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On the Record - THe e-bulletin Issue #17 December 2011


Community Legal Centres: Community, Compassion, Justice
Issue #17

December 2011

This is the seventeenth 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

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Contents:

1. Community Legal Sector News

2011 NACLC conference
CLCNSW 2012 State conference
New CEO appointed at Legal Aid
Update on the review of legal assistance services
The State Office has moved!
Best wishes for the holiday season

2. Community Law

Cultural Awareness Training a Great Success
Consultation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Constitutional recognition
Growing awareness of animal protection law
Hypothetical had all the answers

3. Human Rights in action

South East NSW Women’s Legal Service meets a need
Consolidation of Tribunals submission
Water charges from 31 January 2012
Co-ordinated Family Dispute resolution in the Central Coast region
New Youth Clinics for Hunter

4. Case reports

Environmental outcomes of EDO clients in merit appeals
Compensation claims for victims of abuse in youth institutions
Housing NSW tenancy saved through negotiated repayment plan

5. Media mentions

Aboriginal legal issues on air in the Northern Rivers region
Solicitor from Women’s Legal Services NSW interviewed on local radio
Jetstar accused of illegal discrimination
Follow the Tenants’ Union on Twitter

6. Publications

Central Coast is now on Facebook!
Tenants’ Union website
Aboriginal Legal Services NSW/ACT launches new website
Revised and updated Discrimination Toolkit
Launch of materials on Car Accidents

7. Events, commendations and developments

2011 Justice awards
Kingsford LC celebrates 30 years of service

Far West extends Christmas spirit to those in need
Shadow Attorney general visits and 20th anniversary celebrations in the Hunter
Shoalcoast elects new board of management
IARC Volunteer wins Young Volunteer Award
Anna Hartree resigns from Kingsford Legal Centre
New staff at the Tenants’ Union
‘Tis the season: some ‘words of wisdom’ from the Principal Solicitor at Far West CLC
“What’s The Rent?” seminar

8. State Office Update

Accreditation
Survey about police complaints – final opportunity

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

1. Community Legal Sector News

2011 NACLC conference

In October, NACLC and Tasmanian CLCs hosted the 2011 NACLC annual conference.  The conference provided an important opportunity for colleagues from CLCs and wider justice stakeholders to get together, learn from each other, attend interesting sessions and participate in networking events, including a conference dinner.  The 2011 conference, held in Hobart and attended by over 450 delegates, was driven by the theme ‘Rights, Representation, Reform’.

Keynote speakers included Cassandra Goldie, Jim Ife, Rodney Croome, and members of the Tasmanian Parliament, the latter of whom spoke about the challenges of a minority government.  NSW CLCs were well represented in the sessions over the 3 days of the conference, with close to 50% of the sessions having NSW CLC workers or NSW justice colleagues participating as presenters.

CLCNSW congratulates NACLC and our Tasmanian colleagues on a well-organised and inspiring event.  We look forward to catching up with everyone in Adelaide in August 2012.

Further information: http://www.naclc.org.au/cb_pages/current_conference.php

 

CLCNSW 2012 State conference

Planning is well and truly underway for the CLCNSW 2012 State conference.  The conference is held every two years and provides CLC workers and their justice colleagues with the opportunity to celebrate and affirm the progress and achievements of CLCs within the NSW legal justice sector and the broader community.  It supports knowledge sharing, skills training and professional development through a variety of workshops and seminar sessions.  The conference will be held over three days from 8 – 10 May.  Day 1 will be held at Sydney Law School and is for RRR CLC workers and those with an interest in RRR issues.  Day 2 and 3 will be held at Rydges World Square hotel and is open to all with an interest in the justice sector.

The 2012 conference theme is “Community Legal Centres: Pushing the Boundaries”, with the planning committee currently working hard to develop a program that captures this theme throughout all sessions during the conference.  The call for abstracts has now closed; those who submitted abstracts will be contacted very soon with the outcomes of their submissions.  The planning committee received a large number of submissions, making the task of selection particularly challenging; we thank everyone for their interest in presenting on a topic at the conference.

Further information: http://www.clcnsw.org.au/conference2012

 

New CEO appointed at Legal Aid NSW

In late October, the Attorney General, The Hon Greg Smith SC MP, announced the appointment of Bill Grant OAM as the Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW, effective 5 December 2011.  Bill was previously CEO of Legal Aid NSW from 2001 to 2007. 

In announcing Bill’s appointment, Mr Smith said: "I am delighted Mr Grant has agreed to return to the position of CEO of Legal Aid, after a four-year absence from the organisation.  Legal Aid's service delivery thrived while Mr Grant was at the helm, resulting in him being awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community and to the law."  Bill’s immediate past role was as the Secretary-General of the Law Council of Australia, a body representing more than 50,000 legal practitioners.  He began his career at the Crown Solicitor's Office, then worked at the Attorney General's Department between 1988 and 2001, reaching the position of Deputy Director General.  Bill has also served as Acting Commissioner of the Health Care Complaints Commission.

CLCNSW welcomes Bill back to Legal Aid and looks forward to working with him on issues concerning public legal services, including CLCs.  CLCNSW also acknowledges the work of Richard Funston who was acting in the role prior to Bill’s appointment.

 

Update on the review of legal assistance services

As advised in the October 2011 edition of On The Record, the NSW Government is currently undertaking 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.

Stakeholders, including CLCs, were given the opportunity to provide written submissions to the review in October.  Two meetings of the consultative committee have taken place since the commencement of the review.  Issues raised and discussed have encompassed the broad range of services provided by the public legal organisations in NSW, noting in particular that the community’s legal needs are diverse and constantly changing, with legal services needing to be resourced appropriately to address these needs.  Key issues being addressed by the review include: assisting non-legal professionals who deal with disadvantaged people to make appropriate referrals to legal services; the important role of coordination that organisations such as the NSW Legal Assistance Forum (NLAF) and the Cooperative Legal Service Delivery Program play in the legal assistance sector;      the development and implementation of self-help strategies and resources to assist members of the public in dealing with legal issues; and reducing the red tape burden on community based legal assistance services by increasing consistency in funding administration, data collection and reporting requirements.

The review will continue into 2012, with a report expected to be provided to the Attorney General in mid-2012.

Further information: email Alastair McEwin, Director, CLCNSW

 

The State Office has moved!

In early December, the State Office of CLCNSW re-located from its premises in Jones Street, Ultimo, to a larger office space in Surry Hills.  The relocation was brought about by the addition of a new program (Accreditation) and the need to provide more functional work and meeting areas for all staff, as well as being easily accessible via public transport to our members and other stakeholders.  The new office, located at 28 Foveaux Street, is a 3-minute walk to and from Central station and buses on Elizabeth Street.

We have settled well into the new office and look forward to welcoming our members and justice sector colleagues to the premises in 2012.

Contact details are as follows:

Community Legal Centres NSW Incorporated
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

 

Best wishes for the holiday season

The Board and staff of CLCNSW extend their very best wishes to its member CLCs and NSW and national justice sector colleagues for a safe and relaxing holiday season.  We have very much enjoyed working with you in 2011 and look forward to continued collaboration as we meet the opportunities and challenges a new year always brings.

 

2.    Community law

Cultural Awareness Training a Great Success

Shoalcoast CLC were privileged to organise, through the CLSD network, Cultural Awareness Training held at the Shoalhaven Arts Centre.  25 participants were treated to an enthralling and, at times somewhat disturbing, account of life on Aboriginal missions of old, by Aunty Kate Davis and Gail Wallace.  Both presenters were the originators of Circle Sentencing, which commenced in the Local Court at Nowra in 2002 and successfully continues today and has been extended to a number of other local court regions.  

In addition, both presenters participate in Circle Care, which operates in conjunction with the Department of Family and Community Services with the aim of placing aboriginal children in need of care, within the family structure of the relevant aboriginal community. Three years and as yet they have not failed in finding a suitable placement.  Many helpful hints as to how to deal with aboriginal clients were also forthcoming and all participants agreed that it was a very worthwhile session.

Further information: email Barry Penfold, Shoalcoast CLC

 

Consultation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Constitutional recognition

In September, Redfern LC participated in a Redfern community consultation about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recognition in the Australian Constitution.  RLC organised the consultation in partnership with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Mudgin-gal Aboriginal Women’s Corporation and Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre.  Presentations were made by: the Indigenous Law Centre at the University of NSW; the Gilbert + Tobin Centre for Public Law at the University of NSW; and Mudgin-gal Aboriginal Women’s Corporation. Gilbert + Tobin supported the event with catering and with assisting RLC to capture and write a submission summarising the discussion.

Attendees (both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) were generally unaware of options for Constitutional reform (reform) and there was confusion and concern over the possible effects of reform. There was a feeling that opportunities for reform should be seized and that changes should be substantive and not just include a symbolic recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first people of Australia.

The discussion indicated that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community (at least in Redfern) has not been adequately engaged in the discussion about reform and people felt that they needed more time to develop a proper understanding of the issues.  Members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community displayed weariness of government intervention based on past experience.  Attendees passionately desired to improve living standards within their communities and seek greater respect and recognition from government and the wider Australian public.

Further information: email Sophie Farrell, Redfern LC

 

Growing awareness of animal protection law

The Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre has been operating a volunteer Animal Law & Education Project (ALEP) since 2009.  ALEP has run a number of successful community legal education workshops on animal protection issues as well as engaging in animal welfare law reform concerning live animal export, puppy farming and land transport of bobby calves for slaughter.  At the recent NACLC National Conference in Hobart, ALEP member, Angela Pollard ran a workshop on why CLCs are well-placed to engage in animal protection law.  The participants agreed with this proposition, passing a resolution for NACLC to establish a National Animal Law Network, with Angela Pollard as Convenor. This resolution was approved at NACLC’s December meeting, and the network is in the process of being set up.   

In recognition of the work undertaken by ALEP, Northern Rivers CLC was recently awarded a grant from ‘Voiceless, the animal protection institute’ to promote animal protection law as a social justice issue to the NSW community legal sector. The funding will assist ALEP to provide training and information sessions at CLCNSW Quarterly meetings in 2012, with the aim of building a CLCNSW Animal Law Network.  Training sessions will be provided by a range of animal lawyers and activists.

Further information: email Angela Pollard Centre Manager, Northern Rivers CLC, to join her growing list of CLC workers who want to know more about how they can incorporate animal law into their CLC. 

 

Hypothetical had all the answers

Experience is said to be the best teacher but ‘Hypotheticals’ can be a pretty good learning tool as well.

Katie Lahodny, Shoalcoast’s FRC solicitor, joined forces with a panel of experts from the private profession, Family Court, Department of Family and Community Services, Legal Aid and the Nowra Family Relationship Centre to conduct a Hypothetical training session entitled ”A Childs Journey Through Family Law.”

Katie was the author of the very comprehensive hypothetical and the experts and some 70 participants provided the answers. The objective was to identify the gaps or barriers and limitations that impact on sufficiently protecting children from harm in post parent separation as they journey through the Family Law system and beyond.  In addition, it included the interface and differing objectives of Community Services, the police and the Local Court.

Further information: Katie Lahodny, Shoalcoast CLC, phone (02) 4422 9529

 

3.    Human Rights in action

 South East NSW Women’s Legal Service meets a need

A recent evaluation of the work and demands of the S.E.NSW Women’s Legal Service resulted in a very high acceptance of the service within the five council regions covered by the service. One comment from a stakeholder (Local Court Registrar at Cooma) probably sums up the situation in many RRR service areas: “We have plenty of numbers for people to ring but rarely do they have someone to see”.  Shoalcoast will be looking to ensure that, as much as resources allow, there will be someone to see on a regular basis.  A forum of stakeholders in the Cooma region is being planned for April 2012.

Further information: email Barry Penfold, Shoalcoast CLC

 

Consolidation of Tribunals Submission

The Tenants' Union made submissions to and appeared before the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice regarding 'Opportunities for Tribunal Amalgamation'.  The TU expressed its view that the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal has done a reasonably good job of increasing access to justice for tenants and added that changes could be made to improve the quality of decision making in the Tribunal.  The TU's submission also picked up questions to do with the jurisdiction of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal, suggesting that the ADT should be able to review Housing NSW decisions generally, but in particular, decisions about rent rebates.

Further information: Leo Patterson Ross, Tenants’ Union, phone: 02 8117 3701

 

Water Charges from 31 January 2012

A reminder that the transitional period covering water efficiency measures in the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) will come to an end on 31 January 2012.  Section 39 of the Act sets out the requirements which, if not followed, means the tenant cannot be charged for water usage.

The transitional period covers tenancy agreements that were in place before commencement of the Act on 31 January 2011.  All other tenancy agreements are already covered by these provisions.

Further information:

1. Tenants NSW website (www.tenants.org.au) Factsheet 23: Utilities or from your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service.

2. Leo Patterson Ross, Tenants’ Union, phone: 02 8117 3701

 

Co-ordinated Family Dispute Resolution in the Central Coast region

Since May 2011, the Central Coast Community Legal Centre has been taking part in one of five pilot Co-ordinated Family Dispute Resolution projects in conjunction with the Hunter Community Legal Centre and Interrelate (Newcastle).  The project is funded by the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department, and aims to use a multidisciplinary approach to the family dispute resolution services at Family Relationship Centres within a framework that supports a focus on safe processes and outcomes for families impacted by family violence.  The pilot was developed by Women’s Legal Services, Brisbane, after they were commissioned by the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department to research a good practice model for families needing to resolve parenting issues where there had been family violence.  The pilot is being evaluated by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The project involves solicitors, domestic violence workers and mediators collaborating in an ongoing case management process so as to improve outcomes for these families, thereby avoiding the need for court proceedings.

The Central Coast CLC is a partner agency to the Hunter CLC, which represents the victim of family violence.  The perpetrator is then referred to Central Coast CLC, where the CFDR solicitor provides legal advice and representation throughout the process, including at mediation.

Further information: email Bronwyn Ambrogetti, Central Coast CLC

 

New Youth Clinics for Hunter

Hunter CLC is current working on establishing two new Youth Clinics to begin operations in the New Year. Through its links with Mission Australia, HCLC hopes to operate a monthly drop-in clinic for youth at HCLC’s premises. The other clinic will operate on an outreach basis through the Salvation Army’s new premises in Hamilton and will be available to the young and the homeless. Details of the new clinics will follow in early 2012.

Further information: email Julie Vitnell, Hunter CLC

 

4.    Case notes

 Environmental outcomes for EDO clients in merit appeals

In November 2011 decisions were handed down in two merit appeal cases run by the Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) in the Land and Environment Court of NSW (LEC), with some good results for our clients and also for environmental law jurisprudence: Ironstone Community Action Group Inc. v NSW Minister for Planning and Duralie Coal Pty Ltd [2011] NSWLEC 195 (Duralie); and Hunter Environment Lobby Inc. v Minister for Planning [2011] NSWLEC 221 (Ulan).  Both Duralie and Ulan challenged approvals which had been granted by the Minister for Planning under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act) for large coal mines with significant environmental impacts. While the Court granted approval to both projects, it has imposed more stringent conditions on the mine operations resulting in improved environmental outcomes.

In Duralie the Ironstone Community Action Group Inc. challenged approval of a project known as the Duralie Extension Project, a new open cut coalmine 10 kilometres north of Stroud in the Hunter Valley.  The Court handed down its decision on 10 November 2011.  As a result of the case the areas that must be maintained and enhanced for conservation purposes, the biodiversity offset areas, have increased from 444 ha to 680 ha, and the conditions include closer correlation with vegetation communities that are being cleared, ensuring that the biodiversity offset is “like for like”. There are also greater protections for the Giant Barred Frog.

With respect to surface water quality, his Honour Preston CJ made a number of changes to the conditions of approval for controlling discharge to Mammy Johnsons River and monitoring of contaminants. The Court imposed a condition requiring that there be “no direct discharge into Mammy Johnsons River”. 

In Ulan the Hunter Environment Lobby Inc. challenged approval of a project comprising the consolidation and expansion of the Ulan coalmine, doubling its production rate to 20 million tonnes of coal per year.  The Court handed down its decision on 24 November 2011. Her Honour, Justice Pain, stated that approval should “in principle” be granted, but has requested further information from the parties in relation to some conditions. Her Honour intends to impose a larger offset area, requiring the parties to try to agree on a suitable offset corridor area to provide linkage between the two biodiversity offset areas required by the State and Commonwealth approval processes. Her honour has also indicated her intention to impose certain conditions sought by the applicant requiring Ulan to offset its greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits. However, her Honour has sought comment on the implications for the wording of the conditions of recent Commonwealth legislation comprising the Clean Energy Act 2011 (Cth) and related legislation. If the Court imposes these conditions, this will be the first time that an Australian Court has imposed a condition requiring the offset of greenhouse gas emissions, and it will also be the first time such a condition is imposed on a coalmine in NSW.

 Further information: email Kirsty Ruddock, Principal Solicitor, Environmental Defender’s Office Ltd

 

Compensation claims for victims of abuse in youth institutions

Six months ago Macarthur LC met with a client who wanted to tell the Centre his story of being a child in care.  This man told of the abuse he suffered and how he had buried it until he saw the request for submissions to the Senate on the impact of living in care.  The client made a submission to the Senate detailing his story.  It was like a floodgate opening - he then disclosed to his wife and his children what had happened to him as a young boy.  This gentleman had been abused whilst in an Anglican boys home.  Following the submission he contacted the church and made a claim for compensation.  The church paid him compensation and apologised to him. He has used that compensation to place advertisements in newspapers to encourage people like himself to come forward and seek help.

The client told Macarthur that for a lot of the men he had come into contact with, they had histories of serious drug and alcohol abuse, relationship breakdowns and chaotic lifestyles.  Many of these men were in their late 60's and 70's.  He recounted that the biggest fear these men had was that they would die and have pauper's funerals because they had no assets.  None of the men he had spoken to had lodged claims for victims compensation or had approached any of the church organisations who ran homes.

Macarthur offered to speak at meetings the client was organising to tell the people about victims compensation.  Recently, Macarthur LC has received telephone calls and emails from people in Victoria, Tasmania and regional New South Wales, wanting to know more about what compensation is available.  All of the enquiries have come from men who were in boys' homes in NSW in the 1950's and 1960's.

Macarthur has commenced lodging applications for counselling and compensation with applications for leave.  In many instances it will be very difficult to prove the act of violence.  Histories of each of the institutions involved are being put together, as well as details from the clients of what happened to them.  For many the psychological injury is quite apparent.  If Macarthur LC is granted leave, they will request that the claims be given priority in light of the age, and in some cases the frailty, of the clients.

Further information: email Prue Gregory, Principal Solicitor, Macarthur Legal Centre.

 

Housing NSW tenancy saved through negotiated repayment plan

Paul, a Housing NSW tenant, had been visiting family overseas.  On his return to Australia, he found that the Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) had made an order for termination of his tenancy for rent arrears.  Paul dropped in to Redfern LC’s Inner Sydney Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service (ISTAAS) two days before he was to give vacant possession.  Paul was confused as he normally paid his rent by direct debit, and did not understand how he could have fallen into arrears.  He found out that he had incurred them due to a fault with Housing NSW computers whereby the rent had not been deducted from his account as usual.

The tenant advocate helped Paul to decide how much of his arrears he could pay off every fortnight without falling into hardship.  The advocate then rang Housing NSW and made the offer of a repayment plan.  The new Residential Tenancies Act 2010 says that any termination solely on the ground of non-payment of rent cease to have effect if the tenant pays all the rent owing, or enters into, and fully complies with, a repayment plan agreed with the landlord.

Housing NSW was not aware of these changes and insisted that Paul would have to lodge a rehearing application as the tenancy had been terminated.  After the advocate pointed out the relevant sections of the Act, Housing NSW agreed to the repayment plan.  Paul’s tenancy was saved.

Further information: email Sophie Farrell, Redfern LC

 

5.    Media mentions

 Aboriginal legal issues on air in the Northern Rivers region

The Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre’s Aboriginal Legal Access Program (ALAP) has a weekly radio show on 88.9fm Richmond Valley Radio.  The show features Indigenous music, and legal and other relevant information.  88.9fm is a community radio station situated at Bora Ridge with a large listening base derived from the local Aboriginal communities.   The Centre started the program in mid November 2011 and has so far featured NRCLC services, domestic violence, human rights and youth legal issues.  The Human rights show featured an interview with Mick Gooda, the ATSI Social Justice Commissioner, on the practical application of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the CEO of the Casino Medical Centre Steve Blunden on the closing the gap services available in the region.  The final show for the year featured NRCLC’s family law solicitor, Richard Hughes, who will speak about issues related to family law and children that are relevant to the Aboriginal community.

The ALAP radio show is an initiative by Nancy Walke, the ALAP community development worker, and Karin Ness, the ALAP solicitor, as a means to conveying legal information to the local Aboriginal communities and to increase participation in the Centre’s outreach advice locations.  The program will continue in 2012.

Further information: tune into 88.9fm Richmond Valley Radio via their website, www.radio889.org.au.  The ALAP program goes to air on Tuesdays between 2 and 3pm.

 

Solicitor from Women's Legal Services NSW interviewed on Local Radio

Two local radio stations in Sydney’s Western Suburbs interviewed Maha Najjarine from Women’s Legal Services NSW about domestic violence in Australia. The interviews, on 24 and 25 November 2011 were carried out as part of events for White Ribbon Day and the 16 Days of Activism against violence towards women and girls.

The interviews focused on different types of domestic violence and the effects it has on women and children with a focus on issues within the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) community. The interviews provided valuable information to the listening audience about what services are available to assist women who have experienced domestic violence and their families as well as discussing obstacles facing women to report domestic violence and combatting some myths in the community about domestic violence

Further information: Natalie Neumann, Community Legal Education Coordinator, Women’s Legal Services, phone: (02) 8745 6956

 

Jetstar Accused of Illegal Discrimination

Joanna Shulman, RLC Chief Executive Officer, spoke out on the Federal Court case against Jetstar, brought by Sheila King, a 75-year-old woman with a disability after the airline refused to allow her on a flight due to a policy that restricts any one flight to two wheelchairs.

Link to transcript of interview with ABC: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2011/s3352738.htm

Further information: email Sophie Farrell, Redfern LC

 

6.    Publications

 Central Coast CLC is now on Facebook!

The Central Coast Community Legal Centre now has a Facebook presence. Given the changing nature of legal service delivery, and the prevalence of technology in everyday life, Central Coast CLC decided to improve its accessibility to the community by establishing a Facebook presence in September 2010.  The Centre uses its Facebook page to promote upcoming CLEs and activities that they’re involved with, to recognise staff and volunteer achievements, and to promote its services generally. An added bonus is that it allows it to network to non-legal community organisations in the area, such as neighbourhood centres and outreach location providers, who can then let their clients know about the services Central Coast CLC provides.

To view the page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Central-Coast-Community-Legal-Centre/163274617022355, or log into your own Facebook account and search for “Central Coast Community Legal Centre”.

Further information: email Bronwyn Ambrogetti, Central Coast CLC

 

Tenants’ Union Website

The Tenants' Union has launched its very own website! The address is: http://www.tenantsunion.org.au

The site is designed to allow the Tenants Union to showcase its policy, law reform and litigation work and expand interaction with its members and stakeholders.  The Tenants NSW website (www.tenants.org.au) is still the primary point of access for tenants looking for information and advice from the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services.

The Tenants Union can also be followed on Twitter and Facebook:

www.twitter.com/tunsw

www.facebook.com/pages/The-Brown-Couch/318095761548145

Further information: Leo Patterson Ross, Tenants’ Union, phone: 02 8117 3701

 

Aboriginal Legal Services NSW/ACT launches new website

Last year the ALS Board and staff agreed its website required a makeover.  It needed to be more user friendly, easier to navigate, and with more information that is relevant and current.  The result is a brand new website which now meets the needs of ALS staff and its community.

Some of the features on the new website include: 

The website displays photos of the staff and volunteers as the ALS feels it is important for people using their service to know who will be assisting them.  The website reflects who the ALS is, its strength and survival.

Link: www.alsnswact.org.au.

Further information and comments/suggestions: email Kate Finlayson, Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT or phone 8303 6699 or 0418 254 237 

 

Revised and updated Discrimination Toolkit

Fully revised and updated, the Discrimination Toolkit is a joint publication of Legal Aid NSW, Kingsford Legal Centre and Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre.  The Discrimination Toolkit is a plain English guide to State and Federal discrimination law.  Topics include discrimination basics, strategies for dealing with discrimination, what to expect if you make a formal complaint and where to get help.

Packed with practical tips and examples, the Discrimination Toolkit is an invaluable resource for anyone who has been discriminated against and wants to do something about it.  It can also be used by community workers and advocates who are assisting someone with a discrimination problem.

To download the publication: www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au

 

Launch of materials on Car Accidents

LawAssist, a website hosted by LawAccess NSW, has launched Car Accidents materials.  They have also made some changes to the way users can navigate around the LawAssist website.

Car Accidents

The Car Accident topic includes the following information:

Navigation

Changes include the following:

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

 

7.    Events, commendations and developments

 2011 Justice awards

On 24 October 2011 the Law & Justice Foundation hosted its annual Justice Award dinner at NSW Parliament House.  The awards, one of the premier events on the NSW justice calendar, recognises and honours the achievements and commitments of individuals and organisations that strive to improve access to justice, particularly for those most disadvantaged in our communities.  In addition to seeing a wide range of nominees, attendees at the dinner heard Dr Tom Calma deliver the Law & Justice address.

CLCNSW award

The 2011 Community Legal Centres NSW (CLCNSW) Award recognises an individual or a group of individuals who, in a voluntary capacity in a NSW community legal centre, have demonstrated outstanding commitment to improving access to justice in NSW, particularly for socially and economically disadvantaged people.  This may have been demonstrated in a range of activities over an extended period, or in a single significant activity.  The 2011 winner was Michael Steinfeld.  Michael has been volunteering at Kingsford Legal Centre on a fortnightly basis for its evening advice clinic for 27 years.  Over his volunteer years he has assisted thousands of disenfranchised clients.  Through the clinical legal education program at KLC, Michael has worked with many students on the Centre’s advice nights and has shown himself to be a patient and experienced mentor.  Over the years he has made many trips to Long Bay Gaol to provide pro bono advice to prisoners.  He also is a source of advice and help to the centre’s solicitors if a client comes in for help in an area which the centre does not practice in.

CLCNSW congratulates Michael on his win and his commitment to Kingsford’s clients.  We also congratulate the other two nominees for the award: Jules Munro (volunteer for Arts Law Centre) and Michael Windsor SC (volunteer for Redfern LC).

Justice Medal

CLCNSW was delighted to see John McKenzie win the 2011 Justice Medal.

John started work as an Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) solicitor in Moree in north-west NSW in 1980, working his way up to his current role as Chief Legal Officer of the organisation.  John’s previous roles have included working for the ALS in several remote and regional areas as well as in Redfern.  He also worked as a Principal Solicitor on the staff of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody from 1987 to 1991.

CLCNSW extends its warmest congratulations to John for winning the Justice Medal – a very well deserved win for over 30 years of service to disadvantaged Aboriginal people.  We also congratulate all winners and nominees for the other Justice awards.  It was truly inspiring to see the wonderful range of individuals and organisations that are passionate and committed to access to justice for all people in NSW.

 Further information: email Alastair McEwin, Director, CLCNSW

 

Kingsford LC celebrates 30 years of service

On 17 November Kingsford hosted a 30th birthday party at its offices at UNSW.  The 1981 themed party was a great success with wonderful speeches from Director Anna Cody, Professor Brendan Edgeworth (UNSW Law Faculty Head of School), Tony Woods (ex-KLC Director) and the hilarious Vedna Jivan (ex-KLC staff member).  Thirty years of service to its community and to its students is a great achievement and Kingsford thanks all supporters, both past and present.

Further information: email Anna Cody, Director, Kingsford LC

 

Far West CLC extends Christmas spirit to those in need

The Far West Community Legal Centre called on local people to donate non-perishable food and toys to their Christmas appeal, with the gifts to be sent to people in need in Wilcannia before Christmas Day.  The donations have been coming in and Far West CLC will be looking at repeating the initiative in 2012.

Rachel Storey, Principal Solicitor of Far West CLC, said: “There have been some very special donations and we can feel happy in knowing there are some very lovely and generous people in our community.”  Organisations that assisted included Centacare, Centrelink, CDEP, Lifeline (Broken Hill), and Wilcannia Police.  Legal Aid NSW enthusiastically got on board with arranging personal donations from their staff of over a couple of thousand dollars (and rising) to contribute towards the appeal.

Ms Storey went on to say: “We are going to do this next year in a much more co-ordinated way and extend to other areas in our region.  In the post-Christmas spring cleaning, if you decide you are swamped by toys or clothes or items outgrown/not wanted by you after Christmas, we will take donations after we re-open on 9 January 2012.”

Further information: email Rachel Storey, Principal Solicitor, Far West CLC

 

Shadow Attorney General visits and 20th Anniversary Celebrations in the Hunter

Shadow Attorney General and State Member for Liverpool Paul Lynch MP paid a visit to the Hunter Community Legal Centre on 14 December. During his visit Mr Lynch commented that Community Legal Centres play an important role in increasing access to justice.  He issued a media release commenting on the real cuts to funding for CLCs by the State Government and its lack of support for fairer wages for staff employed in CLCs under community sector awards.

The Hunter CLC celebrated its 20th anniversary in December 2011.  The event was marked by a combined Christmas and Anniversary celebration on 1 December 2011, which was attended by staff, committee members and members of the local community including the private legal profession, judicial officers, academics and community organisations.  The staff then held a Christmas function later in the month, which was enjoyed by all.  The evening of ‘bare foot bowls’ became a very competitive event, particularly with the HCLC solicitors.  Our reigning Bare Foot Bowling Champ is one of our Family Law Solicitors Lynne Jackson.

Further information: email Julie Vitnell, Hunter CLC

 

Shoalcoast elects New Board of Management

At the recent AGM for the Shoalcoast Community Legal Centre Incorporated a new Board of Management was elected and a number of retiring members were praised for their past efforts.  One of the very encouraging aspects of the AGM was the keen interest shown by the Shoalhaven Legal Profession in their desire to contribute to the Board. There are now six solicitors and one legally qualified member contributing to the decisions necessary to ensure the maintenance and growth of the work carried out by the Centre.  It is pleasing to be accepted as a very important part of the local legal community and allows for a stronger basis of referral of clients in both directions.

Further information: email Barry Penfold, Shoalcoast CLC

 

IARC Volunteer wins Young Volunteer Award

Ji-Boem Jang was awarded the Young Volunteer Award for his services to the Immigration Advice & Rights Centre (IARC) by the then Federal Minister for Human Services and Social Inclusion, Tanya Plibersek, at a ceremony on 5 December to mark International Volunteer Day.

IARC staff and management and CLCNSW extend warm congratulations to Ji-Boem on this recognition.

Further information: Mark Pappallo, CEO, IARC, phone 02 9279 4300

 

Anna Hartree Resigns from Kingsford Legal Centre

KLC Coordinator, Anna Hartree, resigned from KLC, effective late October.  Anna has been a familiar face in the CLC sector and has developed strong relationships for over 7 years through her active participation in sector-wide projects.  She is also well known and admired in the local Kingsford community.  She will be greatly missed for her warmth and compassion and Kingsford and CLCNSW wish her very well for the future.

 

New Staff at the Tenants’ Union

The Tenants’ Union of NSW welcomes two new staff members to the team!

Virginia Marshall has taken up the mantle of Litigation Solicitor.  Virginia has most recently been the Senior Legal Officer with the Australian Law Reform Commission working on the Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws Inquiry.  Virginia also has been a Criminal Solicitor with Legal Aid and Legal Officer with NSW Land Council.

Peter Larsen also joins the team as Strategic Technology Officer.  Peter comes to us with broad and varied IT experience.  He has worked at an RTO, for profits and not for profits, including the Bell Shakespeare Company.

Further information: Leo Patterson Ross, Tenants’ Union, phone: 02 8117 3701

 

‘Tis the season: some ‘words of wisdom’ from the Principal Solicitor at Far West CLC

Christmas time again!  If you are like me, you are probably still paying off last year’s Christmas debt.  But here are some pointers for you to have a think about as we head into the silly season:

Further information: email Rachel Storey, Principal Solicitor, Far West CLC

 

“What’s The Rent?” seminar

“What’s the Rent?” is a seminar jointly hosted by the Tenants’ Union NSW and Shelter NSW on 15 February 2012.

The aim of rent subsidies for social housing tenants and Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) is to deliver affordable rents … but these forms of assistance face a number of pressures:

Further information: www.tenants.org.au

 

8.    State Office Update

 Accreditation

Meg Houston was appointed as the Regional Accreditation Coordinator (RAC) for CLCNSW and took up the position on 24 October.  Meg, who emigrated from Scotland a year ago, has a background in the justice sector, having worked for the prosecution in Scotland, for the Legal Services Commission in London and the Scottish Legal Aid Board.  Meg has experience of auditing civil legal aid firms and of running pilot legal projects.  She has also been involved in quality assurance work and developing quality standards for legal advice.

Since taking up the role Meg has been familiarising herself with the accreditation scheme, in which all CLCNSW member CLCs are required to comply with national accreditation standards or provide evidence that they are working towards compliance, and the tools developed by NACLC, the SPP (Standards and Performance Pathways) and MSO (Management Support Online.)  Most centres have now registered for SPP and MSO.  Relationships have been established with the accreditation contact for each centre and Meg has provided advice and support to several centres, helping them with the self assessment process.  Meg recently shadowed Lis Maier, the National Accreditation Coordinator, at an onsite visit to a CLC in ACT and gained valuable insight into the self assessment process and outcomes, the desk top audit, the schedule of interviews on the day and the report and recommendations process.

Meg will be in touch with centres in the new year to arrange an onsite visit, following completion of the online self assessment and will then provide assistance in developing a workplan, which is a compilation of the self assessment, site visit and report and recommendations.

Further information or support and assistance: email Meg Houston, Regional Accreditation Coordinator, CLCNSW

 

Survey about Police Complaints – final opportunity

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 and will close on 24 December 2012.

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

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

 

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

 

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