have any questions or comments, you can fill out the web feedback form at http://203.38.58.104/contact-us/make-a-complaint/feedback-form

Further information: Dani Pontes, Publications Officer, on email

 

New Artists in the Black website

The new Artists in the Black (AITB) website has just gone live.  The AITB website was established by the Arts Law Centre of Australia (Arts Law) as an information portal for Indigenous artists, communities and arts organisations. The AITB website provides access to FREE resources to help Indigenous artists protect their rights, including:

Additionally, the Solid Arts website, also operated by Arts Law, is an online resource which contains a wide variety of free information and relevant resources for Indigenous artists, people working with Indigenous artists, people who purchase Indigenous art or are interested in Indigenous issues generally.

Solid Arts is:

Feedback and further information: Jaye Early, Arts Law, email

 

Boarders & Lodgers Legal Kit Launched

The Inner Sydney Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service at Redfern Legal Centre has produced a legal kit for boarders and lodgers with a funding grant from the Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP Salary Trust and with assistance from its pro bono partner, the Mallesons Stephen Jaques Human Rights Law Group. The kit was launched by Clover Moore during National Homelessness Week on 4 August at Parliament House.

Redfern Legal Centre has long campaigned for legislation to cover boarders and lodgers and New South Wales is one of only two States across Australia that lack specific legislation.  While the kit contains useful information for residents that are cut out of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, it also highlights the inadequacies of available remedies for this marginalised group of society. Basic needs such as fixing hot water are far more difficult for those cut out of the Act.  While a tenant can apply to the Tenancy Division of the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal for a simple order for repairs, a boarder must navigate a complex web of legislation and remedies from the General Division of the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal to the Equity Division of the Supreme Court of NSW.

The kit can be downloaded at http://www.rlc.org.au/publications/tool-kits.html

 

7.    Events, commendations and developments

 

Introducing the Australian Centre for Disability Law Inc

The NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre Inc changed its name to the Australian Centre for Disability Law (ADCL), effective from 16 September 2011.  The name change reflects important new directions being pursued by the Centre.  It intends to diversify its legal practice into other areas of disability and the law, and potentially and over time, to practice in other states and territories.   ACDL has already developed a practice in disability and human rights law, which will assist people with disability who allege their human rights recognised in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have been violated.  At the same time the Centre will maintain and continue to build its NSW-based disability discrimination law practice.

A major catalyst for this change was Australia’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which establishes a communications and an inquiry procedure in relation to alleged violations of the Convention.  Recent amendments to the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 have also created a domestic complaints mechanism in relation to alleged violations of CRPD rights. ACDL already has a number of these complaints on foot.  

However, the change also recognises the fact that persons with disability are among the most socially and legally disadvantaged persons in the community and encounter specific difficulties in many areas of law.  By contrast, existing specialist legal services for persons with disability are limited by diagnostic group and jurisdiction which means that many important issues, and many individual with disability, fall through the gaps.  Over time, ACDL hopes to build a specialist legal practice that is more flexible and responsive to the myriad legal problems persons with disability encounter.

Related to this development, the Centre is excited to announce that it has recently been successful along with Legal Aid NSW’s Grants Division in an application for a Partnership Grant under the Legal Aid NSW/Community Legal Centre Partnership Program.  The grant will enable the Centre to develop and trial a Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Program that will build the knowledge and skills of lawyers working with socially and legally disadvantaged persons with disability to practice in disability and human rights. 

Further information: email Fiona Given, Policy Officer, ACDL

 

KLC Celebrates 30 years

In 1981, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on the new Kingsford Legal Centre as follows:

Professor Harding said the service could only be temporary. “We haven’t got the financial backing to make it permanent.”  The service ... will operate for nine months.
‘Student law service planned’, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 July 1981

Despite this cautious and modest beginning, the Kingsford Legal Centre proudly celebrates its 30th year of operation in 2011.  Over the past 30 years KLC staff, students and volunteers have not only provided quality free legal advice to thousands of clients from the Randwick and Botany Council areas but the Centre has also educated around 4,000 UNSW Law Faculty students. 

Further information: email Anna Cody, Director KLC

 

Hume Riverina CLS enters second year of partnership with Charles Darwin University

The Hume Riverina Community Legal Service (HRCLS) has been busy with the arrival of law students from Charles Darwin University (CDU).  It is the second year that HRCLS has been funded by the Commonwealth Attorney-General to provide family law clinical legal education placements for CDU students.

The partnership is unique, as HRCLS is located in Albury-Wodonga, some 3,000 kilometres away from the University.  Students receive a travel subsidy and attend for two weeks.  Many CDU law students study off-campus, and travel from areas such as Darwin, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane.

The program has provided significant benefits to HRCLS through increasing the capacity of the CLS to assist clients. Students conduct work such as: interviewing clients and taken instructions about the client’s legal problem; preparing letters and Court documents under a lawyer’s supervision; and assisting clients with legal aid forms and divorce applications.

The HRCLS has also been able to establish an additional legal advice clinic on Monday afternoons, known as the “Supervised Student Advice Clinic”, where clients can attend and receive free family law advice. At the clinic, students interview the clients, confer with the supervising lawyer about the legal problem, and then provide legal advice to the client.

Students have provided extremely positive feedback from their experience at HRCLS. The HRCLS staff have also enjoyed the enthusiasm and vibrancy brought by the students!

Further information: email Andrew Johanson, Community Project Worker, HRCLS

 

Seminar: Protecting the Rights of Older People

The Aged-care Rights Service (TARS) is hosting a one day seminar “Protecting the Rights of Older people – More than Just the Law” in Sydney on 4 November 2011.  The seminar is also a celebration of TARS’ 25th Anniversary.  If you are interested in attending this event please register for the event now.  Places are limited. All registration details are on the flyer available at www.tars.com.au.

Further information: call Bernadette English on (02) 9281 3600

 

Transforming Legal Education – Australian National Conference on Clinical and Experiential Learning

KLC, in conjunction with Fran Gibson (Director of Experiential Learning, UNSW), organised and hosted a conference on clinical legal education from 7 to 9 September 2011.  The Federal Attorney General opened the conference and a range of very impressive speakers from the USA, New Zealand, England and Australia presented at the plenaries and workshops.  The conference was a great success thanks to all of the presenters.  Papers will be available on the KLC website shortly.

Further information: email Anna Cody, Director KLC

 

Trivia Challenge!

The Australian Centre for Disability Law (previously known as the DDLC – see earlier article) will host its Trivia Challenge on Friday 21 October 2011 from 6pm until 10pm at Paddington Woollahra RSL Club, Paddington.  There will be raffles, prizes and an auction. Finger food and entry to the Trivia Challenge is included in the ticket price.  The Centre is hosting this annual major fundraiser to raise much needed funds for its legal services.

Tickets are $60.00 (inc GST) which includes entry and finger food. Each table seats ten people.  You can buy as many or as few tickets you want. Why not aim for a group of ten people to engage in friendly rivalry with other teams that you will no doubt know?

To enquire or make a booking and payment: email Peter Davies, ACDL

 

New faces at Hunter CLC

HCLC is extremely lucky to have gained two very experienced and capable solicitors: Lucy Urach and Kim Richardson.

Some people may recognise Lucy, she was previously a volunteer at Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre and Macarthur Community Legal Centre. She also worked as a solicitor at the Central Coast Community Legal Centre before moving into private practice where she gained further expertise in Family Law matters.  Lucy has just received her Masters in Applied Family Law.

Kim comes to us with a wide variety of experience as a solicitor. She worked as a Graduate Solicitor with BHP Steel then moved into private practice specialising in Commercial Law before becoming a Contracts Officer in the corporate arena. Kim then spent time travelling overseas before establishing her own practice specialising mainly in Criminal Law.

Further information: email Julie Vitnell, Hunter CLC

Community education training

In partnership with CLCNSW, the Tenants’ Union continues to run the successful community education training.  Nearly 100 CLC staff have attended the training over the last four years.  The next course will be held in February 2012 after the quarterlies.

Further information, email Patrycja Arvidssen, TU

 

Supporting women with complex needs – invitation to consultation

The Women in Prison Advocacy Network is seeking involvement in a consultation about housing women exiting prison and their support needs.

A round table discussion will be held at NCOSS (66 Albion St Surry Hills), 3-5pm on 26 October 2011.

To RSVP: email Brenda Bailey, NCOSS

WIPAN has produced a Discussion Paper that outlines the issues women face in finding suitable housing when they exit prison.  The paper can be downloaded from the following link: http://www.wipan.net.au/publications/WIPAN_Housing_Discussion_Paper.pdf

The issue of housing was chosen as a result of WIPAN’s experience working with women through its Mentoring Program.  Appropriate housing with support to maintain a tenancy was found to be an essential foundation for women to make progress in other areas of their lives and to reduce their risk of returning to prison.

WIPAN will consolidate the information gathered into a final report and recommendations for release early in 2012.  It is hoped the final report will be a useful tool for the sector to inform their planning for new services and help develop their capacity to service the needs of women leaving prison.  Written submissions and comments are also welcome by 25 November 2011.

Details of how and where to submit your comments are in the discussion paper.  Alternatively you can email WIPAN directly.

 

KLC solicitor wins Women Lawyers Association award

Emma Golledge, Principal Solicitor of Kingsford Legal Centre, has won the 2011 Woman Lawyer of the Year in a Community Organisation award.  This award, along with a number of others, is presented annually by the Women Lawyers Association of NSW.  The Awards recognise outstanding women lawyers who have achieved excellence in their area of practice, while advancing opportunities for women in the law.

Emma works primarily in discrimination law.  Her role also includes teaching law students practical skills and undertaking law reform and policy work with a human rights focus.  Prior to this, she worked in the United Kingdom in the community legal centre and government sectors.  She has a passion for social justice and has worked extensively in community legal centres for the past 10 years.  Emma is the co-convenor of the CLCNSW Law Reform and Policy committee.

CLCNSW congratulates Emma on this well-deserved win!

Further information: www.womenlawyersnsw.org.au

 

8.    State Office Update

 

New-look State Office Update

Regular readers will note this new section, State Office Update (SOU), in this edition of On The Record.  Previously, editions of State Office Update were distributed three times a year as a separate CLCNSW publication.  These previous editions of SOU contained details of activities that the State Office had been, or is currently, working on.

As we are keen to keep the sector informed of state office activities on a more regular basis, SOUs will now appear within the quarterly editions of On The Record.

Further information: Alastair McEwin, CLCNSW, phone (02) 9212 7333 or email

 

Aboriginal Legal Access Program (ALAP)
 

ALAP staff movements

The ALAP workers in NSW CLCs form a vital part of the success of the individual CLC Aboriginal Legal Access program where they work.  ALAP is therefore always sorry to see departures of workers from these roles.  Stacey Timms has left Illawarra CLC.  Stacey recently developed an ALAP brochure for the centre, as well as building a strong relationship with the Wesley Church in Wollongong mall.  We wish Stacey the best of luck.

Hawkesbury Nepean ALAP also saw the departure of Gwenda Icke, to whom we also wish well.  Joanna Ravot is the new ALAP worker and we extend a warm welcome to her.

The ALAP at NRCLC is humbly honoured to have Nancy Walke delivering the program.

Recognition of Aboriginal people in the Australian constitution

Both the Aboriginal Advisory Group (AAG) and the ALAP have been busy working on the review of the issue of recognition of Aboriginal people in the Constitution.  After extensive consultation, including a roundtable meeting, the AAG formed a position statement in August 2011 on the Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This statement was endorsed by the CLCNSW Board and included in its submission to the Expert Panel tasked with the review of constitutional recognition.

NAIDOC

NAIDOC was the big event over the last 3 months, with many CLCs contributing. Warringa Baiya and Kingsford Legal Centres both held successful stalls at the La Perouse NAIDOC event.  CLCNSW and the Arts Law Centre combined forces to hold an information stall at WullaMulla.

Further information: email Zachary Armytage, ALAP Community Development Worker, CLCNSW

 

Concerns about access to justice at the MRT remain unresolved

CLCNSW has been advocating for the re-introduction of a full fee waiver option for applicants to the Migration Review Tribunal (“the Tribunal”) who are experiencing severe financial hardship.

From 1 July 2011, full fee waivers were abolished, and instead an applicant facing severe financial hardship must pay $770 (a reduction from the full fee of $1540) to access the Tribunal. People who cannot pay $770 will be unable to seek merits review for a variety of visa decisions made by the Department of Immigration.

CLCNSW called for this change to be reversed (by disallowing the Regulation which introduced the change), and wrote to the Minister for Immigration, the federal Attorney-General, and the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee.

Copies of the letters are available on the CLCNSW website at: http://www.clcnsw.org.au/cb_pages/law_reform

Senator Hanson-Young did move a motion of disallowance in the Senate, and during the debate spoke about the need for accessibility of our legal system, and provided an example of a woman subjected to domestic violence after arrival in Australia being unable to access the Tribunal. The ALP Government rejected the disallowance motion citing financial reasons (and avoiding the issue of access to merits review by people who don't have $770).

Unfortunately, as the disallowance motion was not supported by the ALP or Coalition MPs, the Regulation still stands.

This issue can continue to be raised in wider discussions about access to justice, access to merits review, and government responsibilities in relation to assisting victims of family violence.

Further information: email Roxana Zulfacar, Advocacy & Human Rights Officer, CLCNSW

 

Practice Management Course

Last month, CLCNSW, in conjunction with the College of Law, ran a three-day Practice Management Course for CLC lawyers.  This is the only course of its type offered in NSW and is a significant strategy under the CLCNSW Sector Development Program to provide skills and information to CLC workers.  This course followed a highly successful pilot that was run in 2010 and has been developed in response to consistent feedback over the years from CLC lawyers that existing legal practice management courses lacked community-based content that was relevant to CLCs.

Over 20 CLC workers attended last month’s course.  Participants heard from a range of presenters, including specialists who work in CLCs or have experience in community-based organisations.  Participants had the benefit of learning directly from their peers and colleagues in the sector. Topics included strategic planning and financial management for CLCs, dealing with difficult clients, cooperative legal service delivery, and avoiding or reducing the risk of burnout.

Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive, with all participants stating the College of Law  / CLCNSW collaboration has been beneficial to the sector.  Comments included: “The course exceeded my expectations! It was interactive and used so many relevant case studies/examples”; “One of the reasons I found the course so useful was because the majority of the presenters were from CLCs and / or have extensive experience in the community sector; and “I am grateful for the tailoring of this course to our sector.”

CLCNSW will continue to work with the College of Law to improve and enhance this program and looks forward to providing the course to the sector in future years.

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:

Phone: (02) 9212 7333

www.clcnsw.org.au

 

 

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