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QAILS Quarterly | Issue 3 | September 2013

QAILS Quarterly

 

Highlighting the work of Queensland's community legal centres

Queensland CLCs have over 30 years of service delivery experience providing free information, advice and referral, casework and representation to the community.

Queensland CLC casework

Queensland's community lawyers provide a vital service to clients and communities across the state.  Here are a few examples of recent casework successes:

Legal assistance gives Ruby a voice
(and access to inheritance)


Ruby* is a disability support pensioner, living at real risk of homelessness and experiencing trauma-induced, mental health concerns. Ruby’s step-mother passed away and due to long-term family conflict caused by her brother, she was left inadequate provision in her step-mother’s estate. Ruby attended the Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic (HPLC) for advice about her rights. She was uncertain about whether she could access further entitlements through the estate, particularly given her financial difficulties and mental health needs. The HPLC advised Ruby about applying for a provision order, and entered into negotiations with the Public Trustee and the other privately represented family members involved in the proceedings.

After undertaking much advocacy work on Ruby’s behalf, the HPLC obtained consent from the other parties to attend mediation with Ruby. With this assistance, Ruby received a settlement amount of around $90,000 from her step-mother’s estate. Ruby expressed her gratitude to the HPLC, noting that the process and positive outcome had given her a ‘voice’ within her family for the first time in many years.
Photo by Damon Hatchett

People with disability in the
criminal justice system


Pete* is assessed as having an intellectual impairment with severe behavioural disorder and hearing loss. He displays aggression quickly when under stress. Pete was referred to the community legal centre at YFS Logan City after he was charged with common assault on a youth worker within his placement residence. Pete admitted his behaviour to the police and has no previous convictions.

YFS lawyers appeared for Pete in court in July 2013 where he was released absolutely and no conviction recorded. This is the lowest form of punishment/order available to a sentencing court. It reflects that the court viewed the offence as extremely minor in the circumstances, and perhaps unnecessary to involve a court.
 
The process of being arrested, interviewed by police and appearing in court (which was a new and strange process) caused Pete an extreme amount of stress due to his disability, and QAILS has used this example in a recent submission highlighting the issues facing people with disability in the criminal justice system.

Community lawyers help
vulnerable man to navigate QCAT


QPILCH’s Self Representation Service recently secured a successful outcome for Con,* an elderly gentleman who suffers with depression and received an application by an ex-partner for various alleged ‘debts’ incurred during their relationship. A decision was made by QCAT in Con’s absence and he approached QPILCH for assistance when he received notice of enforcement proceedings for the $20,451.60 judgment. The QCAT decision appeared erroneous on a number of grounds including that QCAT did not have jurisdiction to hear the dispute and that part of the judgment related to a debt owed by Con’s son, rather than Con.

QPILCH provided Con with considerable assistance through a series of telephone appointments (Con lives in regional NSW) to seek an adjournment of the enforcement proceedings, obtain reasons out of time, file a letter of complaint about the management of his file by a regional registry, and appeal the decision.  The appeal was allowed and the original decision set aside. Con also received a positive response from the Executive Director of QCAT to his letter of complaint, which QPILCH hopes will impact the management of future matters.  

This case highlights a number of areas in which QCAT practice can be improved; QAILS raised several of these in its submission to the review of the QCAT Act 2009 in February this year.
Photo by Damon Hatchett

Coming home to Australia


Raphael* arrived on a visitor’s visa. He had previously lost his permanent resident status after living overseas for some years and now wanted to return. On the flight in he became confused and tried to open an exit door on the plane and was hospitalised on arrival.
 
Raphael was assessed as having significant cognitive deficits, progressive dementia and impaired capacity, The Office of the Adult Guardian was appointed by the Queensland Civil and Administration Tribunal and the case was referred to RAILS. RAILS worked with the Adult Guardian to obtain instructions and lodge a successful application for a permanent visa based on Raphael’s continuing substantial ties to Australia. He had no ties overseas.
* Names have been changed.

QAILS history project

QAILS has received funding from the Commonwealth Government's Your Community Heritage program to record the history of the Queensland CLC movement.

If you have any mementos, photos or documents that might help, please contact us.
Please let us know if you would like to comment on the QAILS Reconciliation Action Plan - the draft will be released in September.

QAILS advocates for people with disability in the criminal justice system

Together with the National Association of Community Legal Centres, QAILS has provided a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission on the human rights of people with disability in the justice system. The case studies, sourced from CLCs across Australia, demonstrate that many people with disability who require communication supports, or who have complex and multiple support needs, are not having their rights protected and are not being treated equally in the criminal justice system.

The issues raised and recommendations put forward are based on the considerable experience CLCs have in assisting clients with disability, and those recommendations include:
  • Improving training to police, the judiciary, court staff, duty lawyers, prosecutors and private solicitors involved in the criminal justice.
  • Increasing availability and accessibility of legal services.
  • Improving data collection.

New service for people engaging with Royal Commission into Child Abuse


knowmore is an independent service giving free legal advice to people who are considering telling their story or providing information to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.

knowmore is completely separate from, and independent of, the Royal Commission. Their goal is to inform and advise people who are engaging or considering engaging with the Royal Commission and to support each person in making an informed decision.

knowmore has been established by, and operates as a separate program of, the National Association of Community Legal Centres Inc, with funding from the Australian Government, represented by the Attorney-General’s Department.

Find out more

On the world stage:
Stronger protections of
older persons’ rights

Townsville Community Legal Service’s principal lawyer Bill Mitchell was in New York in August, attending the United Nations’ Open Ended Working Group on Aging. Bill and Kim Boettcher from NSW's The Aged-Care Rights Service represented the National Association of CLCs, calling for the creation of a convention on the rights of older people.
The International Federation on Ageing was among the many groups applauding Australian community lawyers’ contribution, saying that the contribution ‘was conspicuous at the working session because of the accuracy of information and the ability to blend the legal facts about protection of the numbers of older people with the hard reality of what this looks like on the ground – at the coal face – situations that you and your colleagues would see on an everyday basis.’

Find out more about UN proposals to strengthen
the protection of the human rights of older people,
and NACLC’s position

New handbook gives clear information on mining,
coal seam gas and the law


In response to public demand for clear legal information, the Environmental Defenders Office (Qld) has prepared A Guide To Mining and Coal Seam Gas Law in Queensland, a plain-English legal guide to mining and coal seam gas law in Queensland.
The handbook was formally launched in Brisbane on July 11. However, its initial launch was on July 10 at Emerald’s annual Ag-Grow field day. The event appeared on ABC TV news that evening.
This is especially gratifying, as EDO (Qld) is making a particular effort to reach rural communities with the handbook. Since the launch, EDO has given several presentations based on the handbook, including one at the AGM of the Northern Gulf Resources Management Group in Chillagoe in August, and is also offering workshops on the topic.

Street soccer kicking goals

On Wednesday 17 July, the second annual Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic (HPLC) Street Soccer Tournament was held at New Farm Park, providing people experiencing homelessness with a socially inclusive event and a free BBQ.  HPLC staff and volunteer lawyers from Allens, Ashurst, Clayton Utz, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Herbert Smith Freehills, McCullough Robertson and Minter Ellison joined the Big Issue’s Street Soccer Program, Micah Projects, the 139 Club, the New Farm Neighbourhood Centre, the QPS and the Brisbane Roar “Possibility” Program. Corrs Chambers Westgarth took out the competition and the Big Issue awarded Minter Ellison ‘Best and Fairest’. The Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Chief Justice of Queensland kindly attended to present the winners’ trophies. 

Community education and training

Compensation and its effect on
Social Security Payments


On Friday 16 August, Welfare Rights Centre delivered training to personal injury lawyers, paralegals and junior lawyers from Carter Capner Law. The session  was designed to assist staff at the firm to understand the implications that settlement arrangements can have on their clients’ ability to claim social security payments in the future. Welfare Rights Centre assists many individuals who cannot access Centrelink payments because a settlement resulting from accident or injury has resulted in a preclusion period. There are steps Personal Injury lawyers can take to minimise the impact if they are aware of social security law and policy. 
 

Wills, estates and powers of attorney


At Coolum library on 18 July, Suncoast Community Legal Service provided information to community members about why they need a will; what happens if they die without a will; what is probate; can a will be challenged after death; how to go about updating a will and how to assist an older family member with their will.
 

The rights of children with
disability to education


Cairns Community Legal Service’s Disability Discrimination Legal Service (DDLS) was requested by Autism Queensland Cairns office (AQ) to conduct a workshop for staff, relating to the rights of children with a disability to education, with emphasis on the Disability Standards for Education.  AQ also requested a follow-up information session for parents of children with disabilities.

DDLS developed and presented the requested sessions, with focus on rights under the legislation and options available (including advocacy and complaints mechanism) where breaches occurred.  Early direct consultation between parents and education providers was stressed, in addition to contacting general advocacy organisations, such as Rights In Action, to assist in consultations.

A disturbing trend has been reported by parents, trying to enrol a child with a disability in a private school, of being told that the school has no resources to take on the child (without any consultation as to the actual needs of the child) and being told to enrol the child in a State school.  The basis for this ‘advice’ to parents is that the State system has more resources. Such rejection is clearly discriminatory, and arming support staff and parents alike with relevant information can only improve education outcomes for our children.
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If you're looking for services in your local area, our Centre Locator provides a map-based search of all accredited Community Legal Centres in Queensland.

Visit the QAILS website for more information about QAILS or Queensland's community legal centres.

Mediawatch

CLCs in the media
 

Consumers need a stronger voice in federal government, Courier-Mail, 30 August 2013
 
Keep trustees in the super loop, Townsville Bulletin, 27 August 2013
 
Access to justice this election: examining the major parties’ policies, Brisbane Line (4ZZZ FM), 22 August 2013
 
Debt chasing easier, Maroochy Weekly, 22 August 2013
 
Access probe to take economic approach, The Australian, 16 August 2013
 
Funds put legal help in reach, Maryborough Herald, 15 August 2013
 
Election promise to give easier access to free legal advice, Frasier Coast Chronicle, 13 August 2013
 
Aid shortfall threatens a pillar of our democracy, The Australian, 9 August 2013
 
Books detail CSG growth in state, The Queensland Times, 7 August 2013
 
Homelessness is more than rooflessness, Right Now, 5 August 2013
 
Dreyfus looks to raise legal aid funds, Brisbane Times, 1 August 2013
 
Volunteer offers vital advice and assistance, Gold Coast Sun, 1 August 2013
 
Tougher sentencing, 612 ABC Brisbane, 1 August 2013
 
Law within reach: QPILCH takes rural, regional and remote initiative, Proctor, August 2013
 
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie orders review into Qld's sentencing laws, ABC News, 31 July 201
 
Legal Aid needs to be preserved, Australian Financial Review, 31 July 2013
 
Legal aid celebrates 40 years, PM, 31 July 2013
 
Haves and have-nots of Dreyfus handouts, The Australian, 26 July 2013
 
Toe the line with licence, Maroochy Weekly, 25 July 2013
 
New handbook on law, The News-mail, 19 July 2013
 
Federal Government strikes deal with Queensland on emergency relief for drought-affected farmers, ABC News, 10 July 2013
 
Please don’t kill my vibe, Triple J Hack, 8 July 2013
 
Funding Call for Struggling Community Legal Centres, Pro Bono Australia News, 1 July 2013
 
Welfare providers unable to meet growing demand for services, The World Today, 1 July 2013
 
Neighbourhood's Centre's Legal Service to Continue, Nundah Spirit, June/July 2013

Weigh up cost of not being insured, Maroochy Weekly, 27 June 2013
 
The Roma Community Legal service holds child safety workshop, Warwick Daily News, 25 June 2013
 
Elders march for dignity, Townsville Bulletin, 25 June 2013
 
Demand for help rises as funds falter, Coolum Weekly, 14 June 2013
 
Lifeline for tenancy service, Whitsunday Times, 13 June 2013
 
Street march is all about respect, Townsville Sun, 12 June 2013
 
Federal government to fund state’s tenant service, Brisbane Times, 10 June 2013
 
Battling it out on political advocacy, The Australian, 7 June 2013
 
Community legal service seek volunteers, Caloundra Weekly, 6 June 2013
 
Lawyers tee off to raise cool $10,000, Maroochy Weekly, 6 June 201
 
State rejects $2.5 million from the Federal Government to fund support services for tenants, Courier-Mail, 5 June 2013
 
‘Low rent reply to funding offer’, Courier-Mail, 5 June 2013
 
There’s no place like HPLC: A ‘legal menu’ serves help for the homeless, Proctor, June 2013

Upcoming
QAILS webinars



CLC101
James Farrell, QAILS
1-2pm, Tuesday, 8 October
Register
 
Australian Consumer Law
Paul Burton, Clayton Utz
10-11am, Thursday, 10 October
Register
 
Civil procedure refresher
Sophie Devitt, DLA Piper
11am-12noon, Monday, 28 October
Register
 
Preparing wills for Aboriginal clients
Anne Cregan, Ashurst Australia
2-3pm, Friday, 1 November
Register

Assisting Queensland NFPs
Ros Williams, Caxton Legal Centre
2-3pm, Monday, 4 November
Register

Parenting and Post Separation Safety
Phoebe Kahlo, Women’s Legal Service
3-4pm, Monday, 18 November
Register
 

Policy and law reform


When assisting individual clients, CLCs see opportunities to improve laws, policies and practices to ensure real access to justice.  Here are some recent CLC policy projects and activities:

Submission on access to justice in the criminal justice system for people with disability, QAILS and NACLC, 15 August 2013
 
Access to Justice for ‘disadvantaged parties’, QAILS and other CLC peaks, 2 August 2013
 
Review of the Mental Health Act 2000 (Qld), Queensland Advocacy Inc, August 2013
 
Review of Mental Health Act, QPILCH, August 2013
 
Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013
Updates from
Community Law Australia

Guarantor case ‘exemplar of the critical work done by community legal centres’ says Judge 28 August 2013

Greens respond to problem of unmet legal need, but where do the other parties sit? 16 August 2013

CLA asks political parties to outline their plans to address the access to justice crisis 14 August 2013

Door to door and in-home sales techniques exposed 6 August 2013

Productivity Commission inquiry into access to justice risks neglecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 25 July 2013

Access to justice brought closer with $33 million funding boost 24 July 2013

Inquiry into legal barriers for people with disabilities a significant opportunity 24 July 2013

Important legal advisory service will improve access to Royal Commission 16 July 2013

Community legal centre help goes well beyond individual clients 16 July 2013

63% of community legal centres struggling to meet demand: ACOSS survey 1 July 2013

Productivity Commission inquiry a welcome and timely response to the access to justice crisis 20 June 2013

A Day in the Life… Celebrating the daily work of our local CLCs 19 June 2013

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 14 June 2013

Community Law Australia calls for more support for seniors on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 14 June 2013

Funding boost for Queensland Prisoners’ legal service will break down language and access barriers 13 June 2013

Upcoming events

 
Welfare Rights Centre AGM
5.45pm, Tuesday 15 October
Level 1, Maida Lilley Community Centre, 5 Green Square Close, Fortitude Valley


Senator Claire Moore will give the opening address and Gerard Paynter, Qld Managing Director of Barton Deakin, will speak on Social Benefit Bonds.  Social Benefit Bonds are an emerging part of the social services landscape, the requirement of which to produce measurable outcomes of a specific dollar value corresponds with the Qld government’s focus on outcomes and  ‘recommissioning’ of services.  The challenge for community services is how to engage with this new and sometimes daunting environment.  Brief AGM to follow, refreshments provided.

Queensland Advocacy Inc AGM
6pm, Friday 11 October
Kurilpa Hall
174 Boundary Street West End


QAI encourage people interested in disability advocacy to arrange nomination for our committee of management.  People with disabilities and people without disabilities are welcome. Details

PUBLIC FORUM
G20: dissent, police powers and international reviews of security implementation

5:30-7:30 pm, Thursday 26 September 2013
Banco Court
, Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law, 415 George Street, Brisbane


Previous G20 forums, such as 2009 London and 2010 Canada, have demonstrated that violent clashes between police and protestors and property damage can occur. This forum will consider the balance between protecting the right to protest and the need for special powers at large international events.

Speakers:
Supt Graham Coleman
Dr Tim Legrand
Dan Rogers

RSVP by 23 September
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