Equality Handbook 2009
Melbourne University Law Studentsâ€™ Society
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Equality Handbook 2009
Melbourne university Law Studentsâ€™ Society Editing
Jenny Jiang and Jessica Rae
The Public Display Unit
Printing Print Bound Sponsors Clayton Utz and DLA Phillips Fox
Acknowledgements We would like to thank all the law students, lecturers and practitioners for contributing their inspirational articles, the Law Students’ Society for their support and Clayton Utz and DLA Phillips Fox for their generous sponsorship. Special thanks must also go to a number of people who assisted us in compiling the Handbook: Bob Hu, for his work on the volunteer directory; Anthony Rae for his photography skills; Phillip Sayers (Print Bound) for his patience, Ronny Chieng (Public Display Unit), for designing the front and back cover; and Duy Nguyen (Public Display Unit) for formatting and design. Finally, we also extend our thanks to Nicole Bieske for accepting our invitation to launch the 2009 Equality Handbook. Published by: Law Students’ Society C/- The Law School The University of Melbourne Victoria 3010
© 2008 Law Students’ Society Inc. Articles in this public represent the views of the authors. While every effort has been made to ensure that information in this publication is correct at the time of printing, the publisher accepts no responsibility or liability for any errors, omissions or other consequences arising from the information in this publication.
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Contents Editorial: No Man (or Woman) is an Island........................................................................ vi Jenny Jiang and Jessica Rae
Where did all the money go?..................................................................................................2 Belinda Huang “How can you govern by killing?”: China and the Death Penalty....................................5 Natasha Stojanovich International Criminal Court: Profound Effects of Procedural Matters...........................7 Hannah Richardson The Iranian Baha’is: A Persecuted Minority........................................................................10 Nick Goodfellow What’s Right with the World Trade Organisation..............................................................12 Devon Whittle Peace and Justice: a Matter of Give and Take?....................................................................15 Emily Long Musings on Feminism............................................................................................................18 Sandra Wendlandt Abortion Rights: A Time for Change....................................................................................20 Thomas Ickeringill Same-sex Equality Reforms: The Role of a Law School Academic..................................23 Miranda Stewart and Anna Whitelaw
Around the Law School
Being Neighbourly.................................................................................................................26 Hui-Chi Goh Mature Age Memoirs..............................................................................................................28 Konstantin Rotarou
Contents Preventing the Vanishing Act................................................................................................30 Courtney McLennan Beyond Collins Street.............................................................................................................33 Jessica Rae and Jenny Jiang Just Run....................................................................................................................................35 Calina Ouliaris
The Eastern Community Legal Centre................................................................................38 Alexis Fong Volunteering at the Environment Defenders Office..........................................................39 Carly Godden Consumer Action Legal Centre: A Volunteer’s Experience..............................................41 Catherine Anderson International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Internship Experience.............................43 Jolien Quispel Northern Land Council: Aurora Project Legal Internship................................................45 Ari Nagar What is it like to live in Australia?........................................................................................47 Mele Ane Havea Volunteering at PILCH...........................................................................................................49 Verena Tan Reflections on Volunteering at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre..............................51 Jessica Liang Adventures with the UN in Timor-Leste.............................................................................53 Jessica Rae The Benefits of Volunteering in a Community Legal Centre............................................55 Jonathan Augustus
Medley Mag: ‘All Wired Up!’ Program................................................................................58 Georgina Dimopoulos Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning Program..........................................................60 Nik Tan
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Contents Community Connect at Clayton Utz....................................................................................62 Clayton Utz Volunteering at Community Legal Centres: Fitzroy Legal Service.................................65 Abigael Ogada-Osir and Mary Quinn Lawyers for a Nuclear-Free World.......................................................................................68 Tim Wright The HIV/AIDS Legal Centre..................................................................................................70 Michael Williams Diabetes and the Coca-Cola Era in Kenya...........................................................................71 David Liew
Volunteersâ€™ Directory 2009
Editorial No Man (or Woman) is an Island Jenny Jiang and Jessica Rae, LSS Equality Vice-Presidents We may be biased, but in our humble opinion, the Equality Handbook is much more than a collection of opinion articles, volunteering experiences and organisational profiles. To call it simply a platform for students to express their views on various current issues does not do it justice either. The Equality Handbook stands for compassion, a compassion that awakens our social consciousness and enlivens our motivation to challenge the status quo. If a single unifying thread is to be found through all of the articles, it is our shared human capacity for compassion. It is compassion that enables us to identify where there is injustice and inequality in our world and it is that same compassion that drives us to try and effect change. As the articles you will read demonstrate, there are countless ways of harnessing the compassion
within all of us to strive for a more equal society. As we collected the articles for the Handbook and read about fellow students helping to provide legal advice to those who cannot afford it, sharing language and communication skills with new Australians, taking a stand against nuclear weapons, it was always their compassion that we were struck by. It lead us to realise that the Handbook is much more than the sum of its parts. The Handbook challenges us to reflect on why we volunteer and take an interest in issues of social justice. Do our contributing authors take on their extracurricular activities only because they are socially beneficial? We believe otherwise. They take on these activities because they enjoy them – because it is enjoyable to contribute to society and strive for justice and equality. Might we suggest that, as humans, we are ‘hard wired’ if you like, to be compassionate and enjoy such activities. This compassion, in its own unique way, is essential to our society. As John Donne put it (albeit in a time of less gender equality), “no man is an island”. Man or woman, we are inevitably tied to all others in the human race and thus, compassion and the desire to lend a helping hand or speak up for the marginalised, comes naturally. With many thanks to our generous sponsor firms, Clayton Utz and DLA Philips Fox, as well as our brilliant contributors, we present to you the Equality Handbook 2009. We hope that you will read on, imagine where your own compassion can take you and be inspired to put those thoughts into action. ■
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Where did all the money go? Belinda Huang, 3rd year Science/Law Imagine this… Five years ago, Lizzy, an 80 year old widow appointed her adult daughter Jill as an enduring power of attorney (effective immediately), to legally manage Lizzy’s financial matters—a task which was previously handled by her late husband. In the last two years, due to her ailing health, Lizzy found herself increasingly reliant on Jill for assistance in weekly duties such as shopping and regular medical checkups. Frustrated with the constant travel and the stress associated with her escalating familial responsibilities, Jill proposed that her mother sell her house, and move in with her own family. The proceeds would contribute to the reimbursement of Lizzy’s expenses, in addition to some minimal rent. Lizzy was delighted at the prospect of living amongst beloved company and the promise that she will be cared for in the remaining years of her life. However, soon after moving in with Jill, her husband and their two teenage children, Lizzy felt a growing discomfort as a result of the family’s poorly-masked impatience with her additional presence. Therefore, in order to minimise her interference with their living habits, Lizzy withdrew to the solace of her allocated bedroom, appearing only where necessary—for meals and medical requirements. In doing so, she lost all contact with society, including her Bridge-loving friends and her other daughter, Maggie.
gage with the proceeds of Lizzy’s matrimonial home. Jill’s initial intention was to waive any further expenses incurred by her mother’s residence and foot the mounting medical bills. In any case, she believed that she would have inherited at least half of Lizzy’s assets under the will and was therefore justified in dipping in early in exchange for her guardianship. Unfortunately, Lizzy suffered a heart attack and subsequently required constant medical attention. She was relocated to a nursing home, where she remained for the remaining years of her life.
While this scenario has an uncanny resemblance to an exam hypothetical, which law students are all too familiar with, regrettably it is only one illustration of a myriad of real life experiences that elderly citizens are subject to everyday in Australia.
“Financial abuse” is defined as “the illegal or improper exploitation or use of funds or resources of the older person” (WHO, 2002). It is one of six recognised types of elder abuse, distinguishable by the nature of the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Lizzy, Jill em- Unlike fraud, “financial abuse” is a term that ployed her position as enduring power of specifically targets the conduct of family attorney (financial) to settle her own mort- members or persons with whom the elder has 2
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a trusting relationship. Lizzy’s scenario above demonstrates one such form of recognised mistreatment within a family care agreement: “using an authorized power of attorney not in the interests of the older person”. Others categories include:
Due to the fact that an overwhelming majority of cases of elder financial abuse involve adult children and friends (and sometimes other “trusted” professionals such as health-care workers, family accountants and solicitors), its occurrence is often unreported for fear of embarrassment, retribution or the threat of ne• taking, misusing or using, withholding glect. This general reticence may also be atknowledge about or permission in regard to tributed to the wider dependence of elders on money and property; their abusers for regular care and assistance • forging or forcing an older person’s signa- so that they may see greater value in preserving the relationship rather than face the harsh ture; realities of isolation. Such vulnerabilities as• misusing ATMs and credit cards; sociated with age preclude older victims from • cashing an older person’s cheque without seeking a multitude of common law remedies permission or authorisation; that may be available through actions includ• misappropriating funds from a pension; ing: unconscionable conduct, undue influence, • getting an older person to sign a will, deed, misrepresentation, and pure economic harm. contract or power of attorney through de- More pertinently, they may seek proprietary remedies such as constructive and resulting ception, coercion or undue influence; trusts. Unfortunately, the cost and time invest• using an authorized power of attorney not in ed into civil litigation may not ultimately be the interests of the older person; worth the stress, emotional harm and quantum • promising long term or lifetime care in ex- of remedy sought. change for money and property and not providing such care; To exacerbate the situation in the public arena, Australia has no nation-wide system in place • denying access to money or property; and for recording incidents of abuse despite indica• getting an older person to be guarantor tions that elder abuse affects up to 5 percent of without sufficient knowledge to make an older Australians (Boldy et al., 2002, Australinformed decision.1 ian Society for Geriatric Medicine, 2003). If Financial abuse is not always perpetrated ma- the Queensland Elder Abuse Prevention Unit liciously, by cold-blooded and deceitful off- is anything to go by, in late 2005, half their spring. Often, family members assume the cases involved financial misappropriation. In role as care giver with honourable intentions, dollar terms—over a two-and-a-half year periyet find themselves taking advantage of the od—their clients recorded a combined loss of elder’s assets, or becoming increasingly care- up to $90 million in Queensland alone.2 less with separating expenses. Other times, a sense of entitlement leads the beneficiaries While the Government is slowly catching up of a will into engaging in some pre-emptive to countries such as Britain and the United estate planning. Anecdotal and case law evi- States in terms of legislative intervention, dence indicates that most care agreements fail overall there is a shameful lack of infrastrucbecause of relationship breakdowns, and un- ture both at the State and Federal level that fortunately, relationship breakdowns are a ma- warrants more parliamentary attention. This is jor risk factor for financial abuse. 2. See the transcript on ‘Financial Abuse of the 1. Julian Gardner, Public Advocate, Victoria, Elderly’, broadcasted on ABC Radio National Submission No. 70, p. 5. See also Advocare on November 6, 2005. Transcript available Inc, Submission No. 71, p. 5; COTA Over 50s, online at <abc.net.au/rn/talks/bbing/stories/ Submission No. 58, p. 3. s1496277.htm>. Equality Handbook
Where Did All the Money Go?
Where Did All the Money Go? even more so in the current fragile economic climate, where the older demographic have the most financial security—around 80% of older people are home-owners and very few have debt – making them easy targets for exploitation. Hopefully, the Elder Abuse Prevention project announced in March 2007 by the Minister for Aged Care Office will introduce more community awareness, accessible services and remedial relief for elderly victims. Furthermore, resources should also be allocated to facilitate better collaboration between departments such as the Office of Public Advocate (whose functions include investigating exploitation, abuse and neglect of people with disabilities) and the Victorian Police for the purposes of early detection and proactive enforcement. Exposing the seriousness of financial abuse against the elderly is only the first step in what may be a long journey ahead. Ultimately, if we are to really protect the dignity and autonomy of our elderly Australians, parliament must be willing to step up and intervene in what is traditionally hidden in the private domain. ■
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“How can you govern by killing?” China and the Death Penalty Natasha Stojanovich, Articled Clerk, DLA Phillips Fox China is the world’s most active executioner. The true extent of China’s use of the death penalty is unknown, as information surrounding the number of people on China’s death row, and the numbers of executions that are carried out annually is considered a “state secret”. The Chinese Government does occasionally however release information about particularly high profile cases, although this is an exception to the rule.
Serious questions have also been raised about whether accused persons in China are receiving fair trials prior to execution. For instance there have been many reports of confessions extorted through questionable “interrogation” techniques, unacceptably brief trials (for instance death sentences being handed down after trials lasting less than an hour), lack of access to effective legal representation and the ever-present spectre of political inference in legal affairs.
For instance in November 2006, China executed the religious leader Xu Shuangfu. Prior to his execution, Xu Shuangfu claimed that he had been subject to torture, including beatings Despite the lack of official information con- with a chain and electric shocks, which he said cerning the exercise of the death penalty, it is led to him making a false confession. The trial possible to gauge a sense of the scale of ex- court and the appeal court both refused to hear ecutions that occur annually. Amnesty Inter- Xu Shuangfu’s allegations of mistreatment as national for instance has reported that at least part of his defence. 470 executions occurred in China last year, however the human rights group suspects that Whilst the use of the death penalty in China the actual figure is undoubtedly far higher. is regrettably extensive, there have been some Some human rights groups have suggested recent developments that indicate a tide may that the actual number is on average as high as be turning in China’s use of the death penalty. 8,000 executions per year. Firstly, a number of legislative changes in reThere are 68 crimes that attract the death pen- cent years have been aimed at increasing scrualty in China, and many of these are non-vi- tiny in the exercise of the death penalty. For olent. Crimes that are death penalty eligible instance, it is now mandatory for all death seninclude: drug offences, fraud, corruption, em- tences to be reviewed by the Supreme People’s bezzlement, arson and prostitution. Up until Court before the execution is carried out. It is relatively recently the killing of pandas was of course difficult, given the degree of state also a crime punishable by the death. When secrecy surrounding executions, to ascertain if executions are carried out, it is by one of two these reforms have led or will lead to a great methods: either by shooting or lethal injec- reduction in the number of executions. tion.
How Can You Govern by Killing? Secondly, several reliable sources have reported there also appears to have been a reduction in the number of executions in the lead up to the Olympic Games. Whilst this may be a temporary reduction, it does indicate that China may be bowing to some of the international pressure relating to the nation’s poor human rights record. One hopes that China can follow the lead of its newly reclaimed territory of Hong Kong, which abolished the use of the death penalty in 1993, and has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Or, that the resurgent popularity of Confucianism, leads to the recall of Confucius’ anti-death penalty stance (over two thousand years ago). It is apt to quote the following dialogue between Confucius and a student, who asked his master “What do you say to killing the unprincipled for the good of the principled?” to which he replied “How can you govern by killing?” ■
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The International Criminal Court Procedure and Fundamental Rights Hannah Richardson, 4th year Arts/Law The term “procedural matter” is not likely to inspire. At first glance, it does nothing to convey the lofty objectives of the International Criminal Court (“Court”). It is not immediately clear how procedural matters are intrinsically linked with ending impunity for the most heinous of international crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity and (when defined) the crime of aggression. Instead, a procedural matter seems, by its nature, to be merely an administrative hurdle—a necessary hoop through which to jump before addressing more substantive issues of guilt or innocence. However, procedural matters are more significant than such an impression would suggest. This article will illustrate how procedure affects the fundamental rights of victims, the accused and, ultimately, the integrity of the Court and the legitimacy of its decisions. Prosecutor v Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (“the Lubanga Case”) provides a suitable example. This case was before the Court during my time as an intern for the Presiding Judge Sir Adrian Fulford in the Trial Chamber earlier this year.
of Congolese Patriots) and its armed military wing Forces Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo (Patriotic Force for the Liberation of the Congo). The case was the first to be initiated at the Court, after the situation was referred by the DRC in 2004. In March 2006, Pre-Trial Chamber I issued a public arrest warrant for Mr Lubanga, who was transferred to the seat of the Court in The Hague, The Netherlands. After being charged with the war crime of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen, Mr Lubanga’s charges were confirmed by the Pre-Trial Chamber in early 2007. Procedure and the right to an expeditious trial Eighteen months later, Mr Lubanga’s trial still has not begun. Less than a month before the scheduled trial date, the Court observed that pursuing this schedule had become “a fool’s errand”. The trial was again delayed. After a wait of now two and a half years, perhaps the
Background to the Lubanga Case The case relates to war crimes which allegedly took place during a civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”) between 1998 and 2003. This was one of the largest wars in modern African history, involving seven other African nations, up to 25 armed groups and depriving an estimated 5.4 million Africans of their lives. Mr Lubanga was the leader of the Union des Patriotes Congolais (Union
ICC: Procedure and Fundamental Rights most striking procedural question is why the progress of the trial has been so slow. Such a delay is arguably inconsistent with the right of the accused “[t]o be tried without undue delay”, enshrined by art 67 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“Rome Statute”).
articulated by the Trial Chamber, but accepted the existence of broad participation rights. Disclosure obligations
Despite these procedural matters raising significant issues for the Court, participants and Although the reasons for the delay defy sim- the accused, the most profound issue to conple explanation, one important factor is that front the Court in the Lubanga Case is that of this is the Court’s first trial. The Court is, as disclosure. Both the prosecution and the deJudge Fulford has described it extra-curially, fence are required by the constituent texts of “a Brave New Court”, and the new issues the Court to provide the other with their eviwhich it must inevitably confront require pro- dence prior to trial. cedures, submissions and discussion—all of Defence disclosure which create delays. As the judge explained, “[w]e have no internal precedents; we are The defence has argued that the accused has constructing our jurisprudence from scratch”. the right not to incriminate himself, and acCertainly, there are many new issues confront- cordingly that the defence has extremely liming the Court that have not been addressed by ited obligations to reveal its evidence or lines other international criminal adjudicators (such of defence. Further, the defence argued that it as the International Criminal Tribunal for the was only required to afford inspection of the Former Yugoslavia). material which it will use in the trial. Finally, Victim participation One novel issue to confront the Court is the proper scope of victim participation. As a modern Court designed to address the most grave of international crimes it seems inadequate to simply declare upon the guilt or innocence of the accused. Rather, the Court strives to provide a forum for victims to vent their grievances as a way of achieving justice in a more holistic sense. Accordingly, art 68(3) of the Rome Statute requires that the Chamber permit victims’ “views and concerns” to be presented and considered during and prior to trial. This raises the difficult question of how victim participation is to be reconciled with the rights of the accused. For example, some would argue that allowing people to claim the status of victim necessarily implies that the accused has committed a crime, thus undermining the defendant’s right to be innocent until proven guilty. The Appeals Chamber has taken a moderate approach to the issue. It confined a wide definition of “victim” previously
the defence submitted that as the issue of admissibility of evidence was only raised at the time of presentation of evidence, it could not provide pre-trial disclosure of admissibility arguments. The prosecution, by contrast, urged the Chamber to adopt an expansive interpretation of the defence’s obligations to disclose.
The Chamber in its Decision on Disclosure by the Defence, handed down on 20 March 2008, noted that defence disclosure was established in the Rome Statute in order to secure a fair and expeditious trial and to assist the Chamber in its determination of the truth. Accordingly, such provisions did not infringe the rights of the accused and the defence should disclose “details of the defences and the evidence to be presented, and the issues that are to arise” during the trial. Witness protection Indeed, disclosure has been a fraught issue as the prosecution has refrained from disclosing witness statements to the defence for fear of endangering witnesses. Although applicaLaw Students’ Society
tions for their protection have been made to the Victims and Witness Unit, some of these have been rejected. Anxious to err on the side of caution, the prosecution has argued that the Unit applied the selection criteria for participation in its protection programme too narrowly. This the Unit objected to—a position that the Trial Chamber concurred with in its Decision on disclosure issues, responsibilities for protective measures and other procedural matters. Exculpatory material
Chamber to maintain the confidentiality of the documents. The defence argued that withholding exculpatory material contravenes its right to a fair trial and requested the Trial Chamber to order a withdrawal of the charges. In reply, the prosecution argued that the Relationship Agreement was authorised and binding on the Court. The Trial Chamber held in June that unless the potentially exculpatory materials were provided so it could evaluate the guilt or innocence of the accused, the defendant would be denied a fair trial. Accordingly, the Trial Chamber indefinitely stayed the proceedings and ordered the accused’s release, declaring that “the trial process has been ruptured to such a degree that it is now impossible to piece together the constituent elements of a fair trial.” An appeal by the prosecution is currently pending.
An even more fundamental issue relates to the prosecution’s obligation to disclose exculpatory material. Article 67 of the Rome Statute enumerates the rights of the defence, including the right to disclosure of evidence that “tends to show the innocence of the accused, or to mitigate the guilt of the accused, or which may affect the credibility of prosecution evidence”—otherwise known as poten- Conclusion tially exculpatory evidence. As these examples illustrate, the term “proceYet the Rome State, by virtue of art 54(3)(e), dural matter” is deceptive. Through discloalso confers on the prosecution a right to make sure, victim participation and delay, procedure agreements with information providers not to raises fundamental questions about the nature disclose evidence they provide. There are no of the right to a fair trial and the appropriate limitations on such agreements except that the balance between rights of the accused and othevidence they cover must be evidence used er legitimate public interests. Far from being “solely” to lead to new evidence—otherwise a purely “administrative” hurdle, procedure known as “springboard” evidence. The stat- reflects an array of complex policy decisions, ute does not indicate which provision is to at times having extensive consequences. In prevail in the event of a conflict between the the Lubanga Case, these consequences have provisions. The prosecution entered into such affected victims—specifically their safety and agreements with the United Nations pursuant participation—the relationship of the Court to the Relationship Agreement with the UN as with other international institutions such as well as with other secret information provid- the UN, the rights of the accused to a fair trial ers. Indeed, the agreements covered all in- and the evolving nature of the Court. ■ formation provided by those sources without that information necessarily being sensitive or springboard in nature. The prosecution has acknowledged that some of the information covered by the agreements is potentially exculpatory. Despite this, some information providers refuse to disclose the information, not only to the defence but even to the judges of the Trial Chamber, regardless of an undertaking by the
ICC: Procedure and Fundamental Rights
The Iranian Baha’is A Persecuted Minority Nick Goodfellow, Master of Public and International Law and Member of Melbourne University Baha’i Society On the 30th of June 2008, six Nobel Peace Prize laureates spoke as one in calling on the Iranian Government to ‘guarantee the safety and immediate unconditional release’ of seven prominent Iranian Baha’is arbitrarily arrested in March and May of 2008. This followed similar statements of concern by the European Union, the White House, the Governments of Australia and Canada, and various international NGOs, including the International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, the Federation for Human Rights, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre. NGOs and Faith Communities in Australia also have expressed their concern. The only “crime” of these seven individuals is that they are members of the Baha’i Faith. Initially held incommunicado, the seven Baha’is continue to be denied fundamental human rights, including access to legal counsel. They join another 14 Baha’is who are currently known to be incarcerated in Iran because of their religious beliefs. As Iran’s largest religious minority (numbering around 300,000), and with an estimated five million followers worldwide, the Baha’i Faith is an emerging global religion that expounds the unity of the human race and essential oneness of the world’s major religions.
The Baha’i Faith is a peaceful religion whose followers practise obedience to one’s government and the laws of the land. Despite this, the government of Iran has pursued a systematic campaign to eradicate the Baha’i community. The religion suffered persecution since its inception in Iran in 1844 but the oppression greatly increased after the Islamic Revolution. Since 1979, more than 200 Baha’is have been summarily executed or killed, hundreds more have been imprisoned, and tens of thousands have been deprived of jobs, pensions, businesses, and educational opportunities. All national Baha’i administrative structures have been banned by the government, and holy places, shrines, and cemeteries have been confiscated, vandalised or destroyed. While intense international pressure over many years gradually halted the violent excesses of the persecution of the Baha’is, in recent years the situation of the Baha’is has again deteriorated as the Iranian government continues to pursue its aim of destroying the Baha’i community. Over the past three years, there has been an official, nationwide effort to identify and monitor all members of the Baha’i community, combined with a campaign of propaganda against the Baha’i Faith in governmentcontrolled media. There has been a gradual increase in the cruel and arbitrary use of power against Baha’is, including revolving-door arrests and imprisonments, widespread and systematic measures to deprive them of employment, pensions, loans and other means
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of livelihood, as well as attacks, intimidation, harassment and discrimination against Baha’is of all ages. Recent months have seen an upsurge in violent attacks targeting the members of the Iranian Baha’i religious minority, their homes and other properties, as well as Baha’i cemeteries throughout the country. Several cases involved physical assault or ill treatment inflicted by detaining officials while individual Baha’is were in custody. Baha’i schoolchildren throughout Iran have been harassed by teachers and school officials in an effort to make them reject their own religion. University students around the world can particularly sympathise with the plight of Baha’i students who, among other human rights abuses they suffer, are denied the right to education. While the Iranian government has reported opening its doors to Baha’i university students, reasons are found to expel them as soon as they are enrolled. For the academic year 2006–2007, the majority of the roughly 200 Baha’is who managed to enrol in Iranian universities had been expelled by the end of the year. For the academic year 2007–2008, almost 800 of the more than 1,000 Baha’is who sat for and properly completed the entrance exam in June 2007 have received word that their files are “incomplete”—thus preventing their university enrolment. Baha’is across Australia hold grave concerns for their fellow Baha’is in Iran who stand resolute in the face of blatant violation of their civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights. With continued international pressure we hope that Iran will abide by its international human rights obligations so that the Baha’is of Iran will be able to practice their religion in peace and contribute to the advancement of their homeland. For more information persecution/iran>. ■
The Iranian Baha’is: A Persecuted Minority
What’s Right with the World Trade Organisation Devon Whittle, 5th year Arts/Law The World Trade Organisation (“WTO”) is perhaps one of the most misunderstood international institutions in the world today. Its 1999 Ministerial Conference in Seattle caused protests with well over 40,000 people in attendance, and was accompanied by violent riots and extreme police repressive action. The WTO is often seen as the harbinger of the worst of roughshod globalisation—destroying communities, cultures and countries in its singular pursuit of free trade. Its benefactors are said to be rich nations who use the WTO to exploit the poor and push their right-wing, anti-development agenda. It is seen as a symbol of all that is wrong with globalisation and international institutions—undemocratic, corrupt and captive to powerful interests, and until recently, my views certainly reflected much of this sentiment. But how bad is the WTO? Does this harsh representation accurately reflect reality? The preamble to the constituent agreement of the WTO, the Marrakesh Agreement signed in Uruguay in 1994, recognises development, equity and sustainability as the goals of the WTO. Interestingly, developing countries dominate the WTO membership, with two-thirds being developing countries and one-fifth classified as least developed countries. So, does the WTO live up to its preamble? Moreover, why do so many countries, particularly developing ones, want to be a part of the WTO trading system?
While it is clear that there are significant failings with the international trading system, and it is in urgent need of serious reform, this is not the full story. The WTO, in fact, embodies some positive principles and developments for the world’s poorest. For us to be effective in criticising the failings of the WTO, we need to be honest and knowledgeable about its successes. To ‘speak truth to power’ we have to know the whole truth. Three elements of the WTO that suggest it is more a force for good than bad are the WTO dispute settlement system, the decision-making/governance structure of the WTO itself, and the benefits of a multilateral trading system compared to bilateral arrangements or protectionism. The WTO Dispute Settlement Board is one of the most powerful and effective dispute settlement bodies in international law. Though it too has had its fair share of criticisms, it is also a tremendously empowering institution for developing nations. The advent of the WTO and the institutionalisation of international trade led to the creation of rules, regulations and laws that provide rights to all members and allow them to assert these rights through the Panel and Appellate Body process. This empowers weaker nations to question the action of their larger trading partners, and developing countries have been using the system. Since 2000, 60% of WTO disputes have been brought by developing countries, and they have also participated as third-parties in many other disputes. While power imbalances remain between countries with the resources to litigate on a scale unavailable to other nations, the mere presence of enforceable rights and a forum in which to realise them has been a genLaw Students’ Society
erally positive development for poorer nations and has provided them with additional leverage to bolster their negotiating position.
the WTO addresses this power-play problem is by creating a multilateral trading system. In the multilateral trading system, the observance of the Most Favoured Nation principle means that when one nation convinces another to lower tariffs, this concession must be applied across the board to all WTO members. Thus, developing nations can benefit from negotiations between powerful players and through negotiating blocs of members that they would be unable to attain if working alone against a major power. In contrast, bilateral trade agreements, such as the infamous Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement, are generally dominated by the powerful country to the detriment of the weaker. As we saw in Australia, the outcome of these agreements is generally lopsided, as the weaker party has no leverage to negotiate against the dominant party. By instituting multilateral deals the WTO provides better trade deals for all nations and simplifies the world-trading regime, thus working in favour of poorer nations.
The decision-making process of the WTO itself also improves the negotiating position of smaller nations. The WTO is in many ways a ground breaking international institution due to its relatively unique consensus approach to decision-making. This means that if one nation disagrees with a decision, it will prevent the decision from going ahead. There is no special veto for some nations and votes aren’t distributed based on member contributions. Rather, each country is given one vote, and consensus must be reached on most decisions. This meant, for example, that during the Uruguay Round of negotiations, the G-90, a group of developing nations, was able to get the WTO to agree to the important Agreement on Agriculture, which was instrumental in lowering tariffs on So, given the above, does the WTO deserve agricultural products. the reputation it has amongst those concerned about social justice? The answer to a large deOf course historically, the decision-making gree is yes. Perhaps not the straw man set out of the WTO has been rightly criticised for its above, but it is certainly true that the WTO informal ‘Green room’ discussions that have has been responsible for a lot of mistakes, and resulted in developed nations collaborating the power imbalances remain between rich amongst themselves to reach decisions with- and poor nations. Developed nations have out input on the part of developing nations. historically pushed for lopsided deals that do However, this problem has been recognised nothing for the developing world, and increasby the WTO Secretariat and steps taken to ad- ingly all nations are no longer willing to make dress this—although there is clearly more to significant compromises during negotiations be done. Importantly, the WTO’s consensus to realise the development potential of trade. decision-making is generally considered much However, if we are to seriously address the more progressive than other institutions such real issues facing the WTO, we also must acas the World Bank or International Monetary knowledge its significant strengths. We have Fund. It provides all nations with the ability to understand the good and potential for good and opportunity to opt out of an agreement embodied within the WTO trading system to and action that doesn’t serve their interests, al- be able to realistically and knowledgeably talk though whether this is realised does depend on about reform. We need to be able to separate the reality of international politics. the institution from its members and focus our energies on making the next WTO round betThe reality of international politics is that na- ter for developing nations. tions will push forward their own agenda when at the WTO negotiating table. The other way
What’s Right with the World Trade Organisation
What’s Right with the World Trade Organisation Ultimately, I’m a WTO optimist. I believe in the ability of freer trade to make the world a better place for the poorest. I believe that proper protections can be built into the system to protect our environment, people and cultures. And I believe that what is needed is reform not revolution. Though you may thoroughly disagree with me on all three counts, I would encourage you to investigate for yourself the reality of the WTO, beyond the rhetoric and headlines. All three areas I’ve outlined above do contain within them significant potential for abuse, which is beyond the scope of this article. Nevertheless, they represent ways in which the WTO can and does work to achieve the goals set out in its preamble and help to explain why it retains such authority in the world today. The WTO isn’t all bad, and by recognising its good qualities, we can work towards making it even better. ■
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An Introduction to the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue Emily Long, 5th year Arts/Law Over the recent winter break I spent two weeks in Geneva with 24 other Melbourne Law School students. We were masterfully (if a little ‘regimentally’) chaperoned by our oracles of international law Bruce Oswald and Andrew Mitchell, with fantastic virtual-support from Tania Voon who was back in Melbourne. The trip—call it a junket if you will—was the practical component of the subject Institutions in International Law (“IIL”). Lucky for us bright eyed disciples, the course essentially involved traipsing around Geneva touting suits and trying to look as professional (or at least as little like mere Undergraduate Nothings) as possible. As we wandered about, we visited a range of international institutions where we heard presentations and engaged in group discussions about the work of these institutions. At some point during the fortnight I agreed, somewhat blithely, to submit a contribution to this Handbook. Weeks later I find myself engulfed by a sense of dread. The submissions deadline looms and still nothing. I wonder what on earth I might say that will be of interest to law students and that will fit within the themes of the Handbook?
Perhaps because of the work that the organisation does, perhaps because I had never heard of it before the trip, or perhaps for both of these reasons and more, it has left quite an impression upon me. The CHD was established in Geneva in 1999 by a handful of staff who, as I understand it, came predominately or entirely from a UN background. The CHD now has around 40 staff and operations in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. The aim of the CHD is to “help alleviate the suffering of individuals and populations caught up in both high-profile and forgotten conflicts, by acting as mediators…, or by providing mediators with the support they need to work effectively”. So the CHD views mediated dispute settlement as an important path to peace in the context of ongoing conflicts, and, it exists because a group of people recognized the need for better and greater provision of such mediation services.
Well, the trip to Geneva seems about as good a place to start as any. If this is the starting point from which I let my mind wander, I find that it settles itself on a small organisation called the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (“CHD”). Equality Handbook
Peace and Justice: a Matter of Give and Take?
Peace and Justice: a Matter of Give and Take? Our visit to the CHD has left behind two nagging questions in my mind. First, why is an organisation engaged in what seems to be such worthy and potentially fruitful work, such a unique and surprising find in the maze of international institutions? Second, what problems are raised by formal mediation of disputes? Namely, to what extent does mediated dispute settlement necessitate a weighing and balancing of peace and justice, and how can we best mitigate the associated losses in respect of either?
to boot—much greater and more comprehensively equipped than the CHD? An institution that is large enough to cater sufficiently for the many disputes of varying scales; to be able to intervene in the pre-escalation phase; to assure member states and affected parties of a certain reliable quality and consistency of services; and, thus, to enjoy legitimacy in the eyes of the international community and so to offer decent prospects of success? The second thought does, I suppose, stem from the first. Whilst ADR is well-regarded for its benefits, it does raise an inherently troubling concept. The question is of course raised by any mediated settlement process, but it does appear to loom larger in the context of resolving international or internal violent conflicts. The question is that of peace versus justice. Mediating a settlement to a dispute is often a question of taking the approach of the next best alternative: we desperately want ‘x’, the other party desperately want ‘y’, but we realise that ‘q’ (peace) is in all of our best interests. Perhaps, then, we should sacrifice some elements of ‘x’ in order to achieve peace? And so essentially the question is: is it ok to sacrifice—or at least compromise—“justice” in order to obtain peace in the short term? And perhaps more controversially, is it OK for organizations, governments, or even mediators, to push for such concessions in the name of peace, when they know that they may be sacrificing justice being done?
The first question comes from the fact that the CHD seemed to jump out at us from nowhere. As a law student of the ‘new millennium’, the novelty of this independent, extraordinarily small organisation (we had, after all, the UN, the WTO and the WHO with which to compare it) seemed incongruous. As law students, we are being educated in a period in which Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) is utterly in-vogue. To prove it, we carry with us collective memories of weeks of lectures comparing the “zealous advocate” with the “settler”, comparing competitive negotiation with consensus-oriented negotiation, and considering the benefits of interest-focused negotiations over position-driven approaches. ADR is a component so entrenched within our law degree that it is beyond being taken for-granted. And it seems to be for relatively sound reasons: an adversarial approach to dispute settlement should not be presumed to be the only or the best—most “efficient”, if you’ll forgive my use of the sometimes irksome term—ap- Take for instance the approach of President Ahtisaari of Finland , mediator in the Aceh proach. peace process that resulted in the Helsinki So if the merits of ADR are so well recognized accord. Ahtisaari is recorded as having imand espoused in the domestic legal setting of posed upon the mediations a very particular countries like Australia, the US, Canada, the tactical approach. His formula was “nothing UK etc, then why is it that such a small or- agreed until everything is agreed”; the time ganisation like the CHD seems to be carry- frame was six months; and, Ahtisaari wanted ing the torch alone in the ever-growing field an agreement that would be “brief and general of international institutions? Should formal in content”. Ahtisaari believed that if the promediation play a larger role in international posed agreement was too detailed, the parties dispute settlement? And if so, should we be “would never reach results”, whereas a “suffiaiming for an institution—and a set of ac- ciently compact agreement gives responsibilcompanying formal and administrative rules ity also to those who implement it and leaves 16
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enough room to interpretation”. This particular approach adopted by Ahtisaari seems to have played a significant role in shaping the course of the dispute settlement process and the ultimate agreement. However, it must be questioned whether it is acceptable for a mediator to wield such enormous power, when there seem to be no rules governing this influence? To what extent did Ahtisaari—if at all—decide on every party’s behalf that peace rather than justice was the short term priority? Stepping back to a broader perspective, in such a situation who is qualified to decide that a sacrifice of justice in the short term might be the best path towards peace in the long term? And if this is an appropriate approach to take, whose ideas of peace and justice should be reflected in such a settlement framework? How, for instance, to avoid this simply amounting to an exercise of the more powerful party disproportionately effecting their own interests? What’s more, can it possibly be as simple as simply sacrificing justice now for peace later? Whilst compromise on the justice front in the short term may contemporarily lead to a settlement, will this simply result in further disputes down the track as matters of discontent simmer below the surface? As I suggested at the beginning of this piece, the prospect of writing a submission for the Handbook instilled in me a sense of doom. I can’t help but wonder what I have to add to the enormous number of words out there already, not to mention offering them to such a demanding audience. However as I thought about it further I realized that the best thing I can do is to share a unique experience and put some puzzling ideas into the minds of others. What I hope I’ve done is spread the word to a few about the existence of the CHD, the work that it does, conveyed the importance of its work and the potential that it offers, and raised some of the issues that necessarily demand attention if this potential is to be meaningfully realised. ■
Peace and Justice: a Matter of Give and Take?
Musings on Feminism Sandra Wendlandt, 2nd year Law I stumbled across a conversation between two young Australian men the other day who were pondering the workings and wonders of feminism. While I was appreciative of their thoughtful engagement (men, talking willingly and voluntarily about feminism!), I was alarmed to find the conversation fraught with boundaries and limitations, with assumptions of space and singular presences. My response to their ponderings arrived in the following fashion:
Those who argue that men who want to be feminists are replacing women in feminism would seemingly suggest that “feminism” engages a finite space. However, I don’t think this is true. This contention, combined with the “progression” argument, would make it seem fairly plausible that the “members” of feminism themselves can also change. By drawing on the existence (or reality) of both the non-linearity of philosophy at one level, and of conclusions at another, the presumption that feminism has progressed to a “postfeminist” state not only falls to its knees, but again assumes that thought processes also follow some sort of linearity.
You have to be careful I think, when you talk about who defines the limits to feminism— I’m not sure that it was ever for “men” to decide what feminism means for women, nor am I convinced by the argument that by being a “male feminist” somehow replaces a space taken on by a woman. If “men” were to “be” feminists, I’m not sure either, that “taking that place from women and speaking in their stead, over them” [emphasis added] is at all part of feminist discourse. At the very crux of feminism is the actual ability for dialogue and actions to take place without this “male” primacy, but that’s not to exclude men from being involved in this process. Being male does not mean that your entry into discourse will always be at a “dominating” level. Arguably, being a male feminist means you would accept and actively engage without this domination occurring and it appears that a lot of ‘feminist “history”’ is indicative of this.
While processes such as legal reasoning encourage you to think about causal relationships between certain “points” in time, I would encourage you to read Zygmunt Bauman’s Liquid Life wherein he writes “modern” life into one that is liquid, a precarious life that might be lived under conditions of constant certainty. Viscous and fluid, such life is one of continual beginnings, narrated frequently without reference to successive (and inevitable) endings. Messy, in a word. Thus, while you might clearly argue that linearity of “feminist states” through “time” is not plausible, so too might you argue that its representatives, its constituent parts are equally non-linear, allowing for the entry of “male” feminists, “transgender” feminists and the like, because people’s thought processes are equally mixed and change as new experiences arrive.
Furthermore, feminism isn’t reserved for “women” per se; it’s about that small but significant step in between—that moment where Law Students’ Society
you pause and realise (in an ideal state)—there is an inequality here. What is it, why does it exist, what could or should be done to ensure that it is resolved and who is the “oppressed” (so to speak)? That the most frequent conclusion drawn that it is “women” who suffer these inequalities, I would argue, is the reason why this step-in-between is often overlooked. The answer is too frequently all the same, so take a shortcut. Of course, there’s another argument to be had about the role of ‘inequality’ and whether it is always a bad thing. To this end I’d draw on Georges Bataille, and his Accursed Share. Of course, the term “feminism” does not have a singular meaning either, nor does it have a singular representation among women. In particular, Mohanty and Spivak are pertinent and passionate scholars (Indian women) who have challenged the (more frequent) singular representation of the “white woman” speaking for the “oppressed and poor third world woman”, which quite obviously is a blatant error, given a whole host of cultural and historical differences. So it points to a multiplicity of feminisms. Couldn’t men also be a form of this too? The work done by subaltern scholars could also represent a form of feminism, or at least draws on similar sorts of critical discourse. Subaltern refers to those who cannot speak (minority groups, untouchables), but upon speaking are no longer subaltern, and hence struggle to gain any sort of political or mimetic representation. I suppose that it’s all just a method of interpretation and of understanding in the world. So, I think that without “men” also engaging themselves as feminists, a state as alienating as the “first world woman speaking for all women without redress” would ensue. Feminists speak more broadly about social relations, not just about the sorry plight of women. If it were purely about women, why isn’t it just “womanism”. I think it’s about representation. ■
Musings on Feminism
Abortion Rights A Time for Change Thomas Ickeringill, 2nd year Commerce/Law Voluntary abortion can take a variety of forms: in early stages, vacuum abortion is usually used, which is where a manual syringe or an electronic pump removes the embryo/foetus and disposes of the body. In some countries, RU486, a drug to induce an early miscarriage, is also often used. After the first trimester, dilation and evacuation becomes the most common method. This is where the abortionist dilates the woman’s cervix, gives her an anaesthetic and then uses forceps to separate the foetus into pieces, carefully removing the foetus’ limbs from the womb. In rare circumstances, during a late-term pregnancy, an abortionist may induce a woman with a variety of drugs to go into early labour and perform what is known as a partial-birth abortion. Here, the doctor cuts the foetus’s skull open in order to remove the brain and collapse the skull, making it easier for the foetus to pass through. Occasionally, an injection of potassium chloride will be injected into the foetus’s heart before the procedure to ensure that he/she is not actually born alive. To call some methods acceptable and other methods not is, in this writer’s opinion, arbitrary: we either accept these procedures, or we do not.
is not a debate about the separation of church and state. This debate is about basic human morality and whether we, as a society, put a greater emphasis on the right to life or the right to choose. This writer believes in upholding the rights of the unborn and this article will attempt to show the injustices of liberalized abortion. In the spirit of equality, all forms of human life—whether embryo, foetus, infant or adult—should, in this writer’s opinion, be granted at the very least one right: the right not to have their life arbitrarily taken away.
It always seems odd that this whole issue is largely perceived to be related to religion. While we should respect and acknowledge the religious aspects of this debate, the issue should, at its most fundamental level, be about basic human rights. You either believe that all human life has the right to be protected, or that it does not. You either believe that we have the right to choose to end a pregnancy, or that we do not. You do not have to be religious to be pro-life and, despite popular belief, abortion
The right to experience life ought to be the most fundamental human right and, with the only possible exception being to save the life of a mother, nothing should interfere with this right. A hypothetical woman in most circumstances has the right to make her own decisions regarding her body, but she should not have the right to take away the life of another. This separate life form is not “her body”. The embryo/foetus is a completely separate human entity and should be granted the legal right to
While we can talk about abortion in abstracts, we can only feel the pain of abortion by personalizing the experience. Imagine not being born. Imagine your parents, for whatever reason, aborting you. It is impossible; even scary. You would not exist and, unless you have a belief in the afterlife, you have probably lost your only chance to live. Life is inherently sacred and we, as fully conscious beings, should not have the right to force our views onto those who cannot express an opinion. In the words of former US president Ronald Reagan: “everybody that is for abortion has already been born”.
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be born. Once life has been created, we as a When it comes to the issue of abortion, many society should do everything we possibly can people who are not passionate about it try to to ensure the survival of that life. find a compromise option. Some argue that relationship issues may not allow for a child to be While most of us accept that murder is gen- brought up in a loving environment and, thereerally unacceptable, some of us come to the fore, abortion is acceptable. Some argue that conclusion that an embryo or a foetus is not socioeconomic factors may require parents to life and is therefore not entitled to the same have an abortion so as to maintain a minimum rights as the mother. Even though this writer level of financial security. Some argue that it is does not believe this, it is still a widely held acceptable to abort if the foetus has defects so view that must be respected. The leading US that the child does not suffer pain or torment. judgment of Roe v Wade uses the notion of The list of commonly held exceptions is ex“viability”: it is unconstitutional to prohibit tensive. However, as soon as we start making a woman from procuring an abortion on any exceptions, we are compromising the value of ground until the foetus is “potentially able to life. The pro-life/pro-choice debate is always live outside the mother’s uterus … with arti- incredibly divisive because it is an issue where ficial aid”. This statement regarding the time no acceptable ‘middle ground’ can be found. at which life supposedly starts is flawed. It does not make sense that a foetus has no rights If the decision to abort is made with the belief up until this point of viability (around 20–24 that it is for foetus’ benefit, it must be stressed weeks by current medical standards) but that, that living a bad life is infinitely better than at some certain date into the pregnancy, the never having the chance to experience life foetus is instantly given the same protections at all. More often, however, the decision to as a person living outside of the womb. abort is a matter of convenience: an unwanted child, in all likelihood, would adversely afWhile infanticide—the practice of intentional- fect a mother’s finances, education, career, ly causing the death of an infant—is frowned relationships or autonomy. The convenience upon by most cultures, it still occurs in some of spending a few hours at an abortion clinic countries. In the Netherlands, for example, compared to spending decades raising a child prosecutors have openly stated that they will is obvious. However, it is unacceptable, in not press charges in cases of infant euthana- this writer’s opinion, to advance a part of our sia: that is, where a hospital puts an infant lives while completely taking away another’s to death if, after consent is given by its par- life. In extreme circumstances, there is always ents, a team of social workers and physicians the legitimate option of adopting a baby out. give their approval (in practice, only if handi- There are thousands of willing foster parents capped or in cases of severe illness). Further- and we should promote their role so that adopmore, in some rural areas of India, the practice tion—not abortion—becomes the acceptable is not uncommon: given a cultural preference method of dealing with incapable parents and for boys (and the incredible expense of girls’ unwanted pregnancies. While adoption is still dowry), some families will kill their newborn not nearly as convenient as an abortion, it is baby girls. These examples are trying to illus- much more noble and something that we as a trate the point that infanticide exists and, tak- community should support with open arms. ing the right to choose to its logical conclusion, it should also be acceptable in Australia. Despite the fact that Victorian anti-abortion A simple question must be asked: where do laws have not been enforced in many years, we draw the line? This writer argues that this the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) (s 65) still explicline should be drawn at conception—not 20– itly prohibits it with a maximum of 10 years 24 weeks, not birth, not after birth—as this is imprisonment. This is due to the ruling of where the process of life begins. Menhennitt J in R v Davidson, who held that Equality Handbook
Abortion Rights: A Time for Change
Abortion Rights: A Time for Change abortion is lawful in circumstances in which the mother’s life or ‘physical or mental health’ is in danger. He explicitly states, however, that this does not include ‘the normal dangers of pregnancy and childbirth’. Menhennitt J’s ruling has been interpreted very liberally and has, in effect, led to abortion on demand. At the time of writing (although this may have changed by the time of publishing), abortion has not been officially decriminalised. It should not be decriminalised and the true and literal meaning of s 65 should, in this writer’s opinion, be applied. It is our duty to uphold the sanctity of human life and not let notions of convenience or selfishness further erode the most fundamental human right. Life begins from conception and we do not have the right to impose our views onto the unborn. It is much easier to empathise with a woman struggling to cope with a pregnancy than it is to empathise with life that we have not seen or touched, but that does not make it any less human. It is time to put an end to this injustice. ■
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The Role of a Law School Academic Associate Professor Miranda Stewart, Co-Director Taxation Studies Anna Whitelaw, Final year LLB, Tax Group Coordinator pert in taxation and superannuation law, was among those who championed law reform for same-sex couples. Taking time out of her schedule as the Co-Director of Taxation Studies at the Law School, Stewart was one of the consultants to HREOC’s inquiry.
Early in 2008, the Federal Government announced it would introduce sweeping law reform to end discrimination against same-sex couples, and their families. Under the proposed changes, same-sex couples will be given equal recognition and rights as opposite sex de facto couples across a wide range of areas of federal law, including superannuation, taxation, social security, health, aged care, employment entitlements, veteran’s entitlements, worker’s compensation and family law. Currently, gay and lesbian couples and their children are effectively invisible under federal law, except for limited recognition as “interdependency relationships” in immigration and superannuation laws. The expected reforms introduced by the Rudd government largely implement the recommendations of an inquiry by the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission (“HREOC”) which found 58 federal laws discriminated against same-sex couples (Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Report of a National Inquiry, 2007). Associate Professor Miranda Stewart, a lecturer at Melbourne Law School and ex-
Already, three reforming Bills have been passed in the House of Representatives in Bills amending Commonwealth superannuation laws and the Judges’ Pension Act 1968, the Family Law Act 1975 and the Evidence Act 1995. These changes will ensure that, like a partner in an opposite-sex de facto couple, a member of a same-sex couple will be entitled to inherit his or her partner’s superannuation, will not be required to give evidence against his or her partner in court, and will be able to access the Family Court to resolve property disputes on relationship breakdown. The Bills also ensure that children of same-sex couples are accorded equal rights through full legal recognition of both parents in a same-sex couple. A further omnibus Bill is expected in the Spring sittings. The reforms, which affect more than 100 federal laws, will take effect by mid-2009. While they have passed the House of Representatives, passage of the amending Bills is not certain, as the government does not control the Senate. The Bills have been referred for inquiry by the Senate Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee. In August 2008, Associate Professor Stewart made a submission to the Committee and gave evidence in Committee hearings. The Committee reports at the end of
Same-sex Equality Reforms
Same-sex Equality Reforms: The Role of a Law School Academic September 2008. It is not clear what the po- of marriage, which is limited to a man and a sition of the Liberal senators or Independents woman. “Unfortunately, there are still those will be on the reform. within the society who resist these changes, and there will always be people who think that Associate Professor Stewart sees supporting way, but the tide is definitely turning.” ■ these reforms as an opportunity to put her research into practice, and to stand up for what she believes in. “I see it as part of my job as a law lecturer and researcher, as well as a moral duty, to engage actively in law reform debates and to participate in processes to improve the law on issues that are important. This is a useful function that law lecturers can play,” says Stewart. “I was able to put my academic research on recognition of same-sex families in tax and superannuation law to good use in assisting HREOC with its report and providing expert assistance to the Senate committee.” These reforms are important because they will treat same-sex and opposite sex de facto couples equally under federal law. Stewart explains that “they end discrimination, bringing Australia into line with its international obligations and the law of many other comparable nations, and ensure that Australian federal law treats couples consistently with the law of all states and territories. As the government is also legislating to bring de facto couples into the federal family law regime, this is crucial to prevent same sex couples actually losing rights they have already attained at state level.” The reforms send an important symbolic message about equality and against homophobia and discrimination, but they will also make a tangible difference to the lives of many samesex couples and their children, including in respect of ensuring equal entitlement to superannuation, tax concessions and workers compensation. Stewart explains, “Same-sex couples will also bear financial costs, for example they will be accorded equal treatment with respect to income tests for social security benefits. The goal is equality in all respects.” Although the reforms are huge step forward, Stewart acknowledges there is still a way to go. The reforms will not affect the definition
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Around the Law School
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Being Neighbourly Hui-Chi Goh, 4th year Arts/Law, LSS Environment Officer When considering the environment, the law the Melbourne Law School, Deacons Lawand the Law School, question marks quickly yers, the Victorian Bar and the Environment emerge: The environment and the law are Defenders Office. The keynote forum, held compatible? We have an environment portfo- in October, was a retrospective of Commonlio in the Law Students’ Society? What does it wealth v Tasmania (the ‘Tasmanian Dams’ do? Do we even have law students interested Case)—yes, that case from Constitutional in environmental issues? Law—and featured Justice Habersberger of the Victorian Supreme Court, Professor Barry I was admittedly quite apprehensive about the Jones AO and Ms. Karen Alexander. All had level of interest that law students would have been closely involved in the controversy over in the environment for, once again, I admit to the Tasmanian government’s plans to dam the having the perception of law students being Franklin River. Justice Habersberger had actexclusively focused upon their studies so that ed as one of the counsel in the case, Professor they can secure that elusive job. However, I Jones had served as the Minister for Science do believe that environmental consciousness in the Hawke government and Ms. Alexander is alive in law students, perhaps not to the ex- was an environment activist who had a signifitent where it is alive and kicking, but it is defi- cant role in coordinating the anti-dam protests nitely present. There are students here (and They were most ideally placed to be our winnot necessarily of the Arts/Law breed) who dow into the past, an insight into the social, are involved in a wide range of environment legal and political turmoil that surrounded one related pursuits, such as the Future Sustain- of the biggest environment controversies in ability Leadership Program, the Environment Australian history. Defenders Office and Engineers without Borders, to name a few. Other encouraging signs Other activities organised by the Environment are to be found in the dramatic increase in the Portfolio were the ‘An Eye on the World’ Ennumber of enrolments for the subject “Envi- vironmental Film Festival and group dinners ronmental Law” and in the warm reception for environmentally-minded students. There towards the newly created “Legally Green” Environmental Law Seminars. Briefly, these seminars were designed to deepen the law student body’s interest and understanding of current environmental law issues, and to learn how the law has a vital role in regulating the management of our environmental resources. Held at various points through the year, the topics discussed included climate change litigation and public interest environmental litigation, and featured speakers from 26
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had been an attempt to run some conservation trips, but owing to assignments and bad weather, these had to be called off. The film festival essentially featured a selection of films that explored a range of environmental and social issues that faced the global community, such as the privatisation of water resources and the granting of oil drilling rights in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.
weary of hearing it. Instead, I would suggest that we owe it to ourselves, and to each other, to ensure that each one of us has a liveable and viable environment to live and work in, for the purposes of leading peaceful and healthy lives. We all should be neighbourly. To me, that is the crux of environmentalism. ■
While there is certainly a degree of interest in environmental issues in the Law School, I think that it should be an interest that extends to the general student populace. Over the years that I have considered myself to be an environmentalist, I have found that people who are interested in environmental matters tend to be labelled as “hippies”, “tree-huggers”, “radicals”, “new-age”, left-leaning, corporateworld-damning individuals who would have us recede into a lifestyle without our modern day conveniences. Conversely, people who are not particularly interested in environment matters are considered to be the oh-so-evil moneygrabbing folks who seek to exploit the Earth’s resources for profit. We also have the tendency to use the person’s field of study to categorise the person’s character: “You are Arts, therefore you are left, you are hippie, and you are radical”. Or it could be “You are Commerce, therefore you are right, you are a lover of corporations, profits, and you are greedy”. And it would be quite a surprise to an Arts student to find that there is a Commerce student interested in environment matters. To me, there is no need for such categories, stereotyping or labelling—if anything it creates unnecessary antagonism and prejudice between individuals. Having an interest in environmental matters is something that should be common to us all and should not be restricted to particular individuals who advocate particular philosophies. But in making this statement, I do not turn to the usual terms in which this argument is presented, for instance, climate change, rising temperatures, melting icecaps and drought, for I think that these have been mentioned so often that one has simply grown Equality Handbook
Around Law School
Around Law School
Mature Age Memoirs Konstantin Rotarou, 3rd year Law, LSS Mature Age Students’ Officer I have had the distinct pleasure and honour to be the Mature Age Students’ Officer on the Melbourne University LSS Committee this year. Looking back at my experience I would like to reflect on a few moments that have raised particularly important questions. The first one is who on earth are mature age students?
special needs, as well as what has been done to address them, have been identified below. Work-Family/University Dilemma
Mature age students can be very serious about their studies and make good academic progress. It is extremely important, however, to become According to the survey that was conducted at very skilful in juggling different commitments The University of Melbourne in 2006, mature and be an efficient time manager. age students are those over 23 years of age and Mature age students require a degree of flexnot coming to university straight from school. ibility from the Faculty that allows them to They may be middle-aged students coming pursue their course and maintain other comback to study after raising children; students mitments to work and family. This year it who had no prior opportunity to study at tertihas been particularly challenging for them to ary level; students undertaking a second unachieve this given the significantly reduced dergraduate degree immediately following number of subjects that use the i-Lecture fatheir first or professional people studying to cility. upgrade their qualifications. Currently the Melbourne Law School mature age populace consists of students belonging to both LLB and JD programs. I should stress at the outset that the LSS Mature Age Officer works for the benefit of both LLB and JD cohorts.
I have been a point of call for questions and problems for mature age students. This has required me to negotiate with the Faculty administration and all of the issues relating to their studies have been successfully resolved. It is important to bear in mind however, that students who continue their education in 2009 and beyond should be prompt in contacting their mature age representative or administration about their problems to enable efficient resolutions.
Since the discontinuation of the LLB intake to the Melbourne Law School in 2007, the proportion of mature age students is set to grow and thus the special needs of these students should attract increased attention from both Furthermore, we have continued to operate the the Faculty administration and student socieBuddy-Mentor system, which was launched ties. in 2005. It offers early year mature age stuWhat are the special needs that mature age stu- dents access to a personal mentor who can be dents may have? Some of the most important contacted to explain the inner workings of the Law School—where it is possible to take short
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Mature Age Memoirs mature age LLB students are somewhat different from their JD colleagues and thus do not have much in common. I think this is a great mistake as the students from both cohorts share similar life experiences. Nowadays, chances are very high that the person sitting next to Graduate Employment you with their cappuccino is in fact a JD or mature age LLB student. Why don’t you reach The graduate market poses particular chalout and say hi? It just takes this extra step to lenges for mature age students, who often, form a friendship that you may carry with you with their full-time work or family committhroughout the rest of your professional life. ments, are unable to participate in the seasonal clerkship programs. For some firms it is still Therefore, it cannot be stressed strongly an unwritten rule not to recruit graduates who enough how important it is to participate in the have not done seasonal clerkships with them. widest range of practical and social activities This puts additional pressure on mature age run by the LSS—BBQs, competitions, Law students to virtually bend over backwards to Ball, Trivia Nights, and a plethora of interestbe able to catch the eye of the picky law firms’ ing professional seminars and programs, etc. HR representatives. The Mature Age portfolio, on its part, has orIn this respect, given the growing number of mature age students it seems essential for the Faculty administration to raise awareness of this problem at all levels and pressure for changes to be made to existing practices. The Mature Age portfolio has been in contact with the Law Institute of Victoria’s Later Lawyers Network and will continue to lobby the interests of our students in the graduate market in the future. Social Life Mature age students are notorious for their low level of engagement in the University’s social activities due to lack of time and high pressure from study and other commitments. This may lead to isolation and lack of connection with fellow students, which may come at a cost down the track when they enter the profession. As many of you would know very well, success is often determined not only by what you know but also by who you know.
ganised events specifically catered for mature age LLB and JD students where they have had the opportunity to mingle with fellow students as well as meet practicing lawyers and articled clerks. Overall, being the Mature Age Officer has been a fulfilling and enjoyable experience and I would like to thank all the LLB and JD students for your support. Also, my special thanks go out to the Faculty Mature Age Liaison Officer, John Tobin who has been a good friend for several generations of mature age students and Associate Dean Maureen Tehan for her compassion and support. ■
Apart from absolutely unwarranted suspicion towards the so-called ‘school leavers’ it has been shocking to hear excuses from some students for their low level of interaction, even with other mature age students, such as that Equality Handbook
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cuts, what subjects are most feared, where to get good notes etc. In addition, I provided individual consultations to mature age students on various areas of their student life.
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Preventing the Vanishing Act Courtney McLennan, 3rd year Arts/Law, LSS Women’s Officer Women lawyers are underrepresented at the top echelons of law firms – but change is approaching through initiatives such as mentoring programs, and the support is coming from the firms themselves.
24 July this year at DLA Phillips Fox’s Melbourne offices. The initiative aims to facilitate discussion between female legal professionals and female law students, opening avenues for consideration of a wide range of topics including seasonal clerkship and traineeship appliFrom the first days of entering law school, cations, work-life balance and mentors’ indilaw students are posed with the now familiar vidual experiences as barristers and solicitors question from family and friends: “So, what in firms of all sizes. do you want to do with your degree?” However, among readings, assignments and ex- Indeed, when a program comprising 86 menaminations, law students can lose sight of the tors receives around 400 expressions of inultimate goal at the end of higher education terest from potential mentees, it is clearly a – employment. For a student confined to the much-needed, and highly sought after, proacademic rigours of law school, it can be diffi- gram. In Lawyer2B, Laura MacIntyre wrote cult to find accessible information on a career that ‘demand’ for women mentors within the in the law that will best suit their talents and legal profession continues to exceed ‘supply.’ professional objectives. Chief Justice Neave states that ‘the benefits of The Victorian Women Lawyers (VWL) and mentoring are widely acknowledged, particuWomen Barristers Association (WBA) Law larly in the legal profession. Career progresStudents Mentoring Program was launched by sion, the culture of law firms and work-life balthe Honourable Justice Marcia Neave AO on ance are among the hot topics that female law students are concerned about and that practitioners deal with on a daily basis.’ Joanna Harris, a mentor with the VWL and WBA program, and solicitor at boutique firm Brand Partners Commercial Lawyers, says “women are great multi taskers, lateral thinkers and creative solution finders both in managing families and careers, but…it is not possible to do both long term unless there is effective work-life balance and also a balancing of the fam30
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Preventing the Vanishing Act
As a single parent, Ms Harris has witnessed firsthand the fact that a career in the law ‘creates additional challenges for single parents.’ She says “as a single parent for most of my career, I found work-life balance in a smaller firm, where I can attend to the needs of my two children, whether that be medical appointments, school functions or just basketball sewell as flexible working hours. Ms Hannebery lection trials, without sacrificing a full-time notes that the Women’s Network allows womcareer in the law.” en lawyers in the firm to get to know other women from different practice groups, as well Ms Harris’ employment has allowed her to as attending social functions for networking. maintain this balance but stresses that “this has only been achievable [through] open com- Maddocks has been cited for five consecumunication with my employer.” tive years as an EOWA Employer of Choice for Women, a prestigious award which places She says that her female employer, a mother Maddocks alongside selected large firms and is of three children, is very supportive of this governed by strict criteria as to maternity leave work-life balance in order to allow “employ- and maintaining a supportive culture with the ees to properly attend to their families’ needs.” firm. Ms Hannebery is especially proud of the However, Ms Harris also notes that “employ- fact that Maddocks’ “percentage of return over ees should give back to the firm by using their the past 3 years has been between 98 and 100 time at the office and leave entitlements effi- per cent returning from maternity leave, most ciently.” women lawyers choosing to return on a parttime basis. We have been able to accommoBut how to find the “right” work-life balance? date women’s requests for part-time and flexMs Harris concedes that “finding that balance ible work arrangements.” In short, law firms is the primary challenge of most women in proare looking towards flexibility as a method of fessional careers and it can only be achieved retaining their talent—and it certainly appears with the support of employers.” to be successful. From a firm’s perspective, Mary Hannebery, Human Resources Consultant at Maddocks agrees. Maddocks have achieved this worklife balance by putting in place initiatives such as the Women’s Network and incentives like paid maternity leave in order to not only attract women to the legal profession, but to retain them and allow for career progression as
In Australian law firms generally, however, more can be done to accommodate women lawyers, says Suzanne Tinkler, a mentor and Senior Associate in Commercial Litigation who has worked at Maddocks for ten years. With two young children aged two and four, Ms Tinkler says that finding balance in her “hectic” life “can be a bit of a juggle.” 31
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ily responsibilities between parents and/or extended family.”
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Preventing the Vanishing Act She says that she “enjoys doing both: I enjoy being with my kids and working.” But it certainly “helps when you have a work place which is supportive—which Maddocks is.” Ms Tinkler relies on resources such as computers and her BlackBerry to work from home on occasions and remains flexible about the division between home and working life. These resources have meant that “interacting with clients is a lot easier these days.”
there needs to be a wider commitment to supporting female lawyers. “There still needs to be the flexibility and acknowledgement of work-life balance. It is moving in that direction but it needs to be generally acknowledged by the profession,” Ms Tinkler says.
Indeed, our generation of female law students have a distinct advantage. Mentoring proAs an Arts and graduate Law student while at grams, such as the VWL and WBA program, university in Adelaide, Ms Tinkler says that Ms Tinkler notes, enable students to “gain an she would have enjoyed the opportunity to insight into what it is like ten years ahead into speak with a mentor about her legal career: “I their careers, and to be able to pick someone’s would have loved more information! If you brains to see what it is like in practice and othwere lucky you would get a paralegal job, but er areas of the law.” In short, it is an informal information about firms was very much word opportunity “for the mentee to be able to ask questions and seek guidance,” which was unof mouth.” precedented in previous years. As for the benefits of mentoring a law student, Ms Tinkler says that it “helps you get a better Change within law firm culture is certainly insight as to how people younger than you are occurring and supportive programs to aid women lawyers’ career progression are availthinking and keeps you in touch.” able. Mentoring programs are proving to be a Further support for women within firms, par- crucial link between law school and the legal ticularly through mentoring programs, is need- profession. ed to prevent the “vanishing act” of women in the early years of their legal careers. VWL Indeed, with all this information on offer, Convener Christine Melis noted in Lawyer2B mentees’ answers to the question “So, what do that while over “70 per cent of law graduates you want to do with your degree?” need not are female … less than 20%” of partners in be an uninformed one, and with the support of law firms are female. “Women are dropping employers, the “vanishing act” may soon be off at certain stages after about three to five overcome. ■ years,” says Ms Melis. Ms Tinkler agrees that firms can do more to support women employees. “There still needs to be a change in the mindset of firms in terms of work-life balance. There has been an entrenched belief that lawyers need to be there all the time and hours can be long,” she says. However, change is approaching. Ms Tinkler points out that there is increasingly a “slow acknowledgement” within firms that part-time employment in the law “can be done.” Thus, throughout the legal profession, while firms are increasingly adopting initiatives, 32
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Jenny Jiang and Jessica Rae, LSS Equality Vice-Presidents The Beyond Collins Street Seminar Series are aptly named for their focus on careers beyond corporate law. While there are plenty of posters, pens, post-it notes, highlighters and carrier bags that showcase a spread of potential corporate careers, alternatives do need to be canvassed and highlighted—otherwise we, as law students, miss out on seeing the full picture of where our law degrees can take us. The series this year presented a range of speakers from diverse fields, with each of the four seminars exploring a specific theme.
Community Sector” session. Hugh de Kretser, the Executive Officer of the Federation of CLCs provided a candid account of his move from the corporate world into the community sector. While it did involve a significant financial sacrifice, it was inspiring to hear about his reasons for choosing to work with those who have difficulties accessing our legal system.
“Careers in the International Arena” featured Phoebe Knowles, with experience at the Special Court of Sierra Leone, Shanta Martin, the Mining Ombudsmen at Oxfam, and Lia Kent The “Careers in Government” session fea- with Human Rights experience overseas. All tured Melissa Bray from the Department of three emphasised that one had to be proacForeign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and John tive in finding and creating opportunities to Cain from the Victorian Government Solicitor. work overseas. Interestingly, both Shanta and Each spoke about the interesting mix of pub- Phoebe had worked with Collins Street law lic policy and law that a job with the govern- firms, and confirmed that even those workplacment involved. While they acknowledged that es had provided them with the scope to pursue the competition for graduate positions within their interests in human rights and community these departments was tough, we were given legal work. helpful tips on how to make our applications The series culminated with a cocktail evening stand out. featuring the Honourable Justice Marcia The “Careers in the Environmental Sec- Neave and her associate, Toby Mullen. The tor” touched on a broad range of topics, with Judge provided us with a glimpse of a posspeakers Mary Anne Hartley, the director of sible career path in the future, while her asMelbourne Water, Libby Bunyan, Solicitor sociate gave us a unique insight into a more with Native Title Services Victoria, and Dick immediate career option. The formal part of Gross, founder of the Consumer Credit Centre the evening was followed by food and drinks, and former mayor and councillor of St Kilda. enabling students to mingle with the speakers One of the key messages that emerged from and ask any remaining questions. this session was that law could be utilised in the quickly growing environmental sector in a The overall, and perhaps somewhat clichéd, message from the culmination of the series myriad of ways. was that a law degree can open up an abunA panel representing Community Legal Cen- dance of career opportunities in front of us. tres (CLCs) presented at the “Careers in the While this can at times be overwhelming, the Equality Handbook
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Beyond Collins Street message from those who have gone before is that one does not have to stick to the initial path chosen, whether this be “Collins Street” or some other. All our speakers provided us with good examples of individuals who have ended up in places they never thought they would, but were simply following their passions and interests in a quest for a satisfying career. ■
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Calina Ouliaris, 4th year Commerce/Law Just Run is The Melbourne Law School’s 2008 Melbourne Marathon Team running to raise money for social justice causes. In its pilot year this year, Just Run hopes to develop into a law school tradition in future years, spreading social justice awareness and raising funds for a charitable cause. It aims also to foster greater interaction among students and academic staff, and encourage active lifestyles for healthy minds and bodies.
I will be inflicting cruel and unusual punishment upon myself and will no doubt endure (or not) much pain and suffering. I have no illusions about that. So how did I, a non-runner, get myself into this; and why? Well, it kind of just happened, and why not?
Let’s stereotype a law student. Come on, I’m thinking: laptops, glasses, well-dressed, libraries, cafes and dare I say uptight … any of those resonate with you? Come October 12th, I’ll be proud to challenge such stereotypes alongside more than 20 students and academics from the Law School. We’ll be decked out in sports gear, matching dri-fit shirts and running the Melbourne Marathon to raise money for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (“ASRC”, see <asrc.org.au>), the largest provider of aid, advocacy and health services for asylum seekers in Australia.
You see, the best thing about running is doing it alongside others who understand what you’re going through. You get to moan about assessments, catch up on gossip and groan about the aches and pains of training, and motivate each other on down days. Yes, it is time The idea of “Just Run” is just to run, jog, or consuming, but it is also extremely invigoratwalk 5.5 km, 10km, 21.2km or 42.195km. In ing, and the time outdoors keeps you focused the wise words of the late running legend Ste- indoors. When you’re constantly controlling ve Prefontaine, “A lot of people run a race to your mind and challenging your body, you besee who’s the fastest. I run to see who has the come stronger, inside and out. most guts.” Speed and distance is irrelevant, as long as you are constantly challenging and In setting up Just Run’s pilot team this year, I selected the ASRC as our 2008 charity of racing yourself. choice because of my previous volunteer exI am not a runner, nor do I particularly enjoy perience there. When I “hit the wall” on my running. Yet in the past year I’ve clocked up longer Sunday runs, I often think of the asyfive 10K+ races, a half marathon on The Great lum seekers I met while working at the ASRC Ocean Road and will attempt the Melbourne – the incredible hardships they survived, and Marathon, yes, all 42.195 km on October 12. the strength of their spirits. It is then that the Equality Handbook
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nagging ache in my thighs or creeping cramp in my right side seems child’s play in my mind, and amazingly, begins to feel negligible. Just Run has already raised over $1200 in the first fortnight, and with a member base building up and a month to go, we hope to reach a grand target of $10 000. Please visit <sites. google.com/site/umljustrun/Home> for more information and look under “List of Participants” to join us or support our cause. “You only get to negatively affect your DNA.” 10 K Truth Runner Manciata’s explanation for why some people can’t run a marathon. ■
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The Eastern Community Legal Centre Alexis Fong, 3rd year Commerce/Law
The Eastern Community Legal Centre (“ECLC”) is an independent organisation that provides free, accessible legal services to disadvantaged members of the community in the Eastern region of Melbourne. It aims to identify and address issues of inequality and injustice that plague our legal system in the hope of empowering clients to meet their legal needs within a community development framework. While providing legal services to individuals, the ECLC also undertakes work beyond the individual, working with communities to initiate legal education and law reform projects. As a volunteer receptionist day worker, I am often the first port of call for those contemplating legal assistance. It is therefore my responsibility to make appropriate referrals for the clients once enquiries are conducted over the phone to identify the relevant legal issues. As the centre operates on an appointment based system, it is a rare occasion that people will spontaneously drop in, giving the solicitors ample time to prepare for their scheduled appointments. Amongst booking appointments and phone referrals, I am also required to carry out general administrative duties such as data entry, opening client files and assisting the duty lawyers. Performing these tasks is not only important to understanding how the organisation operates, but also to maintaining procedural standards.
tion. An ability to deal sensitively with people from a variety of backgrounds is therefore imperative. Moreover, where there exists a conflict of interest between opposing parties or matters we cannot assist with, it can also be a testing task to turn clients away. Despite these challenges, the many undulations met in a day’s work become rewarding experiences once they are resolved. It is often very comforting to know that you have assisted the client in some way, either by helping them take the first step to understanding their rights or providing them with alternative solutions to their problems. What I enjoy most about working at the centre is the invaluable opportunity it provides to work in close proximity with the solicitors as well as interacting directly with the clients. Being involved in practical legal matters promotes a sense of commitment to a team dedicated to providing clients with advice on available options and choices to empower them to take control. ■
The centre gives advice mainly in the areas of family law, intervention orders, criminal law, neighbourhood disputes and debt related matters. In light of this, one of the main challenges is to retain professionalism in the midst of distraught clients who require urgent atten38
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Volunteering at the Environment Defenders Office It is a common occurrence with many law students in their last few years to come to the realisation that juggernaut called ‘the beginning of my working career’ is looming ever closer by the day. And with a slight fluttering of the heart the student realises that they are still largely in dark about where exactly they want to end up. Sure, the student can point the finger at categories the various areas of law they find interesting (International law, Torts’ etc), but key career decisions such as whether to go into practice (and then which firm? Top-tier, mid-tier?) or alternative fields such as policy work remain undecided. At least that was how I was feeling the beginning of last semester. So how to get a taste of working in a legal organisation without actually working there— volunteering! And so it was that I began volunteering once a week with the small but friendly bunch at the Victorian Environment Defenders Office (“EDO”) in the lovely Green Building. I choose to volunteer there partly because it is a Community Legal Centre (“CLC”), which means it is constantly engaging with the wider community. But I was particularly drawn to the EDO because it is the only CLC that specialises exclusively in public interest environmental law. Furthermore, the activities that the EDO are involved in are considerably varied. A fair portion of their work involves providing members of public and environmental interest groups with legal advice and education on environmental law matters, a system Equality Handbook
of ‘helping others to help themselves’, so to speak. However, occasionally the EDO does provide representation for cases which they believe will test uncertain and emerging areas of environment law. Additionally, the EDO is concerned with environmental policy and law reform. They assess developments in Victorian and Commonwealth environment and planning law and often make submissions to Government relating to existing and proposed legislation. Thus, this breadth of activities undertaken by the EDO provides opportunities for volunteers to engage in many different types of legal work, which is very useful if, like me, you are still unsure where your legal career may be headed. So what kind of things do you do as a volunteer? Yes, sometimes you will be asked to do tasks that are not so interesting, such as posting letters and delivering documents. However, most things that you do will draw upon the skills you have acquired in your law degree. Some of the work I have undertaken includes researching, reading and summarising case law, assessing government reports and policy documents and even finding out about procedural matters. It can be concerned with investigating the very nitty-gritty dynamics of environmental law. For example, in helping out a solicitor put together the submissions for a case that concerned provisions in the Environmental Protection Act 1970 (Vic), I was required see if the meaning of a particular section could be ascertained by searching through Parliamentary Hansard that discussed sections of the Act and reasons for amendments, right back until 1970. Alas—nothing was said about the meaning of the section! 39
Carly Godden, 4th year Arts/Law
Volunteering at the Environment Defenders Office
Other tasks have required me to think about much broader matters in environmental law, such as one I was recently involved in that required me to investigate indigenous management of natural resources in Victoria. Answering the phones is another interesting exercise because you never know who might be on the other end and what their story might be. Quite frequently it will be an individual referred on from VCAT who has some minor planning issue which actually has very little to do with public interest environmental law, more often than not a complaint about their neighbourâ€™s fence or tree! Nevertheless, handling these types of matters is actually very good experience in dealing with the wider public and is a great confidence-building exercise. And finally, you might be wondering what the perks of volunteering at EDO are, apart from that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that you are helping out a small underfunded not-forprofit organisation? Well, I definitely think the reward is much greater than simply adding it your resume for the benefit of some future job opportunity. The number of people in the environmental law field is still relatively small (although it is an continuously expanding area) and volunteering within this field, particularly at the EDO, puts you in contact with many of these individuals and groups. In fact, a number of the solicitors at EDO were originally, many years ago, EDO volunteers. Furthermore, because it is a small organisation, you get to take on more complex and interesting tasks than a typical clerkship. All in all, this experience has made me realise that simply getting involved in organisations in the environment and public interest law field can be just as important to your understanding of how the law works, as dare I say it, what you learn in a textbook! â–
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Consumer Action Law Centre A Volunteer’s Experience Catherine Anderson, 5th year Arts/Law
Consumer Action is not your typical innersuburb, open-to-the-public community legal centre. One of the distinctive features of this Law Centre is its policy focus. Funded jointly by Victorian Legal Aid and Consumer Affairs Victoria, Consumer Action pursues law reform initiatives concerning a range of consumer issues, particularly in the areas of credit and debt, product standards, and fair-trading. Although it was formed only two years ago, in a merger between the Consumer Credit Legal Service and the Consumer Law Centre of Victoria, Consumer Action has already undertaken a wide range of campaigns on a governmental level, in the media, and directly within the community. Not only does Consumer Action draw attention to issues in the newspapers or on television, it also provides fact sheets and educational publications on its web site,
and conducts studies and research into consumer issues. Of course, a key aim of community legal centres is to assist in providing access to justice, and Consumer Action doesn’t fall down on this hurdle. Consumer Action provides a fulltime free legal advice service, so that any person in the State can call or email and hopefully receive some reassurance, as well as practical legal advice. In addition, Consumer Action takes on Victorian clients, representing the most vulnerable consumers against companies who thought they could take advantage of individuals just because they earned low incomes, were unfamiliar with English, or did not have university educations.
One recent success involved a young mother of two small children, who believed, when she signed them up for self-defence classes, that she was organizing a direct debit with the self-defence academy to pay for the lessons. Instead, she was entering into a direct debit contract with another company, which bound her to make payments for one year, whether or not the self-defense classes were provided, and with no power to terminate the contract. Consumer Action alleged that the contract 41
We all know the drill: start law school, start resume-packing. What do we think will impress law firms the most? But an experience common to so many legal volunteers is that once they become involved in their self-serving, CV-building volunteer activities, they start to—yech—care. They get inspired by the incredible groups of people who have dedicated their careers to correcting community injustice using their legal skills. They start to enjoy feeling as though they are making a contribution, making a difference in people’s lives. At the Consumer Action Law Centre (“Consumer Action”), a community legal service that helps vulnerable Victorian consumers protect themselves from the companies that we all deal with daily, that feeling of fulfilment becomes a common part of the volunteer experience.
Consumer Action Law Centre: A Volunteer’s Experience contained unfair terms under the Fair Trading Act and, after a VCAT hearing, the credit provider offered a settlement that released the client from all liability. Consumer Action saved the client a great deal of distress, and around $1500.
A volunteer at a specialist law centre doesn’t have the same experience as a typical community legal centre. There are no confronting encounters with walk-ins, or being expected to give legal advice in an area you’ve never heard of. A great deal of a volunteer’s time is spent on legal research, searching through case databases, or looking for legal arguments to strengthen a client’s case. There is also client interaction through the legal advice service, taking down the relevant facts given by callers so that solicitors can return their calls and advise them. This is always entertaining, as there is such a variety of potential clients – you never know who the next caller will be. Volunteering at Consumer Action also provides the opportunity to become familiar with the processes at various legal organisations – I can now perform company searches at ASIC, file documents at VCAT, and find the Supreme Court Prothonotary’s Office without having to ask for directions (“You’re looking for Wilson’s Promontory?” “No, the Pro-Tho-Notary!”). Although we’re still not qualified to represent the clients, volunteering at Consumer Action has shown me that this doesn’t mean law students can’t offer much-needed help and support. Volunteers keep community legal centres like Consumer Action going; even a resume-packer has got to be pretty impressed with that. ■
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International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Internship Experience Jolien Quispel, 5th year Arts/Law
I personally had the luck to be in the right place at the right time, although to qualify that this was following a quick escape from Kenya where I happened to show up at the wrong place at the wrong time, that is, the day before the December elections that left a quarter of a million people displaced and several tragically killed in post-election violence.
net connections, but over the course of several days in which we remained in regular contact it appeared that the chances of an internship materialising were positive. As someone once told me, the fact that such bureaucracies are so slow and overburdened means that they are generally understaffed and in need of people, so just turning up can work to your advantage. I ended up being offered placements in both Defence and Chambers— both of which offered their own opportunities, experiences and challenges. I opted to work in Chambers, and this was the beginning of an incredible life-learning experience that is still hard to put into words. The work itself varied considerably and this also depended on the supervisor. Nevertheless, the subject matter, although often depressing in the extreme, taught all of us a lot in only a short space of time—especially how important it is to keep a balanced outlook and perspective.
After waiting out the tide of instability for a week over New Year my plan to do an internship in Nairobi was abandoned and I headed up to Arusha, Tanzania, the seat of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (“ICTR”). My intention was to see if I could arrange an internship but I figured that, if nothing else, I would be able to witness an International Criminal Tribunal in action and see firsthand Being exposed to the details of some of the how this UN body went about its work. most horrific crimes ever committed—those As is common for such large bureaucracies, everything takes time and persistence pays. After waiting three days for hours on end in a shipping container reception I managed to get hold of the right person to speak to about the internships. I was told that I would need to fill in the application form, find references and a significant piece of legal writing—no small feat with the electricity dropping out regularly, combined with slow erratic interEquality Handbook
For those of you who are interested in International Law, Humanitarian Law or Human Rights law, I would highly recommend applying to an International Criminal Tribunal when you are considering applying for internships.
ICTR: Internship Experience
of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, is something you never forget. This meant that at times it was difficult to imagine that anything positive had happened during that period of history and it was important to keep trying, no matter how grim the facts, which for me was aided largely by my visit to Rwanda itself.
ness and hope, and the contemporary reality, which were outside the scope of the tribunal.
Going to Rwanda also made the work more real. In a way no one escaped. Everyone lives with the memory of the past. The average age remains below twenty, and many have lost family or friends. Still, there is a sense that the Yet despite obvious and less obvious draw- country has moved on, and is dealing with its backs to the international criminal tribunals past. as a means of providing closure, peace and justice, I certainly felt part of a body of dedi- I fell in love with Rwanda and its people, and cated, hard-working people. Moreover I felt for this, for them it is important that this work and still feel that the ICTR has contributed is done, that those responsible are brought to invaluable knowledge and precedents in the trial. Despite the formidable obstacles, difficulfield of international humanitarian law and to ties and impossibilities, I believe some form of the world at large in dealing with atrocities of justice is possible. I think everyone that comes away from this experience is touched in some such a scale. way, by the very humanity and inhumanity of Moreover, when escape was needed from the it. depressing daily trials it is hard to describe how important and close a family we interns If you are thinking therefore about possible became over time. Besides this, the extremely internship opportunities keep in mind the Inwelcoming and open Tanzanian society meant ternational Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that everyone could determine for themselves (“ICTR”), International Criminal Tribunal for how to create their sense of community and the former Yugoslavia (“ICTY”), Internationbelonging. This was certainly aided by the al Criminal Court (“ICC”), Special Court for Swahili language classes we took—a perk for Sierra Leone and Special Tribunal for Camboour unpaid service to the tribunal. Without no- dia. Note that deadlines are often 6 months or ticing it I lost, without missing it, my personal more in advance. ■ space. Not only was it important and gratifying in itself to spend time working at the tribunal, but it also afforded the opportunity to travel to Rwanda itself. Rwanda for me changed my perspective on all the horrifying things I had seen, read and heard thus far. An incredibly beautiful country, I found it impossible but true that the Rwandan people were even more friendly and hospitable than where I had been before. Visiting genocide sites is never anything but shocking. Nevertheless I found that for me the Rwandan experience gave me perspective. It taught me more about the centuries of history of which the genocide was only a small part, the counter-histories, the small acts of kind-
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Northern Land Council Aurora Project Legal Internship Ari Nagar, 5th year Law/Commerce
Traditional Aboriginal owners in the NT have ownership over more than 210,000 km2 of land in the NLC region and almost 87 per cent of the coastline. These areas remain some of the most pristine in Australia and contain many places of Aboriginal cultural, environmental and historic significance. The same areas are highly sought after for exploration and development by mining companies.
Yirrkala on the Gove Peninsula. The meetings I attended were held in picturesque settings, some on the banks of a billabong and others overlooking the ocean. I learnt a great deal from observing the complex processes of collective decision-making and from speaking with NLC lawyers, anthropologists, mining company representatives, geologists and public servants. Our camp fire conversations about the NT’s natural resource management regime were fascinating and frank. Apart from the substantive legal issues involved with the Land Rights Act, the mining consultations brought home: • the formidable logistical difficulties with convening meetings in remote NT communities; • the communication barriers faced by lawyers advising traditional owners;
Under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern • the role of anthropological expertise; and Territory) Act 1976 (Cth), traditional owners must consent to the exploration and mining of their land. Accordingly, one of the NLC’s key statutory functions is to convene meetings between mining companies and traditional owners, so that traditional owners may consider detailed proposals and decide whether they will allow their land to be explored and mined. The highlight of my internship was a fortnight spent camping ‘on country’ to observe and assist in a number of these mining consultations. I attended consultations in Ngukurr before driving 1400 km north through epic scenery and the heart of Arnhem Land to attend a few more consultations in Gurrumaru and Equality Handbook
In late June, I embarked on a six-week legal internship in the Mining Branch of the Northern Land Council (NLC) as part of the Aurora Project. By way of background, the NLC is a statutory authority responsible for assisting Aboriginal people in the northern region of the Northern Territory (NT) to acquire and manage their traditional land and seas. The NLC is also a Native Title Representative Body under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).
Northern Land Council Aurora Project Legal Internship • the significance of Dreamtime stories and sacred sites. By chance, the NLC’s mining consultations in Yirrkala coincided with the Commonwealth Government’s Community Cabinet meeting and community lunch. I was fortunate to meet the Prime Minister and a few senior ministers. Although it was disorienting for such a remote and sleepy community to be momentarily thrust into the national media spotlight, I am glad I had the opportunity to participate in what was both the first Cabinet meeting in north-eastern Arnhem Land and the first in an Aboriginal community.
The Yolngu people I interacted with were warm, generous and proud of their communities. Thanks to them, I came away from my time on country with fond memories; most vivid are those of hunting bush turkeys, fishing in crocodile-infested waters and observing traditional ceremonies. All the while I was also able to see the Northern Territory Emergency Response first-hand. Though not as stunning as going on country, the four weeks I spent working at the NLC’s Darwin office were equally productive. The work included legal research into the prospects of a native title test case, preparing submission ideas for a Northern Territory Government discussion paper, gathering data on exploration licences and drafting lease provisions according to best practice models of joint management of national parks. My internship ended on a happy note, with the announcement on the last day of my internship of a High Court victory for traditional owners in the Blue Mud Bay case regarding rights over NT inter-tidal zones. Having encountered people and places in the NT that few people have the privilege to encounter, I feel indebted to the NLC and the Aurora Project, and highly recommend both. ■
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What is it like to live in Australia? Mele Ane Havea, Clayton Utz The result is that many Indigenous people in Kununurra are not from that area originally, but from further afield. The non-Indigenous Australians in Kununurra came to the area in connection with the region’s various industries. Some were engaged in building the dam for Lake Argyle. Others worked on cattle stations, or in agriculture, mining and more recently, tourism. As you can imagine, being a As I discovered when on a Clayton Utz pro small, remote town and having a high percentbono secondment to the Kimberley Commu- age of Indigenous people (almost 50%), there nity Legal Service (“KCLS”) in far north WA are visible differences to Melbourne city! however, my experience of living in Australia compared with that of many Indigenous Aus- The differences were more significant than tralians is worlds apart. I expected however, and went deeper than those that were visible. There is a wide gap When I started my three month secondment, I between access to justice and legal services in was not completely naïve: I knew there would a metropolitan centre such as Melbourne and be differences between working at a Commu- somewhere as remote as Kununurra—a gap nity Legal Service in the Kimberley and work- far wider than is excusable in a country as rich ing at Clayton Utz, a top-tier law firm on Col- and prosperous as ours. lins Street in Melbourne. The most profound example of this “gap” I Obviously there are many glaring differ- came across while on secondment was in the ences between Melbourne and Kununurra. area of child protection. The Department of Kununurra is a town of approximately 4,000 Child Protection is obliged, in circumstances people. Located half way between Darwin and where it has concerns for the safety and welfare Broome, it is one of the most geographically of a child, to apply to the Court to get protecisolated towns in Australia and the youngest tion orders in relation to the care of the child. town in the East Kimberley (it was gazetted These orders can involve a range of measures, in 1960). It is a melting pot of people from all from supervision of parents to complete custoover Australia. Many Indigenous Australians dial rights, and can vary in length. The Court came to Kununurra in the late 1960s when can also order that the parents engage in rehathey lost their jobs on cattle stations after laws bilitation programs. were introduced giving Indigenous employees the right to receive the same pay as white em- In many Australian jurisdictions if the Departployees. ment seeks protection orders over a child, the parents are automatically referred to and granted legal assistance from Legal Aid or a ComEquality Handbook
I have often been asked this question by friends who live overseas. Although the answer is different for everyone, I had an expectation that, in general, most Australians would have a similar response, and experience. After all, we are fortunate enough to live in a country where there is no war, enough food, a sound social security system and many opportunities.
What is it like to live in Australia?
munity Legal Centre. This referral process is often automatic and as a result, parents are made aware of their rights in relation to contesting and negotiating the terms of these protection orders. Many parents are able to have access to their children regularly and many are also assisted by various support services (such as rehabilitation and anger management). As a result of parents understanding their rights and the process in general, relatively few protection orders are entered into by consent and instead the terms are negotiated in Court. In contrast, in the Kimberley the majority of parents whose children are the subject of protection orders are not referred to legal assistance and do not understand the process in general or their rights. This means that a frightening number of protection orders are entered into by consent, with parents signing the terms of the order without having any understanding of the matter. The difference in the number of protection orders passed by consent in this context is striking. Further, many of the support services that the parents are required to participate in are unavailable or are so limited that many people will never be able to fulfil these requirements and are set up to fail from the beginning. This means that in practice, a huge number of Indigenous Australians are missing out on legal representation and as a result, many children are being separated from their families and in many cases, their culture.
I found the work during my secondment to be the most challenging and confronting work I have ever encountered, yet also extremely rewarding. It was an opportunity to both learn first hand about the complexity of the issues that confront Indigenous communities as well as experience and see some of the most beautiful landscape Australia has to offer. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I would encourage any law student or lawyer to work in a remote Australian location. Clayton Utz, as part of its pro bono program, recognises the responsibilities that we all have as lawyers to ensure that the country in which we live provides equally for us all. An important part of pro bono and volunteering work is, in my opinion, to bridge the gap between the ability of Australians to access legal services in metropolitan and regional and remote areas. If this were to occur, I believe the question of what it is like to live in Australia could be answered more equally by all Australians.
The Kimberley Community Legal Service (“KCLS”) is a generalist legal service providing advice, information, casework and limited representation in the areas of family, civil, employment, tenancy and consumer credit law. KCLS is situated in Kununurra but services the whole of the Kimberley region and provides outreach services to a number of towns and communities including Wyndham, Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing, Derby, Broome and the remote Kimberley communities of WarThis “gap” is one of many that KCLS and mun, Kalumburu, Oombulgurri, and commuother remote legal services are tackling. The nities predominantly in the East Kimberley. lawyers at KCLS are establishing initiatives to address the difficulties faced by Indigenous Clayton Utz has a national pro bono scheme, Australians in accessing legal representation. organised by a full-time pro bono partner In addition to assisting clients who come to based in its Sydney office, and part-time co-ortheir offices in Kununurra, KCLS is working dinators in its other offices. Clayton Utz prowith local community groups and agencies to vides opportunities to all lawyers to undertake educate people about the services available pro bono work. For more details please refer and their rights by frequently going on out- to the Organisations section of the Equality reach to the various communities in the East Handbook. ■ Kimberley. The work undertaken in these parts is complex and challenging but extremely interesting. 48
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Volunteering at PILCH Verena Tan, 4th year Arts/Law take phone inquiries from clients seeking legal assistance. These clients range from notfor-profit organisations to individuals seeking solicitors or barristers. A volunteer is exposed to legal issues that address a diverse range of areas of expertise, an opportunity that a law student does not encounter within their degree alone. On any given day one may take inquiries about immigration law, property disputes, family law and trust issues.
Client inquiries are only one of the various tasks that a PILCH volunteer undertakes, and the opportunity to take on various other projects is always available. During my time My investigation started with an organisation at PILCH I have written and edited reform called PILCH, the Public Interest Law Clear- submissions on the Victorian Charter of Huing House. After a lunchtime information ses- man Rights and Responsibilities, researched sion at the Law School I took to Google and not-for-profit organisations and drafted memfound a brightly coloured blue and lime green orandums to solicitors and barristers. Volunwebsite which provided me with all the moti- teers are given responsibility and autonomy to vation I needed to apply for a volunteer posi- undertake work at their own pace and using tion. Now into my second year at PILCH, I their own initiative. believe the experience I have gained has been Furthermore, at PILCH a volunteer is also exinvaluable to my legal education. posed to the Homeless Persons Legal Clinic PILCH is a not-for-profit legal referral service (â€œHPLCâ€?), an independent service for homewhich also engages in law reform and advoca- less persons or persons at risk of homelessness. cy work for community groups. It incorporates Working with the HPLC gave me the opporthe Victorian Bar Legal Assistance Scheme, tunity to attend one of the clinics, staffed by the Law Institute of Victoria Legal Assistance lawyers from member law firms. At the clinic Scheme and the Public Interest Scheme. I was able to attend client interviews and was directly involved with the clients and lawyers. Unlike many legal volunteer organisations, Face to face interaction provides an excellent PILCH is not a community legal centre and opportunity to experience what legal practice does not provide a drop-in service for le- will be like. gal advice. However, this is not to say that a volunteer does not interact with clients. The If you are interested in gaining some practical main role of the volunteers at PILCH is to experience in the legal sector I strongly enEquality Handbook
Having an interest in social justice and equality is a passion that is difficult to foster when the only subjects available during the early years of a law degree consist of Torts, Contracts and the like. Needless to say, if you are interested in broadening your perspective of the legal system and experiencing access to justice outside a textbook, searching for extra-curricular involvements is your best alternative.
Volunteering at PILCH
courage you to try volunteering at PILCH. It is an excellent opportunity to gain a perspective on legal practice outside the narrow confines of the law school and the corporate sector. It has encouraged and fostered my interest in social justice and equality within the law and I would not hesitate in recommending the volunteer program to any law student. â–
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Reflections on Volunteering at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Jessica Liang, 3rd year Commerce/Law egory of clients that posed the most interesting questions.
It is a harrowing process when you spend multiple days helping asylum seekers fill out their forms, knowing full well that their applications will be futile. Most times, their claims are weak only because they do not have enough evidentiary credibility to satisfy our Western system of law. All of this is not their fault, as the definition of a ‘refugee’ is quite narrow in Australia and easily misconstrued. But do you As a legal volunteer, my work at the ASRC fault them for going through the multiple apranged from simple administrative tasks to in- peals system, to the Federal Magistrates court, terviewing and assisting clients. Because the despite being warned that they do not have a centre has few paid staff, volunteers have the legal case? Then nevertheless continuing on opportunity to participate in matters on a level that may not otherwise be available. While I was there, I drafted letters, wrote letters to the Minister on behalf of clients and attended a High Court hearing on issuing an injunction to stop a deportation. The ASRC is also very politically active, and it takes a leading role in lobbying and demonstrating against unfair asylum policies. The ASRC is unique in having a policy in which no one is turned away. In practice, this doesn’t mean that the Centre’s staff have the resources to help everyone. Instead, solicitors act on behalf of those who have a good case, while those who are not claiming asylum are referred onto migration agents. There are also those in the grey area: clients who are claiming asylum but without strong cases. They are assisted by student volunteers, who help them fill out the sea of paperwork required by the Department of Immigration for their refugee application. It is my experience with this catEquality Handbook
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (“ASRC”) is a free clinic for asylum seekers. Although its main service is the provision of legal advice for refugee applications, it also offers free counselling, a food bank, a medical centre and a plethora of other social programs. The non-legal programs are particularly important as many asylum seekers do not have access to Medicare, work rights or Centrelink, which means they are entirely reliant on charity while their applications are processed.
Reflections on Volunteering at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
without knowledge of English, much less an incisive legal argument that would satisfy the judge? By the time they exhaust all avenues of appeal, including pleading with the Minister for an humanitarian intervention time after time, they will end up in the exact same position as they started, possibly two or three years later, hoping that a change of government will also change their fate. How should you feel as a person helping someone navigate through the various mechanisms, with the knowledge that at best, you are only delaying the inevitable? Reflecting on Levinas’ writing about the cry of the Other, I can only feel ambivalent about this whole experience.
A huge number of law students have volunteered at the Centre, and everyone has their own experiences. Looking back, the work I enjoyed most was listening to the clients’ stories. Most of the asylum seekers had limited English, so a telephone translator was required for the interview. The translated version of events could never do justice to the complexity of their stories, but it has been a privilege to have heard and become privy to their amazing experiences. ■
While most people in this category are genuine claimants, it is not to say that they don’t also have an economic motive for coming to Australia. Indeed, it is easy to forget that most people who come to Australia have been, in this or past generations, economic refugees of some degree. But it seems that some would prefer to deride those who come with both economic and political motives as ‘queue jumpers,’ as if this was some subversive, dangerous thing. It is unfair to divorce and elevate, as mutually exclusive categories, people who have political reasons to flee to Australia from those with universal human hopes and dreams of economic advancement. This view comes from a writer whose father, fifteen years ago, lobbied for and became a beneficiary of an exception to such a system.
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Adventures with the UN in Timor-Leste Jessica Rae, 4th year Commerce/Law
While UNDP is certainly better off than many NGOs, it was still incredibly under-resourced, which provided me the opportunity to sink my teeth into some real work. My most substantial contribution was to produce a report on targets for the justice sector in Timor-Leste. There is currently little planning done at the strategic level to guide the development of the judicial system. In order to address this, I drafted recommended targets for the short and long-term future, based on indicators, such as the number of judges per 100,000 inhabitants. These targets were formulated based on the current situation, comparative judicial statistics from post-conflict and/or developing countries, and my supervisor’s intimate knowledge of the country context.
the Council of Coordination (comprising the Chief Justice, Minister of Justice and Prosecutor-General). While politics will ultimately determine whether the recommendations of the report are implemented, it is difficult to believe that my report, which was drafted over coffee and a couple of late nights, may well be responsible for setting the future direction of the justice sector in Timor-Leste. However, this reflects the nature of working for the UN in such a context—it really does provide you with a great opportunity to use your skills and knowledge to contribute towards a greater good. At the same time, it did not take long to realise that the tales of UN bureaucracy were in fact reality. The flipside of working in an environment with many unfilled positions was that lots of recruitment needed to be done, and inevitably I was landed with this job. Although sieving through CVs quickly became mundane, it provided a good insight into the recruitment processes of the UN. My conclusion was that while procedures have been put into place to
Two months proved to be far too short, and as a result I will not get the chance to see the report being presented to Equality Handbook
After spending two weeks in Geneva learning about international institutions, it seemed fitting to touch down in Timor-Leste and see many of the same organisations operating on the ground. These UN agencies operate under the banner of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (“UNMIT”). I interned with the Governance Unit of the United Nations Development Programme (“UNDP”), and was assigned specifically to work on the Justice System Project. Considered one of the “flagship” projects of UNDP, the programme aims to improve the institutional and human resources capacity of the courts, prosecution, and justice ministry.
Adventures with the UN in Timor-Leste ensure transparency and accountability in the recruitment process, ultimately it can make the whole process unwieldy and frustrating.
Despite these minor frustrations, my experience was overwhelming positive. Apart from the chance to apply my legal skills in practice, it was an invaluable chance to experience life in a UN mission and observe first hand the interaction between the UN and government of Timor-Leste, different UN agencies within the mission itself, and even between the multinational workforce. Not to mention the social interactions outside of work! I met a range of wonderful and interesting people from all over the world, and have been inspired by their varied career paths and passion to make a difference in their field. If you are considering a career in an international organization of some kind, I would highly recommend undertaking an internship to see if it lives up to your expectations. This can usually be done at either Headquarters or out on the field. While both have their advantages and disadvantages, I really appreciated being based in the field. Not only did I gain greater exposure to the realities of development work on the ground, but also experienced the kindness and hospitality of the Timorese people. I have also come away with questions regarding the effectiveness of the UN’s work and their level of engagement with national customs and norms which may not have emerged had I not being living in the country. I know for certain that UNDP in Timor-Leste is always open to taking interns (or “slaves” as we were jokingly called by one colleague) due to their resource constraints, and that other UN agencies in the field would similarly welcome another pair of hands. ■
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The Benefits of Volunteering at a Community Legal Centre Jonathan Augustus, 4th year Commerce/Law
Whilst the position is not nearly as prestigious as a paralegal or clerk at a Collins Street corporate law firm, it can be just as, if not more rewarding, from both a character-building and legal-skill development perspective. However it is vital that you join the Centre for the right reasons, and with the right mindset. If you’re solely looking to simply build your resume as a law student in the hope of nailing that graduate job, not only will you abhor much of your time spent volunteering, you’ll be doing the Centre, and your community a disservice. The reality is that while you’re simply a law student volunteering your time once or twice a week for a few hours, you are actually a vital component to the Centre’s functioning as a service to the needy. The clients are real, and while their issues and concerns may sometimes range from the trivial to the downright pointless, they, like any other individual, have the right to access to justice. CLCs cannot afford (for a variety of reasons) to have continuous paid staff, and hence they rely on volunEquality Handbook
teers (often law students) to help out wherever possible. Yes, sometimes the work is tedious, such as filing, interviewing for details, data entry and other common administrative tasks, but there are many other aspects of CLCs that you cannot comprehend from simply attending Law School. From a personal point of view, some of the greatest personal benefits I have gained from my time at the ECLC has involved frank discussions with solicitors at the Centre. These solicitors have often held a variety of jobs within the legal industry, and are more than happy to explain to you the different cultures and experiences that exist within a big city law firm, a suburban one, a CLC or outside the legal profession altogether. Yes, these discussions also include potential incomes. I know from my time spent talking to solicitors whilst waiting for clients to appear (or not appear as the case may be—an expected part of working at a CLC) I’ve had my eyes opened to a variety of potential career options. I have found such honest career advice to not only be invaluable, but refreshing, considering the barrage of law firm advertising we face every day at the Law School. Additionally, the opportunity to sit in on clientsolicitor interviews and discussions regarding client cases has been amazing, and also hilariously, sometimes good revision for my law subjects such as Dispute Resolution, Contracts and Administrative Law, as legal issues within these disciplines arise all the time. To note how various solicitors handle clients from diverse backgrounds is terrific. I’ve had the opportunity to partake in interviews with clients ranging 55
As a volunteer at the Essendon Community Legal Centre (“ECLC”) for over 18 months now, I have been exposed to various aspects of community legal work that can only be completely understood when you are exposed first-hand to the environment within a Community Legal Centre (“CLC”). The needy and confused clients, the varying attitudes of the hired and volunteer solicitors, as well as the mismanagement and bureaucracy that unfortunately exists at times within CLCs are just some of the revelations that I have learnt during my tenure which make for an interesting learning experience.
Benefits of Volunteering at a Community Legal Centre from those who are nervous and cannot speak English very well, to those who are very stubborn and untrusting of anything or anyone that has anything to do with the legal industry! The solicitors at the Monday night drop-in service are generally volunteers, who after a full day of work at their full-time job, come to assist, often without even having time to eat dinner first. It can be quite inspiring.
At the end of the day, if someone asked me whether I would recommend volunteering at a CLC, I would categorically say yes, however I would definitely emphasise that they should really want it. It is very easy for individuals, both lawyers and volunteers alike, to fall into the trap of apathy within a CLC. I’ve seen it before, and it’s an unfortunate aspect of a lowpaying (or no-paying!) job. But if the desire is there to help people in any way possible, and to learn about the grassroots aspect of the legal industry it, then get in contact with your local CLC immediately, for you will not regret it. ■
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Medley Mag ‘All Wired Up!’ Program Georgina Dimopoulos, 4th year Law/Media and Communications, Editor in Chief of Medley Mag Medley Mag is an online magazine (“e-zine”) that puts the spotlight on the young people who make up our culturally and linguistically diverse society. Founded in 2006, this e-zine gives a “voice” to Australia’s youth, acting as an ongoing tool of empowerment, participation and positive community contribution. It aims to increase youth participation and initiative, and to enhance the English communication skills, and the confidence, of young migrants and refugees.
In 2007, Medley Mag received two grants from the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development. This funding enabled Medley Mag to establish the “All Wired Up!” program at Mullauna College in Mitcham, Victoria. Over a period of 12 weeks, six volunteer trainers, which included four students from Melbourne Law School, met on a weekly basis with Year 9 English as a Second Language (ESL) students, to provide them with computer training and to teach them the basics of media and communications.
verse community, with increasing numbers of refugees settling in the region, especially from the Horn of Africa. Access of young migrants and refugees to information technology is often limited by their financial means, disrupted education, and computer literacy levels. The Medley Mag “All Wired Up!” program sought to address local issues of potential social disconnection, by providing a diverse mechanism for young people to connect and communicate with their peers, to acquire valuable computer and media skills, and to become volunteers with Medley Mag. The weekly modules gave the students an insight into all aspects of the process of developing an online magazine, presenting them with the added opportunity of permanently joining the Medley Mag team. The program has also helped the students to enhance their written and oral English communication skills, as well as their
The participating students were from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, including Sudanese, Liberian, Vietnamese, Iranian, Philippine, Greek, Scottish, Czech, Malaysian and Chinese. They reside in the Eastern Region of Melbourne, which contains a culturally and linguistically di-
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Medley Mag: ‘All Wired Up!’ Program cation to the program, travelling considerable distances each week to attend the sessions, and preparing educational modules.
Gradually learning a range of journalism skills, including reporting, interviewing, and research, the students each wrote four pieces for publication—a news story, an opinion piece, a personal story and a review. Using their marketing and computer skills, they also prepared promotional posters, and self-published their work on the Internet. At the completion of the program, the students received their own computer, which was installed in their homes by the volunteers, so that they may share their skills and knowledge with their families. As founder and editor of Medley Mag, I had the pleasure of working with the students on a weekly basis, overseeing their progress and learning about the personal experiences, hopes, challenges and successes of these wonderful young personalities. Over the course of the program, I observed a transformation in the students, from slightly nervous ‘English students’, to media-savvy ‘trainee journalists’ and ‘computer experts’!
But the tangible outcomes extend well beyond the magazine edition produced and published. The young people who participated—both as students and as volunteers—have formed lasting connections and friendships, sharing their experiences with their peers, and celebrating their own culture whilst simultaneously learning about others. The “All Wired Up” Program has enhanced the opportunity for young people in Melbourne’s Eastern region to make a constructive and substantial contribution to their community. It is a project that embodies the admirable endeavour of cross-cultural harmony. This youth-driven celebration of cultural diversity demonstrates what a community of young people from a number of different ethnic groups, working together with enthusiasm and commitment, can achieve.
The success of the program was largely due to the commitment of the volunteers, and the eagerness of the students to learn essential computer skills and training, which are vital for communication and education in today’s Medley Mag can be accessed online at ‘information age’. The volunteers—Lau- <medleymag.com.au>. ■ ren Baird, Karmen Ou, and Melbourne Law School students Melissa Ng, James Pappas and Kelvin Tay—displayed remarkable dedi-
confidence—thereby achieving two of Medley Mag’s key aims.
A special Launch Event, attended by representatives of the Victorian Multicultural Commission and the Office of Women’s Policy, was held at the completion of the program, to showcase the Medley Mag Mullauna Edition, and to celebrate the achievements of the students. The pieces published are the products of the program’s weekly modules—from news stories about a Multicultural Concert and an excursion to Sydney Road, to opinion pieces regarding a range of issues concerning today’s youth, including homework and global warming. Readers can browse photographs, enjoy reviews of movies, CDs and books, and learn about the experiences of the young people as they have migrated from Sudan, Vietnam, Liberia, the Philippines and Iran to Australia.
Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning Program Nik Tan, 4th year Arts/Law, SAIL Program Overseeing Coordinator The Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning (“SAIL”) Program is a volunteer, nonprofit, secular organisation that provides free English support & community services to the Sudanese refugee community in Melbourne & Sydney.
SAIL volunteers come from all walks of life; many are university students, teachers and lawyers. All that is required to become a SAIL tutor is enthusiasm and willingness to give your time. I myself am a student of this law school and constantly trying to find the perfect balance between Trusts reading with SAIL For most, Saturday mornings are a time to time. read the paper, work, study, go for a run or recover from a big night. For SAIL students and The bulk of the activities operated by the volunteers, Saturday mornings bring study, SAIL Program run every Saturday morning, talk and laughter at six campuses across Mel- mid February until late December. There are six mini-programs which fit under the SAIL bourne, and one in Sydney. Program banner. Each mini-program has its Volunteer tutors and Sudanese students work own resources and volunteer staff: together for an hour and a half, followed by lunch. SAIL can be a student’s first experience SAIL which provides free English as a Secof English, or a homework help service for es- ond Language tutoring for Sudanese children, and teenagers that runs on Saturday morning tablished Sudanese Australians in VCE. at all campuses. In 2008, SAIL turns 7 years old. In those seven years it has grown from two tutors and five SAIL Senior, a similar program run for the Sustudents to an incorporated organisation with danese adults, also runs on Saturday morning more than 350 volunteer tutors and approxi- at all campuses. SAIL Senior is for the adult members of the Sudanese community. SAIL mately 450 Sudanese students of all ages. SAIL’s refugee students are from a broad range of backgrounds; most have spent time in Kakuma refugee camp before arriving in Australia, many have made their journey from Sudan via Egypt and Uganda. Some students have been in Australia for several years already, others are newly arrived and still adapting to all aspects of life in their new community.
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Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning Program Senior at the same time as SAIL Junior and the SAIL Program tutoring. It offers small-group tutoring in the hope that students will support one another in their first language. The aim of SAIL Senior is to provide the adults with contacts to improve their English language skills and to enable them to consolidate their children’s learning at home.
ninsula. SAIL also runs a family tree planting camp and hiking camp each year. SAIL is ultimately a support service for a community that needs and deserves such assistance. As its overseeing coordinator however, I can testify to the fact that SAIL volunteers also benefit hugely from tutoring at SAIL.
For me, Saturdays are not merely the chance to support the Sudanese community and further the education of those who have been denied it in the past and thus need it most, but the chance to see astounding dedication to education and a better life, friendship between each tutor and student, Sudanese families at home SAIL Xtend provides extra-curricular short in Australia, students’ English and confidence courses for school-aged SAIL participants developing each and every week, and kids on a rotating basis on Saturday afternoons at bouncing off the walls because there is cake the Braybrook and Footscray campuses only. after lunch that day. SAIL Xtend comprises of various activities that are part of the Integrated Learning at the For me, there is no more rewarding thing. Program. SAIL Xtend starts after a short lunch break on Saturdays and lasts for one hour. In Contact 2007, SAIL Xtend offered extra-curricular short courses in dance, soccer, painting, ten- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org nis, cooking, AFL, athletics and krumping. Web: sailprogram.org.au ■ SAIL Junior provides the under 6 year olds with the opportunity to learn socialisation skills in an English speaking environment. SAIL Junior also provides the SAIL Senior participants with some quiet time to concentrate on learning English.
Home Help engages experienced female SAIL volunteers to help settling single Sudanese mothers in the home. Home Help offers weekday home visits for 3 hours to approximately five SAIL families. All volunteers must be female and must undergo a trial period at a SAIL campus first.
SAIL About offers free camps and excursions to members of the Sudanese community. In 2007, SAIL Students saw Circus Oz, Australian Open Tennis, Wind in the Willows in the Botanical Gardens, various films, the beach and productions. All excursions are followed up with worksheets and discussions to consolidate the integrated learning from the excursion. Camps occur three or more times each year to various parts of rural and regional Australia. SailAway is the feature camp of the year, involving more than 65 SAILors for a weekend at Somers on the Mornington Pe-
Community Connect at Clayton Utz The legal profession has traditionally recognised a professional responsibility to help ensure that the justice system is open to all members of the community. This means that “pro bono” (for the public good) legal work has been provided by many lawyers for free, to people who would not otherwise be able to afford legal advice or representation.
have suffered loss through unscrupulous business dealings, and even in some rare cases, acting in criminal appeal proceedings. Many of the matters are small in scale, but this is not always the case; occasionally our lawyers have had the chance to work on pro bono cases which have been appealed all the way to the High Court.
Pro bono legal work is referred to Clayton Utz by community legal services or referral schemes such as the Public Interest Law Clearing House and the Law Institute of Victoria Legal Assistance Scheme. The type of work is broad ranging and includes representing victims of discrimination, people who
In recent years it has also become clear that law firms’ involvement in and responsibility to the community need not be limited to the provision of pro bono legal work. In 2002 Clayton Utz introduced Community Connect
Pro bono work on behalf of charities and other relevant “not for profit” organisations involves legal advice or assistance regarding commercial aspects of their charitable operations. This work gives lawyers with a particular area of specialisation an opportunity to perform some work in that area on a pro bono basis. For Pro Bono example, Clayton Utz construction lawyers have recently assisted a prominent charitable Clayton Utz has a national pro bono practice organisation with the contracts for a full refit led by a full-time pro bono partner based in our of its premises. Legal issues in the areas of Sydney office, and part-time co-ordinators in workplace relations, intellectual property and our other offices. We were a Foundation Sig- taxation are other examples that frequently natory to the National Aspirational Pro Bono arise. Target of at least 35 hours pro bono work per year, per lawyer, by June 2008. In fact, the Other pro bono initiatives, in which a number Clayton Utz Melbourne office averaged 58 of firms participate, provide the opportunity to pro bono hours per lawyer last year. provide targeted advice and assistance to people experiencing homelessness (through the Our Pro Bono practice provides assistance to Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic) or mental community organisations which help disad- illness (through a program run by the Mental vantaged people, and to individuals who are Health Legal Centre). Pro bono legal work can unable to afford their own solicitor and do not often be an important way of reminding lawqualify for Legal Aid or other assistance. yers why they studied law in the first place!
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Community Connect at Clayton Utz which, in addition to our Pro Bono Program, The Foundation also matches funds raised by staff and partners through other fundraising includes: initiatives, such as Jeans for Genes Day, the • our Community Involvement program which Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Approvides opportunities for all staff and part- peal and the Beyond Blue Initiative. ners to engage with the community through volunteer programs developed in each of- Some of the organisations the Melbourne office has supported during 2006/07 through fice; and • the Clayton Utz Foundation which provides Community Involvement and Foundation financial donations to community and char- grants include: itable organisations who have a relationship • Adult Multicultural Education Service with the firm. (AMES)—Conversation classes with adult migrants; Community Involvement • Ardoch Youth Foundation—Literary Buddies pen pal program with primary school One of the main objectives of Communistudents; ty Connect is to provide avenues for all our people to devote their time and energies to • Fitted For Work—Financial support and charitable organisations. As a result, we ofcollection of business clothes for unemfer everyone at Clayton Utz volunteering opployed women; portunities, as well as one paid leave day each • Green Collect—Financial support for a year for the purpose of volunteering at a comproject aimed at redirecting unwanted busimunity organisation or charity which the firm ness furniture away from landfill and maksupports. Each Clayton Utz office has a Coming it available for use by the not-for-profit munity Connect Committee which is responsector; sible for developing volunteer programs. The primary focus of our Community Involvement • The Maslow Group—Assisting at BBQs for residents of the Hanover Crisis Accommoprogram is encouraging and developing literadation Centre; cy skills in children and young people, but the program’s reach is far broader than this. • Opportunity International—Microfinance loans to help the entrepreneurial poor lift themselves and their families out of povClayton Utz Foundation erty; • Red Cross—Involvement in the Corporate Blood Challenge; • Committee Assist—Program to develop an orphanage in Africa; and • Beyond Blue—Increased awareness of the incidence of depression within the Community. Footprints
Clayton Utz’ partners and staff also have the As at July 2008, the Clayton Utz Foundation opportunity to join the Footprints committee, has distributed 173 grants to over 109 organiwhich investigates and undertakes projects sations with a value of nearly $2.5 million. aimed at reducing our corporate and individual environmental footprint. The Committee Equality Handbook
The Clayton Utz Foundation was established in 2003 to make financial donations to eligible charities which have a link to Clayton Utz. These links can be through our pro bono work, Community Involvement program or the charities our people (or their families) support. Wherever possible we link in-kind support, such as the provision of volunteer time and skills, to the organisation receiving the Foundation grant.
Community Connect at Clayton Utz was formed in December 2006 and arose out of a strong desire on the part of many staff to become involved in exploring and implementing initiatives aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of our daily practices and activities.
Through Footprints, staff at Clayton Utz are working to increase awareness of the impact that the resources, products and services we use every day in our home and working lives have on the environment and to investigate ways and means of reducing that impact for the benefit of existing and future generations.
These aims are reflected in Footprints’ objectives, to:
Senior Associate and Pro Bono Coordinator, Melbourne Clayton Utz email@example.com
Senior Associate and Pro Bono Projects Coordinator, Melbourne Clayton Utz firstname.lastname@example.org Melody Webb Solicitor and Community Connect Coordinator, Melbourne Clayton Utz
• promote environmental awareness and edu- email@example.com ■ cation as to better environmental work and home practices; • review current work practices to identify more environmentally efficient practices; • improve Clayton Utz’ waste avoidance, reduction, re-use and recycling programs; • eliminate unnecessary energy use through energy conservation programmes, and reviewing usage of office utilities such as gas, electricity and water; • reduce the environmental impacts associated with transport by encouraging staff to use environmentally friendly means of transport;
• review services, materials, equipment and food purchased by Clayton Utz and give preference to sustainable products; and • encourage the use of public transport or more environmentally efficient means of getting to and from work. To date Footprints has made some positive steps toward reducing the size of our carbon footprint and is looking for new ways to improve our practices.
Law Students’ Society
Volunteering at Community Legal Centres Fitzroy Legal Service Abigael Ogada-Osir, 5th year Arts/Law, FLS Volunteer Co-ordinator and Mary Quinn, 3rd year Arts/Law, FLS Reception and Administration What is Fitzroy Legal Service?
trates’ court in Collingwood. FLS is also responsible for periodic publication of The Law As the first Community Legal Centre (“CLC”) Handbook and the Services Directory for Drug established in Australia, Fitzroy Legal Service & Alcohol Users. (“FLS”) aims to improve access to justice for the local community, especially those who are disadvantaged or marginalised. FLS offers Volunteering at Fitzroy Legal Service a number of legal services for people in the local area. The Night Service provides free Over the last 12 months FLS has been assistlegal advice every weeknight from 6.30pm – ed by over 240 volunteers. Volunteers help in no appointments are necessary. On Thursday many areas of the service, including reception nights a Family Law Clinic is held which pro- and administration, Night Service, publicavides free specialist legal advice on family law tions, paralegal work, legal research and law issues by appointment. On Wednesday nights reform campaigns. FLS runs an outreach service at North RichOur volunteers come from all walks of life. mond Community Health Centre. While lawyers, paralegals and community Matters identified during Night Service as re- workers offer their time, FLS welcomes stuquiring legal representation may be referred to dent volunteers who are studying in fields such our Day Service which offers legal represen- as criminal justice, legal administration, social tation to people for ongoing cases in criminal work, community work and law.
law, juvenile justice, family law, intervention orders, social security and civil litigation. The main matters are those which qualify for Legal Aid or are related to law reform and public interest work. Social action projects include campaign work on issues regarding criminal records, drugs and the law, police accountability, prisoners’ rights and discrimination matters. FLS also has a lawyer who takes volunteers at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre—a community magis-
Volunteering at Community Legal Centres: Fitzroy Legal Service
All volunteers are provided with initial training and have the opportunity to assist with approximately three months of reception and administration work prior to specialising in a particular area of the service. In addition, volunteers have the opportunity to attend monthly volunteer training sessions on specialised and relevant areas of community law; recently, Magistrate Brian Wright spoke at “Assisting Victims of Crime”, training related to assisting clients at the Victims Of Crime Assistance Tribunal. The FLS Night Service currently has over 100 volunteers and takes on new volunteers when vacancies arise or when we have special requirements. When selecting volunteers we look for any special skills or experience you may have that would suit our needs as well as trying to keep a balance of legal/non-legal, male/female and all areas of the law covered on each night. As a student volunteer on Night Service you have the opportunity to assist in a paralegal capacity with people seeking advice on legal matters. This involves greeting new clients, conducting the initial client interview to determine the facts and any relevant legal issues, taking file notes and liaising with the duty solicitors on points of law. Night Service volunteering is a great opportunity to get an insight into practical application of the law, develop communication skills, meet new people and contribute to improving community access to justice.
induction training I worked on reception in a volunteer capacity. This was a great introduction to the Service and provided an opportunity to get to know the people and how things worked. At the front desk you are the first port of call for all inquires from new and existing clients and are responsible for managing solicitor-client appointments and making referrals to other service providers where appropriate. Other duties involve completing Conflict-ofInterest checks, reviewing client files, updating the computer database, and collecting and distributing mail.
“Volunteering at FLS is a great opportunity to get some hands-on experience in the law while helping address inequalities within the legal system. After completing the initial volunteer
I am continually inspired by the commitment and passion of the staff and volunteers at FLS in working to facilitate and improved community access to legal advice and, in particu-
From reception work I then began volunteering as a case-work paralegal with Hui Zhou, the Drug & Alcohol Outreach lawyer. Many of Hui’s clients face issues of homelessness or drug or alcohol abuse or addiction, which can add another dimension to any legal issues they might face. Attending Outreach sessions with Hui where free legal advice is provided to any Casework volunteering involves helping so- who need it, sitting in on solicitor-client interlicitors with ongoing matters—drafting let- views and attending court made the experience ters, reviewing files, filing and undertaking le- incredibly eye-opening, and provided an opgal research where required. Volunteers may portunity to gain an insight into the difficulties also get the opportunity to attend court and faced by many people in their interaction with the legal system. On a practical level, I helped solicitor-client interviews. Hui with drafting documents, preparing correspondence, managing files and completing A Snap-Shot—Mary Quinn research where needed.
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Volunteering at Community Legal Centres: Fitzroy Legal Service lar, providing legal support to disadvantaged members of the community.” Getting Involved If you are interested in volunteering at FLS, please fill in a Volunteer Questionnaire form from our website <fitzroy-legal.org.au>. Forms can be sent to Abigael Ogada-Osir either via email <firstname.lastname@example.org> or post. FLS will keep your Volunteer Questionnaire Form on file and contact you when an appropriate position becomes available.
For general information about volunteering at Community Legal Centres generally, you can go to <communitylaw.org.au> for information on CLCs in specific areas and Specialist CLCS. The Law Volunteer website, <lawvolunteers. org.au>, run by the Monash Law Students’ Society and La Trobe Law Students’ Association, also lists volunteer vacancies in CLCs and other service providers. ■
Lawyers for a NuclearFree World Tim Wright, 4th year Arts/Law The Scottish harbour of Faslane appears quite peaceful. But lurking beneath its surface are four submarines carrying enough nuclear warheads to kill a hundred million people. Naturally, many Scots are uneasy about this. And some of them have demonstrated fierce objection—including three women who, in 1999, endeavoured to ‘disarm’ a nuclear research barge also moored there. The action resulted in several million dollars’ damage. They were arrested and, at trial, argued that international law permitted them to do what they had done. The much graver offence, in their view, was that the British Government was in possession of illegal weapons of mass slaughter. Remarkably, the women were acquitted of all charges, and their story provided new hope to the anti-nuclear movement. It arguably reflects a growing acceptance of international law—and rejection of nuclear weapons—by domestic courts. But the ideal of a nuclearweapon-free world remains elusive. A small
number of states still cling firmly to the misguided view that nuclear weapons bring them security, when in fact they only breed insecurity. The challenge of lawyers, over the coming decade, will be to create a legal framework that provides nuclear weapon states with the confidence they need to relinquish these worst weapons of terror. And there’s no time to waste. With every passing moment, the chance of nuclear weapons being used—to catastrophic effect—increases. Experts agree that it’s fanciful to think these weapons can be retained in perpetuity and not used, either by accident or intentionally. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take another Hiroshima or Nagasaki before we finally ban the Bomb. We have already outlawed chemical weapons, biological weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions. Isn’t it now time to outlaw the worst weapons of all? That we haven’t yet mustered the political will to do so is surely one of humanity’s greatest failings.
For the last two years I’ve worked on the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (“ICAN”)—a new campaign aimed at building support for the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention. It started in Melbourne but is now active in about a dozen countries and has been endorsed by prominent people like the Dalai Lama. Our lobbying efforts in Australia were directly linked to the decision this June by Prime 68
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Lawyers for a Nuclear-Free World Minister Rudd to set up an international nuclear disarmament commission, which will devise practical steps to achieve abolition. It has been exciting to be a part of this movement. One of my early roles was to travel through Africa encouraging governments to ratify the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty. Many of the people I spoke to saw nuclear weapons more as a development issue than a security threat. Precious resources were being wasted. The United States alone spends US$40–50 billion a year maintaining and modernising its nuclear arsenal—enough to end extreme poverty worldwide by 2030. I spoke to a South African who had been involved in dismantling his country’s entire nuclear stockpile in the early 1990s. He said there’s no good reason why other nuclear-armed countries couldn’t do the same today.
If you’re not particularly interested in dealing with the nitty-gritty of the disarmament machinery, we also need people to do media work, web design, outreach, celebrity recruitment, film work and event organisation. The campaign in Australia is supported by a fulltime director and a management committee of hard-working volunteers. Our office is in the Green Building on Leicester Street, just a few minutes walk from the law school. Email me if you’re keen to get active <tim@icanw. org>. Though there are no nuclear-armed submarines in Australia for us to commandeer, there’s still plenty to be done. Our contribution could be crucial to the global movement for a nuclear-weapon-free world. ■
I’ve also been fortunate enough to represent ICAN at two meetings of parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—in Vienna last year and Geneva this year. On both occasions, I was inspired by the enthusiasm of other campaigners but disappointed with the lack of urgency and creativity exhibited by diplomats. There was a remarkable sense that it was business as usual. It confirmed in my mind that any real progress towards disarmament will be the result of ordinary people the world over taking a firm stand against the Bomb, and forcing their politicians to act.
This semester I’ve been able to combine my work on the campaign with my law degree. I’m writing a paper for Advanced Legal Research on the obstacles to commencing negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention. There are plenty of opportunities for more law students to become involved. Currently, most of the campaigners are doctors and medical students who consider disarmament to be a form of ‘preventive medicine’—but I hope that the campaign will, in coming years, attract a large number of lawyers.
The HIV/AIDS Legal Centre Michael Williams, final year Arts/Law, LSS Queer Officer, Administrative Coordinator HALC
The HIV/AIDS Legal Centre (“HALC”) was established in 1993 to provide legal advice to those living with, and affected by, HIV/AIDS. HALC is a “project” of the Victoria AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre, Victoria’s peak body for people living with HIV/AIDS. The service has primarily assisted clients with estate planning and the preparation of wills. As medical understandings of HIV have changed over the years, with people living longer because of better treatments, other areas of law have become important for HALC’s clients. These include workplace discrimination, access to superannuation, immigration rights and the effect of family and criminal law on people with HIV. HALC today advises on these all areas, as well as consumer debt issues, the law of employment and some personal injury matters.
and have an awareness of the complex issues which arise when assisting clients with chronic health problems. I am proud to volunteer with lawyers who do not view community law as a form of charity but as an essential part of a legal system striving for justice. If you would like to be involved with HALC, either as an administrative volunteer or a lawyer, please contact us on the details provided. Alternatively, if you would like to make a donation to the service, contact the Victoria AIDS Council/ Gay Men’s Health Centre on (03) 9865 2700 or the Positive Living Centre (details below). HIV/AIDS Legal Centre (HALC)
C/o Positive Living Centre 51 Commercial Rd, Prahran, VIC, 3181 HALC has no full-time lawyers and is one of T: (03) 9863 0444/ (03) 9863 0406 (direct) the only legal providers in the state to function E: email@example.com ■ solely through the support of volunteers. It receives no ongoing funding. Yet the quality, and commitment, of its lawyers both to their clients’ legal issues and to understanding the difficulties they face living in a community still fearful of HIV/AIDS, is remarkable. My involvement with HALC as an administrative volunteer has given me first hand insights into how to mould oneself into the ‘total lawyer’, a model of the practitioner frequently demanded of those working in community legal settings. By this I mean that working in a community law service such as HALC, whilst demanding technical excellence in advising on the law, also requires lawyers to show compassion,
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Diabetes and the CocaCola Era in Kenya David Liew, GAPS Australia and the doctor I was with promised to do his best; we all knew that the only question was whether we would amputate his leg above or below the knee.
There is no doubt that developing-world level medical care and poor diabetic treatment for the majority of patients contributes to the inAsk someone what comes to mind when they credible severity of the ulcers; walking barethink of disease in Africa and you will too of- foot on rocky ground is a factor as well. Howten hear about malnutrition, HIV and tubercu- ever, to borrow from some well-worn medical losis. It is hidden by this shroud that type 2 di- wisdom, it is important to look beyond the abetes in countries like Kenya is becoming an diabetic feet and to look at the people with increasing problem. Unsurprisingly, develop- diabetes. In a country where diabetes virtually ing-world aspirations and their consequences did not exist twenty years ago, where did all on lifestyle in Kenya go some way to explain- the diabetes come from? ing this rising threat. Through my time volunteering in Nairobi, I was able to get a sense of It is not just in the hospital where the disease is the deeply-rooted elements in Kenyan society noticed; hints of the rising tide of diabetes are everywhere. One cannot pass by any heartland which underlie this disturbing trend. Nairobi medical clinic without noticing handMy first day in the hospital I volunteered at painted signs proclaiming the availability of illustrated to me in blunt terms the real human blood sugar testing for those who can afford impact of the situation. I went to a ward full it. More prominent than this are the ubiquiof patients with diabetic foot ulcers, a com- tous red-and-white signs plastered all along plication of severe diabetes that starts with a the roadside. Coca-Cola has an undeniable small cut but leads to infection causing flesh grip on the soul of Kenya, a grip which seems to be eaten away from the foot. I walked past to bring most Kenyans pride. An hour-and-apatient after patient with debilitating foot ul- half after landing in Nairobi for the first time, cers so severe that they were eating through Kenyan hospitality took me to a middle-class to the boneâ€”a far cry from the highly-spe- wedding celebration and the place that the Cocialised diabetic foot unit in Melbourne that ca-Cola company I had spent time in a few months previously. and its products The unit in Melbourne only had to resort to hold in Kenyan any form of amputation to stop the infection in society became 11% of cases. Not a single one of the patients I very clear to me. saw on that day in Kenya avoided amputation. Not only were I was introduced to a village school principal Coca-Cola soft who had served his community for 40 years drinks the beverEquality Handbook
In a country where the only way to get ahead in life is by foot, the growing threat of diabetes in Kenya is taking an enormous toll, and the solution isnâ€™t easy.
Diabetes and the Coca-Cola Era in Kenya
ages of choice, displayed ornamentally on the high table, but key to the formalities was the ceremonial mixing of Coca-Cola and Fanta to show the inseparability of the couple.
Cola’s dominance leads to the same harmful effects.
But what can be done? Even a simple bridging solution such as sugar-free colas would Seeing soft drinks so prominently involved in face significant barriers. Coca-Cola Light, as such an important moment in the lives of two it is known in Kenya, is derided in the face everyday Kenyans helped open my eyes to of the ‘big man’ attitudes that run through the the pervasiveness of Coca-Cola and the pres- fabric of the Kenyan mentality. At best, Kentige associated with it—something I would be yans consider it pretentious, at worst, a sign of constantly reminded of for the duration of my weakness. trip. I was fortunate enough to visit some more remote areas with the development aid organi- As often is the case, the good solutions aren’t sation I volunteer for, Global Aid Partnerships the flashy or popular ones. Public health pro(GAPS), and often drinking water would not motion is hard enough to sell in Australia— be available but Coca-Cola would be. I was anyone who doubts that should watch the Edioffered Coca-Cola at the houses of the rich fice Complex episode of The Hollowmen—but and the houses of the poor. Even at the airport taking it to a developing-country setting takes amongst traditional wooden carvings for sale it several degrees of difficulty higher. PromotI spotted an intricately carved Coca-Cola bot- ing better nutrition, in particular water and vegetables in lieu of the Kenyan staples of tle. Coca-Cola, chips and nyama choma (the KenCoca-Cola rules the roost without discriminat- yan national dish of barbequed meat), might ing between class or tribe. It unifies Kenyan seem like a far-off dream for a country with society with dreams of the good times that significant societal problems. What I came to Coca-Cola advertising has a tendency to refer- realise is that Kenya should anchor a health ence so readily. The country might be divided promotion strategy to be treated as a priority if on politics, mobile phone carrier and football it does not wish to face an increasingly large team but the presence of Coke is somewhat re- health burden that will have significant ecoassuringly ever-present. It is easy for foreign- nomic and societal consequences. ers to lap up such symbols of familiarity in an otherwise starkly different culture and to even Despite these barriers, inspiration might be become nostalgic over the glass bottles and drawn from the way Kenya dealt with the retro labels that seem stuck in the same 1960s last great threat to the nation’s health. Over time-warp as downtown Nairobi’s architec- the last couple of years, the number of peoture. The more unpleasant reality is that, with ple with HIV has apparently halved from apculturally imperialistic overtones, Coca-Cola proximately 13% to 6%, no mean feat given embodies desirability in a society aspiring to a HIV sufferers are surviving longer due to the laudable government policy of fully subsidisWestern, and particularly American, life. ing anti-retroviral HIV medication. This has And with this blind reliance on Coca-Cola largely been achieved through an extensive comes an almost unlimited exposure to the public education program, correcting myths, harmful effects of simple sugars in the blood- encouraging openness and promoting safe sex stream. Like remote Aboriginal communi- methods. Cartoons were used to remove the ties—where Coca-Cola subsidised transport perceived dour edge from the message, giving costs contribute to highly increased rates of it more street credibility and less the feel of a type 2 diabetes—there can be no doubting school lecture. This campaign is evidence that that, for all strata of Kenyan society, Coca- public health education campaigns can be successful in Kenya and there is no reason why
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Diabetes and the Coca-Cola Era in Kenya some change, bridging or otherwise, cannot be eral elections which for a while saw the threat achieved on a wide scale. of genocide and civil war loom over Kenyan society. Through a carefully-engineered inPublic health promotion is the key and diabetes tervention led by Kofi Annan, change is beis just one of a number of diseases that can be ing effected and hope is possible. A carefully blunted through health promotion campaigns. crafted response could also provide a similar In many villages in the Maasailand region of outlook for the fight against type 2 diabetes. Kenya, there is a common fallacy that flies Kenya may face an increasing potential health clean eyes when they land on them. In reality, burden as a result of Coca-Colaâ€™s special place they are really spreading bacteria that cause in Kenyan society, but, with appropriate focus, trachoma, an infection that can lead to blind- there might be reason for hope. ness. A simple health promotion campaign would fix this. Properly rehydrating children For more information about volunteering in suffering from diarrhoea, protecting pregnant Kenya or Global Aid Partnerships (GAPS) mothers from malaria-carrying mosquitoes, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit <gaps. implementing proper hygiene in food prepara- org.au>. The Kenyan Village-Based Medical tionâ€”these are all key examples which would Educators Program is run with the support reduce the burden of disease significantly and of the University of Melbourne Dreamlarge lead to healthier, happier and more productive Knowledge Transfer Student Grants Scheme. communities which are better equipped to undergo community development.
I could not stand idly by and ignore the situation. Through GAPS, with the support of local partner Community Medicare Africa, and a University of Melbourne Dreamlarge Knowledge Transfer grant through the School of Population Health, I am working with a team of volunteers here in Australia to design a culturally-sensitive public health promotion curriculum. It targets easily preventable, highburden diseases as well as providing information about easily treatable conditions such as chest infections and burns. At the end of the year, this simple, bite-sized set of knowledge about key medical conditions will be taught by GAPS volunteers from both Australia and Kenya to senior laymen villagers from Maasai communities. This knowledge, along with advocacy skills, will be taught in a four-day course to enable these people to go back to their communities and act as advocates for better health in their communities. Programs like this will be key to the future of societies and economies like Kenya but must be implemented on a much wider scale. At the beginning of the year, I personally witnessed violence resulting from the Kenyan gen-
Volunteersâ€™ Directory 2009
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Albury Wodonga Community Legal Service
Postal Address: Locked Bag 7, Collingwood 3066
Ph: (02) 6056 8210
Volunteer Co-ordinator: vicvolunteers@ amnesty.org.au
E-mail: email@example.com Street Address: 12 Stanley Street, Wodonga 3690
Services Provided: Human rights organization.
Role of Student Volunteers: Varies from campaigning, to Legal Network, to adminisVolunteer Co-ordinator: Ashlie Mason. Can tration. be contacted by either e-mail or phone on the Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes. above details. Required Level of Experience/Skills: DePostal Address: PO Box 31, Wodonga 3689
Services Provided: We provide free and confidential legal advice, information, casework and referrals for a range of individuals and groups in the community.
pends on area that interested in—generally good word processing skills and ability to commit for a few months.
Time(s) to Apply: Any time. Role of Student Volunteers: To assist solici- Application Process: tors with research and casework. 1. Apply online. Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes. 2. Come to a Get Active meeting on the first Required Level of Experience/Skills: Office Monday of the month at the office, 6pm. experience and experience using Microsoft Time Commitment: Depends on the project, applications. but generally need a few months commitment Time(s) to Apply: Anytime. and 6 months for administration. Application Process: Either call or email the service on the above details. The application will then be discussed with the Principal So- Asylum Seeker Resource licitor. Centre (ASRC) Time Commitment: Flexible. Ph: (03) 9326 6066 Amnesty International Australia Ph: (03) 9412 0700 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Street Address: Suite 8, 134 Cambridge St, Collingwood 3066
Fax: (03) 9326 5199 E-mail: email@example.com Website: asrc.org.au Address: 12 Batman St, West Melbourne 3003 (near Flagstaff Gardens) Volunteer Co-ordinator: Janna Hilbrink. Services Provided: Many programs, including legal, casework, counselling, health, Law Students’ Society
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 ESL classes, foodbank, campaigning, Eng- times, not be available. Students are placed in lish Home Tutoring Program, social and rec- our database until a position arises. reation, employment, community meals, and Time(s) to Apply: Any time. drop-in centre. Application Process: Contact Hayley Pearse Role of Student Volunteers: Involved at all and students will be emailed the application levels throughout programs. form, alternatively go to our website and Currently Accepting Volunteers: See web- download the application form. site for current places. Time Commitment: Volunteers are asked to Time(s) to apply: Any time, but 5 intakes per year in alternate months from February.
commit to a particular day for a block of time (e.g. 3–6 months). This can continue to be renewed at the end of each block if the student Application Process: Check website and so wishes. book in for an Information Night. Time Commitment: Usually ½ or 1 day/night per week, varies according to which program students volunteer for. The ASRC asks for a minimum 12 months commitment.
Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre Ph: (03) 9363 1811
Barwon Community Legal Service Ph: (03) 5221 4744 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: communitylaw.org.au/geelong
E-mail: email@example.com Website: communitywest.org.au Address: 822 Ballarat Road, Deer Park 3023 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Valerie Cholosznecki (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Services Provided: Generalist legal service Address: 73 Pakington Street, Geelong West providing general legal advice, referral, case work, law reform and community legal educa3218 Volunteer Coordinator: Hayley Pearse tion. BMCLC also does policy work focusing on human rights of imprisoned persons, fam(Hayley_Pearse@clc.net.au). ily law and violence. Services Provided: Generalist legal service providing information, advice and assistance Role of Student Volunteers: Daytime volwith family law, intervention orders, mo- unteers—paralegal work, drafting letters, retor vehicle accidents, traffic offences, youth search, administration, community legal edurights, consumer law, some criminal law and cation, law reform and policy. other general matters. Specialises in welfare Night-time volunteers—taking client statisrights and child support (carer and liable par- tics, sitting in on interviews and assisting soents), including paternity testing. Both of these licitor. services are independent of Centrelink and the Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes, deChild Support Agency. pending on need. Role of Student Volunteers: Administration, night service, public information library and file destruction. There is also the opportunity to accompany our solicitors to the courts for intervention order matters. Currently Accepting Volunteers: We always accept applications but volunteer work may, at
Required Level of Experience/Skills: Preferably later year levels. Time(s) to Apply: Opportunities will be advertised on the website. Application Process: 1. Call the centre and fill out form.
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 2. If place available, BCLC will contact student.
1. If students are put on a waiting list, CLC will call them up when there is a place available.
3. Volunteers can participate in the monthly Western Region CLC Forum training on Time Commitment: Night Service—3 hours on a roster basis. various areas of the law. Time Commitment: Daytime service— Daytime service—A full day weekly. half day weekly or fortnightly for at least 6 months. Night-time service—3 hours monthly for at Casey Cardinia Community Legal Service Inc. least 6 months. Ph: (03) 9793 1993 Broadmeadows Community Legal Service Ph: (03) 9302 3911 E-mail: broadmeadows_VIC@clc.net.au Address: 180 Widford Street, Broadmeadows 3047
E-mail: email@example.com Address: 42 Claredale Road, Dandenong 3175 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Heather Richardson (Heather_Richardson@clc.net.au)
Services Provided: Generalist Community Legal Service providing legal advice, informaVolunteer Co-ordinator: Flora Culpan tion and referral to community organisations, community legal education and ongoing case(firstname.lastname@example.org). Services Provided: Generalist legal serv- work assistance. Specialises in Family law and ice providing legal advice, referral, ongoing debt matters. Other services such as financial casework assistance and a community legal counsellor and outreach services provided. education program. BCLS also provides an Role of Student Volunteers: Research, adintervention order support program, divorce ministration, preparation of documents, obclasses, outreach services at Sunbury Com- serving client interviews. munity Health Centre and Craigieburn Broth- Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes, howerhood of St Laurence. ever only waiting list available at the moRole of Student Volunteers: Night service ment. paralegal (generally lower year levels)—sit in Required Level of Experience/Skills: No on interviews, take notes, administration. specific requirement. Students are given work Day time (generally later year levels)—re- in accordance with their level of experience. search, drafting letters, case work, administra- Time(s) to Apply: Best times to apply are tion. around October/November for the following
Currently Accepting Volunteers: Generally year. there are no places available. However, oppor- Application Process: E-mail CV to volunteer tunities arise throughout the year and students co-ordinator as above. on the waiting list will be given priority. Time Commitment: Either one morning or Required Level of Experience/Skills: Any one afternoon at least once a fortnight but year level. Preferably students interested in preferably once a week. social justice issues. Mornings 10:15–12:30, afternoons 2:15– Time(s) to Apply: Any time. 4:30. Application Process: 1. Call centre and send in CV. 78
Law Students’ Society
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Central Highlands Community Legal Centre Ph: 5331 5999 E-mail: email@example.com Street Address: 34 Victoria Street Ballarat 3350
privacy; and telecommunications. Free legal advice is provided on Internet related law via the Oz Netlaw Website. Role of Student Volunteers: Research projects, maintaining research library, updating website, internet research, administrative tasks.
Postal Address: PO Box 1982, Bakery Hill Currently Accepting Volunteers: Not at the moment. Students are still encouraged to con3354 tact the centre. Volunteer Co-ordinator: Pat Prescott Required Level of Experience/Skills: Pref(Pat_ firstname.lastname@example.org). erably 3rd year law students and above. HowServices Provided: We provide free legal ever, all students are encouraged to apply for advice and referral services to disadvantaged the Semester One Program. people in the Central Highlands Region. We provide a duty lawyer to the Family Violence Time(s) to Apply: After January 2009. Court Division. We provide divorce self help Application Process: workshops twice a month. Community Legal 1. Students contact centre. Education—talks, seminars, forums, law reform. We have volunteer solicitors come in 2. Submit CV and cover letter. Include information regarding your availability. twice a week to see clients. Role of Student Volunteers: We have had so- 3. If place available, interview will take place. cial work students do their placements at the centre. They have taken on a research project. For example the last student we had researched legal needs for elderly people in our region. We currently have a law student volunteering in administration who will soon have the opportunity to sit in on some client interviews. We are always looking for administration volunteers. Communications Law Centre Ph: (03) 9600 3841 E-mail: email@example.com
Time Commitment: One day per week for a minimum of 6 months. Conservation Volunteers Australia Ph: (03) 9326 8250 Freecall: 1800 032 501 Fax: 9326 8239 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: 162 Adderley Street, West Melbourne 3003
Volunteer Co-ordinator: Lisa Litchfield (email@example.com Address: Level 1, 283 Queen St, Melbourne or 9326 8250). 3000 Services Provided: Better Earth Volunteers Volunteer Co-ordinator: Mishelle Predika are engaged in practical outdoor conserva(Mishelle_Predika@clc.net.au). tion activities including tree planting, weed Services Provided: Specialises in media, com- removal, fauna and flora surveys and heritage munications and online law and policy. Their restoration. activities include research, policy, education Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes. and legal advice in the areas of broadcasting; defamation; free speech; media ownership; Website: comslaw.org.au
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Required Level of Experience/Skills: No ex- Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes. Howperience/skills required, all training provided. ever, there may be a 3–4 month waiting period before starting time depending on the time of Time(s) to Apply: Anytime. the year. Applications welcome. Application Process: Complete a volunteer Required Level of Experience/Skills: 4th registration form. year or above. Time Commitment: Anytime. Time(s) to Apply: Any time. Consumer Action Law Centre Ph: (03) 9670 5088 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: consumeraction.org.au
Application Process: 1. Email cover letter, CV and results. 2. Informal interview. Time Commitment: Minimum of one 4 hour block per week during business hours.
Address: Level 7, 459 Little Collins St, Melbourne 3000
Darebin Community Volunteer Co-ordinators: Jillian Williams Legal Centre (email@example.com) and Kay Li Ph: (03) 9484 7783 Yeoh. Services Provided: The Consumer Action Website: communitylaw.org.au/darebin/ Law Centre is a campaign-focused consumer advocacy, litigation and policy organisation. Consumer Action provides free legal advice and representation to vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers across Victoria, and is the largest specialist consumer legal practice in Australia. As well as working with consumers directly, Consumer Action provides legal assistance and professional training to community workers who advocate on behalf of consumers. As a nationally-recognised and influential policy and research body, Consumer Action pursues a law reform agenda across a range of important consumer issues at a governmental level, in the media, and throughout the community directly. Consumer Action is dedicated to advancing the interests of low-income and vulnerable consumers, and of consumers as a whole.
Address: 265 High Street, Preston 3072
Volunteer Co-ordinator: Maria Georgiou (Maria_Georgiou@clc.net.au). Services Provided: Generalist Legal Service providing legal advice, info and referral services for specialised areas of law. Other services provided include the Darebin Intervention Order Support Service, Indigenous Legal Outreach Clinics, Outreach to men’s and women’s prisons and Community Legal Education Program. Role of Student Volunteers: Front Office Worker (day)—front office reception, handling enquiries from clients, making appointments or providing referrals and administration.
Community volunteer (night service)—taking clients’ statistics, supporting clients in understanding legal advice, referring clients to comRole of Student Volunteers: Assist solicitors munity services, administration and reviewing with research, policy and case work as well as client’s files. administrative tasks. Answer phone enquiries Project work—Community legal education, from members of the public seeking legal ad- programs and law reform to address correcvice and obtain instructions from the person tional issues (prisons), increase community about their problem. This information is then awareness about family violence, increase inpassed on to the solicitors who contact the digenous people’s access to DCLC and workcaller and provide the legal advice. ing with newly arrived communities.
Law Students’ Society
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Currently Accepting Volunteers: Front Of- though a few months prior to the end of the year we may have vacancies. fice—Currently available. Night service—waiting list. Recruitment in Application Process: Via website—volunteering at DDLS. January. Project Work—after front office four month roster.
Time Commitment: To apply, minimum of six month and at least 1/2 to 1 day per week.
Required Level of Experience/Skills: Any year level. To volunteer as a project worker, volunteers must have had experience as an of- Eastern Community Legal Centre fice worker. Time(s) to Apply: Daytime service—Any- Ph: (03) 9285 4822 time. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Night time service—November. Address: Box Hill Town Hall (at the rearApplication Process: end), Bank St in Box Hill 1. Call if interested. Volunteer Co-ordinator: Leonie Burnham (email@example.com). 2. Informal interview. Services Provided: Generalist Legal Service providing legal advice, info, referral and tar4. On the job training. geted ongoing casework assistance. The ComTime Commitment: Front reception—Half munity Legal Education program offers free day weekly for 6 months. information sessions on a range of legal matNight service—One night per month for 12 ters and publishes Wills Kits, Motor Vehicle months. Collisions Kits and Neighbourhood Dispute Project worker—Half to full day for 4 Kits. Outreach service provided and law reform activities. months. 3. Fill in application form.
Disability Discrimination Legal Service Ph: (03) 9654 8644 Country: 1300 882 872 TTY: (03) 9654 6817 Fax: (03) 9639 7422 Address: C/o Ross House Association, Inc. 2nd Floor, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: communitylaw.org.au/ddls Volunteer Co-ordinator: Anna Leyden— Administration Officer (email@example.com).
Role of Student Volunteers: Case work assistance—research, drafting letters, administrative tasks, cases.
Paralegal—meeting clients, taking statistics, sitting in on some interviews, drafting letters, administration. Administrative tasks.
Law Reform Assistance—research. Front office reception—administrative tasks, handling phones, reception tasks. Ringwood Magistrates Court—taking statistics from clients, conflict checks and general support.
Possibility of education or research roles in Services Provided: Legal advice, community the future. legal education, disability issues. Currently Accepting Volunteers: As reCurrently Accepting Volunteers: At present quired. we are not taking any more volunteers, alEquality Handbook
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Required Level of Experience/Skills: Any year level. Student needs good communications skills, organisation skills, commitment to social justice, time commitment. Preferably a genuine interest in family or criminal law.
Interns work full time during semester breaks assisting with all aspects of EDO work as per above—see website for details.
Time(s) to Apply: Any time for waiting list.
Required Level of Experience/Skills: Law students preferably at advanced stage of degree; see our website for further details. Additional relevant studies e.g. Science or Planning are well regarded.
Application Process: 1. Call centre if interested. 2. Provide details to be added to waiting list. 3. Informal interview.
Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes—periodic intakes.
Time(s) to Apply: Applications accepted any 4. Successful applicants will undergo train- time for different programs—see website for ing. details. Time Commitment: Half day or evening once Application Process: Complete application a fortnight. form available on website and send together with your CV. Internship application procedures may vary in future—check website for Environment Defenders up-to-date information. Office (Victoria) Time Commitment: One full day per week for semester volunteers; full-time 2–4 weeks Ph: (03) 8341 3100 for interns depending on time of year. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: edo.org.au/edovic
Address: PO Box 12123, A’Beckett Street PO, Essendon Community Melbourne 8006 (office is located in Leicester Legal Centre St, Carlton) Ph: (03) 9376 7929 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Mandy Johnson, Administration & Projects Coordinator Fax: (03) 9376 9748 E-mail: email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org or 8341 3102) Services Provided: The EDO is an independ- Address: Wingate Avenue Community Cenent, non-profit, community legal service, prac- tre, 13A Wingate Avenue, Ascot Vale 3032 ticing in public interest environmental law. Volunteer Co-ordinator: Simone Grieve. The EDO’s activities include: Providing the Services Provided: Generalist Community community with legal advice and representa- Legal Service providing legal advice, info, tion on public interest environmental matters; referral and ongoing casework assistance. developing and promoting community legal Specialises in family law and criminal mateducation programs; contributing to environ- ters. Refers on matters concerning wills and mental and planning law reform and policy. probate. The EDO aims to provide legal advice and as- Role of Student Volunteers: Taking client sistance to people who wish to protect the en- statistics, sitting in on interviews, research, vironment and who could not otherwise afford general administration, filing. legal assistance. Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes. Role of Student Volunteers: Day volunteers Required Level of Experience/Skills: Gencommit to work one full day per week during erally any year level, but it will depend on the semester period to assist with legal research, role applied for. For roles requiring client asparalegal tasks and administrative functions. 82
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Volunteers’ Directory 2009
ever, they will accept applications at any time for their waiting list. They have 2 to 3 intakes per year.
2. Centre will organise an interview.
1. Call centre for a volunteer package.
Time Commitment: 2–3 hours on a roster basis.
2. Fill in application form and send in CV.
Fitzroy Legal Service
4. An interview will take place.
sistance there is a preference for senior law students.
1. Email/Fax CV to Centre and a cover letter Time(s) to Apply: Any time for the waiting stating your volunteering requirements and list. Application Process: dates of availability.
Ph: (03) 9419 3744 E-mail: email@example.com Website: fitzroy-legal.org.au
3. When there is a vacancy, CLC will contact student. 5. Volunteers will undergo an induction to the service. Time Commitment: 3-4 hours per week or fortnight for at least 12 months.
Address: 124 Johnston Street, Fitzroy 3065 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Marilyn.
Flemington & Kensington Services Provided: Generalist Legal Service Community Legal Centre providing legal advice, info, financial counselling and referral to community organisations Ph: (03) 9376 4355 and ongoing casework assistance. Specialises Fax: (03) 9376 4529 in criminal law and dealing with young clients E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and clients with drug problems, mental health Website: communitylaw.org.au/ and intellectual disabilities. Law reform inflemingtonkensington cluding prison issues, discrimination, drug issues, police accountability, Women and the Street Address: 22 Bellair Street, Kensington Law Training Module, Legal Aid/CLC fund- 3031 ing and Access to Justice Issues. Community Postal Address: PO Box 487, Flemington, Legal Education via publications such as the 3031 Law Hand Book and the Services Directory Volunteer Co-ordinator: Simon Roberts for Drug & Alcohol Users. Outreach service at (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. North Richmond Community Health Centre. au).
Role of Student Volunteers: Day service— Services Provided: Our Legal Centre has Administration, office duties, research, publi- been established since 1980, and we consist of cations. a small, but committed, team of staff and volNight service—paralegal work, sit in on inter- unteers. We take client appointments during views, draft documents under supervision of our Monday Night Service, and do a variety solicitor and research. of general casework during the day, including Currently Accepting Volunteers: Check the wills, tenancy, housing and criminal matters. We also provide Refugee Offshore Immigrawebsite. tion casework during the day. We operate unRequired Level of Experience/Skills: Prefder a community-based model and are manerably students in 3rd year or above. aged by a Committee of Management. Volunteer places currently available: There are no places available at the moment. HowEquality Handbook
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Role of Student Volunteers: Day/reception volunteers—research and casework under the supervision of a staff solicitor, drafting correspondence and legal documents, reception work and general admin.
Address: 220 Nicholson Street, Footscray 3011 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Carol McNair.
Services Provided: Generalist Community Legal Service providing evening advice and Night Service volunteers—participating and a referral service. Intervention order support note-taking in client interviews, consulting the program, financial counselling and commusupervising solicitor with regards to difficult nity legal education. areas of the law, drafting of correspondence Role of Student Volunteers: Day volunand legal documents. teers—reception duties, answering phones, All volunteers are expected to assist with any dealing with clients, administration. ad hoc administration needs, and are required Night service—reception duties, sitting in on to attend two Training Nights a year. interviews and observing. Currently Accepting Volunteers: Not curCurrently Accepting Volunteers: Contact rently recruiting, but we accept CVs and apthe centre to check. plications from law students at any time, and Required Level of Experience/Skills: Any applicants will be put on the waiting list. level Required Level of Experience/Skills: We usually take on law students who are in their 2nd Time(s) to Apply: Any time. year or higher (whether combined or straight Application Process: law degree), but all applicants will be consid- 1. Call up. ered. We value in our volunteers the ability to work both independently and in a team, at- 2. Fill in an application form and send in CV. tention to detail, confidentiality, and research 3. An informal interview then a training session. skills. Preference is also given to students who live in the inner metropolitan or western re- Time Commitment: Day volunteers—half gions. day a week for at least three months. Time(s) to Apply: We accept CVs and appli- Night volunteers—a few hours each fortnight cations from law students at any time. for three months. Application Process: Please send an email, with your CV and contact details attached, to Gippsland Community email@example.com Time Commitment: For day volunteers—1 Legal Service day a week.
Ph: (03) 51330 411 or 1800 004 402 For Night Service volunteers—attendance on E-mail: Gippsland_Vic@clc.net.au Monday nights from around 5:30–7:00pm on Address: 162 Commercial Road, Morwell a weekly or fortnightly basis. 3840 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Meryl Watson (Admin officer/Intake co-ordinator). Footscray Community Legal Centre Ph: (03) 9689 8444 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Services Provided: Generalist Community Legal Service providing legal advice, information, referrals and assistance. Community Legal Education and Law reform. Matters include crime, family law, discrimination and equal opportunity, social security, employ-
Law Students’ Society
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 ment, victims of crime compensations and freedom of information. Outreach services also provided.
Required Level of Experience/Skills: Preferably later year law students who have studied employment law.
Role of Student Volunteers: Advice, research Time(s) to Apply: Any time. projects, administrative work. Currently Accepting Volunteers: No (currently unable to provide supervision due to Melbourne Citymission— Community Friend Program lack of staff—but please check). Required Level of Experience/Skills: Any year level, with preferences for senior year level students.
Address: 123 Albion Street, Brunswick 3056
2. Interview (plus police checks).
Role of Student Volunteers: Community Friend Volunteers offer social support to adults with a disability through leisure and recreation activities. There is an option of supporting a group with another volunteer on a monthly basis. Or, volunteers can be linked to one individual and together decide on the activities and when and where to do them.
Services Provided: The Community Friend Program is a social support program for adults Time(s) to Apply: Any time. with a disability. The program provides social group or one to one activities that allow peoApplication Process: 1. Contact centre and/or send in CV and cover ple living with a disability to access in a fun and inclusive way. letter. 3. Training. Time Commitment: Flexible. Job Watch Inc - Employment Rights Community Legal Centre Ph: (03) 9662 9458 E-mail: email@example.com Website: jobwatch.org.au Address: Level 5, 21 Victoria Street, Melbourne 3000 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Gabrielle Marchetti/Ian Scott (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Program Coordinators: Colin Schasser: (email@example.com or 9385 3222) and Pam Beaumont: (firstname.lastname@example.org or 9385 364). Required Level of Experience/Skills: No disability experience is necessary. It is desirable that volunteers have good social skills and clear and adaptable communication.
Application Process: Volunteer recruitment Services Provided: JobWatch is an employ- is ongoing and application will be accepted at ment rights community legal centre. JobWatch any time. There will be an application form to provides a free and confidential telephone in- complete, an interview to attend and all volformation and referral service for employees unteers will undergo a Police Check. For more and has a small legal practice that takes on information on the Community Friend Program or to apply for a volunteer role, please casework for disadvantaged workers. contact either of the program coordinators. Role of Student Volunteers: Assisting the leTime Commitment: It is expected volunteers gal practice with casework. would be committed for a 12 month period and Currently Accepting Volunteers: Students be available monthly for groups or fortnightly are encouraged to send in a CV and cover letfor an individual match. ter.
Volunteersâ€™ Directory 2009 Services Provided: Provides specialist representation, advice and legal service to anyone who has experienced a mental illness. Areas Ph: (03) 8344 8687 of expertise include: health complaints, Mental Health Review Board, criminal law and E-mail: email@example.com forensic matters, child welfare and family Website: union.unimelb.edu.au/legal law, discrimination law, guardianship & adAddress: 3rd Floor, Union House Melbourne min problems, and freedom of information. University 3010 MHLC provides community legal education Postal Address: PO Box 4310, Melbourne to those in the mental health field and under3000 takes research, law reform and policy work on Volunteer Co-ordinator: Greta Haywood mental health issues and the law. (firstname.lastname@example.org). Role of Student Volunteers: Legal research, Services Provided: Provides free and readily policy work, community legal education and accessible legal service to Melbourne Univer- administrative work. Melbourne University Student Union Legal Service
sity students and other eligible students.
Currently Accepting Volunteers: Places are Role of Student Volunteers: Sitting in on in- subject to availability at any time. terviews, research, drafting legal documents, Required Level of Experience/Skills: Prefconducting pre-interviews, community legal erably 3rd or 4th year. education and project work on legal issues that Time(s) to Apply: Any time. are of interest to students. Application Process: Required Level of Experience/Skills: Pref1. Send in CV and cover letter detailing when erably 3rd year or above, but enthusiastic secstudent is available and what student is inond years welcome to apply. Main selection terested in. criteria are enthusiasm and commitment! 2. If no place available, student put on waitTime(s) to Apply: Any time. ing list. Application Process: 3. If place becomes available, student will be 1. Send expression of interest and CV to called. email@example.com Time Commitment: Depends on studentsâ€™ 2. We will then contact you to arrange to availability, but at least half a day a week. meet.
Time Commitment: 3 hours weekly or fortMoreland Community nightly. Negotiable. Legal Centre Mental Health Legal Centre Ph: (03) 9629 4422 Freecall: 1800 555 887 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: communitylaw.org.au/mentalhealth
Ph: (03) 9383 2588 E-mail: email@example.com Address: 17 Sydney Road, Coburg 3058 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Carmen & Gordana (Gordana@morelandclc.org.au)
Services Provided: Generalist Community Address: 9th Floor, 10-16 Queen Street, Mel- Legal Service providing legal advice, inforbourne 3000 mation and referral to local agencies and onVolunteer Co-ordinator: Jill Richardson going casework assistance. Provides training for social and community service workers (Jill_Richardson@clc.net.au). 86
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Volunteers’ Directory 2009 and financial counselling. Specialises in welfare rights, domestic violence and family law, corrections and police issues, social security, criminal law, traffic matters and complaints against professionals.
Time(s) to Apply: Any time.
Address: 1st Floor, 504 Victoria Street, North Melbourne 3051
1. Call the manager to express interest. 2. Send in CV and follow up with a phone call to the manager.
Time Commitment: One day a week at a Role of Student Volunteers: Daytime servminimum. ice—research, drafting letters, admin duties including reception, answering the telephone and filing. North Melbourne Night time service—filling out client detail Legal Service sheets, supporting solicitors, sitting in on interviews. Ph: (03) 9328 1885 Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes, de- Fax: (03) 9326 5912 pending on need. E-mail: North_Melbourne@clc.net.au Application Process: 1. Contact centre. 2. Fill out questionnaire/application. 3. Initial induction/interview.
Postal Address: P.O. Box 512, North Melbourne 3051 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Mei Poh Lee, Manager.
Time Commitment: Half day weekly or fortServices Provided: Generalist Legal Service nightly for 6 months. providing legal advice, referral, information, Community Legal Education and ongoing casework assistance. Deals with family, crimiMurray Mallee Community nal law, uncontested civil matters, debt and Legal Service traffic matters, social security, motor accidents and other matters with a public interest on a Ph: (03) 5023 5966 case by case basis. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 122 Ninth Street, Mildura 3502 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Manager, Teresa Jayet (email@example.com) Services Provided: Generalist Legal Service providing legal advice as well as divorce classes. Community legal education program.
Role of Student Volunteers: Day time volunteer—casework, drafting letters, research, assisting Manager with database management, filing and other administrative tasks, answering phones, sitting in on interviews, and other tasks as may be requested from time to time.
Night time volunteer—preparing files for lawRole of Student Volunteers: Casework, pa- yers, taking clients statistics, sitting in on inralegal work, community legal education and terviews, research, support for client. administration. Currently Accepting Volunteers: — Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes, Required Level of Experience/Skills: PrefMMCLS is very interested in having students erably in third year or above but all applicaall year round. tions are considered. Required Level of Experience/Skills: Any Time(s) to Apply: Summer Program—Midyear level. dle of second semester/fourth term; Semester Time(s) to Apply: Any time throughout the programs—December and May. year.
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Application Process:
volved at our volunteer advice sessions (see 1. Send an e-mail to North_Melbourne@clc. below for role of paralegal volunteers). net.au asking for a Prospective Volunteers Role of Student Volunteers: Paralegal volunPack. teers coordinate the sessions, conduct a preliminary interview and provide assistance to 2. Fill in application form. legal volunteers (such as resource and refer3. If place available, you will be contacted for ral information and administrative support). an informal group interview. Paralegal volunteers may also sit in on client Time Commitment: Daytime—half a day per interviews to gain a greater understanding of week (9am–1pm; 1pm–5pm). legal issues and the advice required. Night time—6pm~8:30pm per fortnight. Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes. Summer—A full day per week for 10 weeks. Peninsula Community Legal Centre Ph: 9783 3600 FreeCall: 1800 064 784 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: Chatsworth House, Suite 1-4, 431 Nepean Highway, Frankston 3199
Time(s) to Apply: Anytime though paralegal training is generally offered twice per year. Application Process: Contact Head Office. Time Commitment: Weekly/fortnightly/ monthly for at least 6 months. Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) Ph: (03) 9225 6680
Volunteer Co-ordinator: Andrea Florance— E-mail: email@example.com Manager Volunteer and Education Programs Website: pilch.org.au (firstname.lastname@example.org). Address: 1st Floor, 550 Lonsdale Street, MelServices Provided: Peninsula Community bourne 3000 Legal Centre Inc. is a not-for-profit organisaPlease note PILCH is relocating at the end of tion that provides free legal services to anyone 2008. Check our website for more up to date who lives, works or studies in the municipalicontact information. ties of Frankston, Glen Eira, Casey, Kingston, Mornington Peninsula and Cardinia. Services Volunteer Co-ordinator: Rachel Brown, Coare provided by paid staff and volunteers from ordinator (Rachel.email@example.com or 03 our four branch offices—Frankston, Cran- 9225 6659). bourne, Bentleigh and the Pines (Frankston Services Provided: PILCH is an independNorth), with outreach visits to a number of ent not-for-profit legal referral service. PILCH other locations. Volunteers enable the Centre seeks to meet the legal needs of community to provide services well beyond our funding. groups, not-for-profit organisations and indiWe currently run eight weekly volunteer ses- viduals from disadvantaged or marginalised sions including three at Frankston, one at the backgrounds by facilitating pro bono legal asPines, two at Bentleigh, one at Cranbourne sistance. and one at Rosebud. We also have one volun- PILCH assesses requests for legal assistance teer session at Hastings on a fortnightly basis. and refers matters which meet means, merit At our volunteer advice sessions, qualified and public interest criteria to participating barlawyer volunteers provide clients with free risters, law firms, and legal departments who legal advice. Paralegal volunteers are also in- act for the client pro bono (free of charge). PILCH also engages in targeted law reform
Law Students’ Society
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 and advocacy work, and provides community Refugee & Immigration education and training. Legal Centre Role of Student Volunteers: Volunteers are responsible for taking initial inquiries and Ph: (03) 9483 1144 instructions from clients seeking legal assist- Advice Line: (03) 9483 1140 ance; assisting with assessment of matters ac- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com cording to eligibility criteria; drafting referral Website: rilc.org.au memos to law firms and counsel; drafting correspondence to clients; attend conferences be- Address: 95 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy 3065 tween clients, admin, solicitors and counsel; Volunteer Co-ordinator: Angela Dwyer attend the Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic. (9483 1144). Students may also assist with writing and ed- Services Provided: RILC is an independent iting newsletters, research and production of community legal centre specialising in refugee special publications, and organising special and family immigration law, policy and proevents. cedure. Provides immigration legal service, Currently Accepting Volunteers: Applica- assistance to asylum seekers, citizenship law, tions are open all year round. Check website casework, education, telephone advice, tribunal representation. Also runs a comprehensive for specific deadlines. Required Level of Experience/Skills: Final training and community education program. or penultimate year law students due to com- Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes we currently taking volunteers. plexity of work. Time(s) to Apply: Students may apply at any Role of Student Volunteers: Research and administrative tasks. time for an ongoing volunteer position. Applications for the Summer Internship should be sent by mid-October.
Time(s) to Apply: Applications are received all year around.
Application for the Winter Internship should be sent by mid-May.
Application Process: Please access RILC volunteer application form from the RILC website and mail in to RILC after completion OR ring 9483 1144.
Check website for specific deadlines. Application Process:
Time Commitment: Sunday clinic, Night 1. Send a CV and completed application form time and Weekday time slots available on a including days of availability. flexible basis. 2. You will then be contacted about your application. Time Commitment: Ongoing placements re- Reprieve Australia quire a commitment of a full day once every E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org two weeks. Summer and winter internships last for two Website: reprieve.org.au
weeks, during which volunteers work Mon- Address: PO Box 4296, Melbourne 3001 day–Friday, 9am–5:30pm with an hour’s lunch Volunteer Co-ordinator: Anna Martin. break. Services Provided: Reprieve Australia works to assist in the provision of effective legal representation and humanitarian assistance to those facing the death penalty at the hands of the state and raising awareness of associated human rights issues. Equality Handbook
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Reprieve Australia offers a volunteer internship program in which suitable applicants travel to the U.S. and provide direct assistance to legal offices representing people charged with capital crimes. Role of Student Volunteers: There are a variety of alternative volunteer options within the organisation for students interested in death penalty issues including general research tasks, a pen pal program with American inmates and other administrative tasks.
to assist those that slip through legal aid and are unable to afford a private solicitor. Role of Student Volunteers: Paralegals— writing letters, research, casework, administrative tasks. Later year law students will have more challenging and complex work to do. Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes. Required Level of Experience/Skills: Any level. Time(s) to Apply: Any time.
For further information see the Reprieve Australia website or email us.
Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes
2. Send in CV and Cover letter.
Required Level of Experience/Skills: None necessary, applications for the internship program are assessed on an individual basis.
3. Informal interview will take place.
Time(s) to Apply: Various. The internship program runs year round and we recommend students apply 4-6 months prior to their intended travel date to allow visas and suitable documentation to be finalised. Other volunteer positions are available year round.
1. Call up centre if interested.
4. If successful, then training. Time Commitment: Flexible and individually based depending on availability. Springvale Monash Legal Service Ph: (03) 9562 3144
Application Process: Contact the volunteer E-mail: email@example.com coordinator and detail the type of voluntary Address: 5 Osborne Ave, Springvale 3171 work you are interested in, any relevant prior Volunteer Co-ordinator: Carolyn Pabst. experience held and enclose copy of CV. Services Provided: Generalist Legal Service Time Commitment: Various. providing legal advice, information, referral and ongoing casework assistance. Also provides: Intervention Order Support Scheme which operates from Dandenong Magistrates’ Court, South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault/SMLC joint legal adPh: 1300 361 680 vice service, child support work and solicitor, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or civil litigation solicitor advocate, and email@example.com ducts community development projects in arAddress: 135 Kepler Street, Warrnambool eas of child abuse, corrections, medical issues, 3280 coronial process, Pasifika and Therapeutic juVolunteer Co-ordinator: Peter Sheen risprudence. (firstname.lastname@example.org). Role of Student Volunteers: The Volunteer Services Provided: Generalist Legal Service Program operates on Tuesday, Wednesday and providing legal advice, info, referral and limit- Thursday evenings. Fortnightly commitment ed casework assistance. Services are designed required. South-West Community Legal Centre
Law Students’ Society
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Night-time receptionists—front office reception, handling enquiries from clients. Night-time caseworkers—volunteers conduct client interview, research law, and discuss legal issues with volunteer supervisors who confirm the advice to be given to client. Currently Accepting Volunteers: There is currently a 4 to 5 month waiting list. Required Level of Experience/Skills: Penultimate and final year law students only.
pleting client statistics sheets, sit in on client interviews, assisting with research, supporting casework activities, administration. Currently Accepting Volunteers: None at the moment. There is currently a waiting list. Required Level of Experience/Skills: Preferably 4th and 5th years in St Kilda’s catchment area—Cities of Port Phillip, Stonnington and Bayside. Time(s) to Apply: Any time.
Time(s) to Apply: Any time.
1. Call if interested.
1. Contact the service and an application form will be sent to you.
2. Send in CV by post or email.
2. Complete form and send in CV.
3. If place available, interview takes place.
Time Commitment: 2–3 hours once a week, 3. You application will be kept on file and for at least twelve months. you will be invited to attend an Information Session before being placed on the waiting Sudanese Australian list. Time Commitment: Approximately 3–4 Integrated Learning hours fortnightly (7–10pm). A minimum 6 (SAIL) Program month commitment.
Ph: 9679 3272 E-mail: email@example.com
St Kilda Legal Service Co-Op
Ph: (03) 9534 0777 or 8598 6613 (direct)
Address: PO Box 21057, Little Lonsdale St, Victoria 8011
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 161 Chapel Street, St Kilda 3182
Volunteer Co-ordinator: Nik Tan.
Services Provided: The SAIL Program is a volunteer, non-profit, secular organisation that Services Provided: Generalist Service pro- provides free English support & community viding legal advice, information, referral and services to the Sudanese refugee community. ongoing casework assistance. Our areas of Tutors work one on one or in small groups casework include family law, family violence with recent Sudanese arrivals to Australia. (including intervention order matters), crimi- Role of Student Volunteers: Tutor and mennal law, debt, motor accidents, body corporate, tor infringement fines & civil matters. Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes Also provides a Community Legal Education Required Level of Experience/Skills: Enthuprogram, law reform activities and a drug outsiasm—that’s all! reach program. Time(s) to Apply: Any. Role of Student Volunteers: Day time service—support work to program workers, ad- Application Process: Online through the How ministration, draft letters, legal research, fil- Can I Help section of the website. ing, law reform and legal education; Night time service—assist receptionist with comVolunteer Co-ordinator: Anthea Teakle.
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Time Commitment: 2.5 hours per week, Saturdays only.
Website: vals.org.au Address: 6 Alexandra Parade, Fitzroy 3065 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Frank Guivarra.
Tenants Union of Victoria Ph: (03) 9411 1444 Advice Line: (03) 9416 2577 E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. au Website: www.tuv.org.au (you need the “www.”) Address: 55 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
Services Provided: VALS provides free case work assistance for Aboriginal people who have cases listed in Victoria. VALS provides representation in most criminal matters, some family law and some civil matters as well as referrals to other services such as financial counselling services for debt matters. VALS also provides after hours advice for Koori people who are in custody or who face arrest out of office hours.
Services Provided: TU provides advice and advocacy to more than 30,000 tenants annually through phone advice and drop in service. A range of publications and fact sheets are also produced and made available to tenants across the State. The TU are also actively involved in advocating policy change.
Role of Student Volunteers: Depending on interest, volunteers may assist in the preparation of legal case work, attend Court with solicitors to provide assistance and observe proceedings, research projects on law reform or policy as well as administrative work.
Role of Student Volunteers: Phone advice with occasional opportunity to become involved in policy/reform matters.
Time(s) to Apply: Any time.
Currently Accepting Volunteers: None at the moment. Please check website for vacancies (especially in Jan/Feb).
Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes Application Process: Call or email the service if interested. Time Commitment: Very Flexible.
Required Level of Experience/Skills: Penul- Villamanta Disability timate or final year. Some customer service Rights Legal Service experience is helpful. Application Process: Applications are ad- Ph: (03) 5229 2925 vertised on our website at least once a year (generally around February) and students are advised to check our website at that time to enquire as to when we are taking applicants and what the process is—we generally recruit about 10 people per year. Time Commitment: 3.5 hours per week. Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service Ph: (03) 9419 3888 Toll Free: 1800 064 865 E-mail: email@example.com
Free Call: 1800 014 111
Address: 44 Bellerine Street, Geelong 3220 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Sue Wolter. Services Provided: Villamanta is a free Statewide Community Legal Service that works only on disability related legal issues. Our main purpose is to make sure that Victorian people who have a disability know about the law, and use the law, to get their rights. Our main focus is the rights of people who have an intellectual disability. We provide freecall telephone information, advice and referral service, casework on disability related legal issues, community legal education and policy and law reform.
Law Students’ Society
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Role of Student Volunteers: Many and vari- Western Suburbs Legal Service ous, dependent on work available at the time, Ph: (03) 9391 2244 and skills/interests of the volunteer E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Welfare Rights Unit Ph: (03) 9416 1409 Advice Line: (03) 94161111 E-mail: email@example.com
Address: 30 Hall Street, Newport 3015 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Emel Ramadan. Services Provided: Generalist Legal Service providing legal advice, information, referral and ongoing casework assistance. Night service is also available.
Website: www.welfarerights.org.au (you need Role of Student Volunteers: Depends on level the “www.”) of experience—later year law students receive Address: 155 Easey Street, Collingwood more complicated and challenging work to 3066 do. Work can include sitting in on interviews, Volunteer Co-ordinator: Peter Horbury. research, writing letters, meeting clients, phoServices Provided: Specialises in advice tocopying, administrative tasks, community on any social security issues. WRU can help legal education and reform issues. with: working out whether a person in entitled Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes. to a social security payment, deciding which Required Level of Experience/Skills: Any social security payment is best, working out year level. how much a person should be getting, appealing a decision, and complaining about poor Time(s) to Apply: Any time, especially during the holiday period. treatment by Centrelink. Role of Student Volunteers: Casework, pro- Application Process: viding advice on social security issues (after specialist training) research for law reform or policy issues. Currently Accepting Volunteers: Varies, best to call and check.
1. Contact CLC.
2. Fill in application form and show evidence of enrolment in law degree (they do not require CV). 3. Attend information session.
Required Level of Experience/Skills: It is Time Commitment: Half a day once a week preferable that students be at least half way or fortnight. But quite flexible. through their law degree. Time(s) to Apply: Any time. Application Process: 1. Contact WRU to find out what positions are available. 2. Complete application form and send in CV.
Whittlesea Community Legal Service A program of Whittlesea Community Connections Ph: (03) 9401 6655
3. Information session.
Email: admin@whittleseacommunityconnec tions.org.au Time Commitment: Half a day per week/ fortnight. Address: Shop 111 Epping Plaza, Cnr High St & Cooper St Epping 3076 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Vanessa Torzillo (Vanessa_Torzillo@clc.net.au or 9401 6655).
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Services Provided: Generalist legal service providing free legal advice and referral to people living in the City of Whittlesea.
Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes.
Role of Volunteers: Front desk duties including answering calls, making referrals, assist solicitors with client follow up, general administrative duties etc. under the supervision of the Volunteer Co-ordinator & Principal Solicitor.
We require a commitment of one day a week for a minimum period of six months. It is an essential requirement that volunteers undertaking community legal education commit for a minimum of 200 hours or one day a week for 6 months.
Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes, though will be wait-listed until the next induction. Required Level of Experience/Skills: Any year level & non-students also invited to apply. Prefer someone with good organisational skills, ability to communicate in a culturally sensitive manner, committed to social justice, good written & verbal communication skills, good computer skills. Application Process: Phone Vanessa Torzillo on 9401 6655 Time Commitment: A Minimum of 4 hours per week.
Time Commitment: Business hours between 9am–5pm Monday–Friday.
Required Level of Experience/Skills: Students must be undertaking third year or above of a law degree, unless law is the second degree. Application Process: Contact the relevant staff member via the e-mail addresses provided (see above). If you do not have e-mail or have more questions, please contact Office Administrator, Rebecca Carbone (Rebecca_ Carbone@clc.net.au or 9642 0877). Wyndham Legal Service Ph: (03) 9741 0198
Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV) Ph: (03) 9642 0877 Fax: (03) 9642 0232 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 3/43 Hardware Lane, Melbourne 3000 Volunteer Co-ordinators: CEO, Gillian Dallwitz (Gillian_Dallwitz@clc.net.au).
E-mail: Wyndham_vic@clc.net.au Website: communitylaw.org.au/wyndham Address: Suite 10, 2-14 Station Place, Werribee 3030 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Cynthia Manson. Services Provided: Generalist Community Legal Service providing legal advice, information, referral and assistance. Deals predominantly in family, criminal and civil (debt and motor vehicle accident) law.
Law Reform & Policy Lawyer, Penny Drys- Also provides legal advice, representation, education, participation and projects for people dale (Penny_Drysdale@clc.net.au). Legal Educator, Allyson Foster (Allyson_ under 25.
Service runs a Family Violence Intervention Services Provided: WLSV is a statewide le- Order Support Project at Werribee Magistrates’ gal service for women. WLSV specialises in Court and Sunshine Magistrates’ Court. the area of “relationship breakdown and vio- Role of Student Volunteers: Assisting clients with forms, assisting solicitors with casework, lence against women”. Role of Student Volunteers: Assisting WLSV drafting letters, typing documents, research, lawyers with casework and legal research, law community legal education, assistance at court. reform and policy work or legal education. Foster@clc.net.au).
Law Students’ Society
Volunteers’ Directory 2009 Currently Accepting Volunteers: Yes
Required Level of Experience/Skills: Preferably 3rd or 4th year. However, all students are encouraged to apply.
1. Go to Youthlaw website and read about program and fill in application and fax in.
Time(s) to Apply: End of year. Application Process: 1. Call centre if interested. 2. Fill out and hand in application volunteer forms.
2. If a place is available you will be contacted. Time Commitment: At least a half day per week and we prefer a commitment of 6 months.
3. Interview with manager. 4. Induction session. Time Commitment: Around 3 hours/week, flexible between Monday–Friday typically 10am–1pm or 1–4pm. YouthLaw Ph: (03) 9611 2412 E-mail: email@example.com Website: youthlaw.asn.au Address: Frontyard Youth Services, 19 King Street, Melbourne 3000 Volunteer Co-ordinator: Director Ariel Couchman, however our preference is that you contact us via our website application process or email. Services Provided: Provides legal advice and representation to young people aged up to 25 years of age, advocacy and policy work on systemic issues, projects (e.g. human rights monitoring) and legal education to young people, youth workers and general public. Role of Student Volunteers: Casework support, policy and law reform projects on issues affecting young people, research and administrative tasks. Currently Accepting Volunteers: Applications welcome. Please go to our website and read about the program and fill in application form. Required Level of Experience/Skills: Preference for 2nd year and above.
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