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QAILS Quarterly | Issue 7 | September 2014

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:
Photo by Damon Hatchett

Betty reunited with daughter after family law run-around

Betty* suffered health problems and financial difficulties after her marriage broke down, and she agreed that her husband Fred* could look after their four-year-old daughter Bella* for six months until she recovered. Fred did not return Bella to Betty in accordance with the agreement.
Photo by Damon Hatchett

Disability support needs are not child protection issues


Amy* was finding it increasingly difficult to care for her daughter Jodie* - who had severe disabilities and required total personal care and intense supervision - without adequate specialist disability support funded by the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.

High Court case clarifies
rights of people imprisoned
'at Her Majesty's pleasure'


Prisoners Legal Service recently represented two prisoners who had been imprisoned 'at Her Majesty's pleasure' in the 1980s. Their case proceeded to the High Court, which clarified the righs of people detained under this historical regime, finding that this practice did not contravene Chapter III of the Constitution, or the Kable principle.
 

New neighbourhood disputes website

With help from Holding Redlich, Brisbane City and students from UQ Pro Bono Centre, QAILS launched a new online resource for people who have problems with their neighbours.

Launch of Toowoomba
Collaborative Law Practice Project


In July 2014, The Advocacy and Support Centre commenced its Collaborative Law Practice Pilot Project.

Collaborative law provides clients with legal and other supports to assist them in reaching a fair agreement whilst also minimising costs, delays and stress. Collaborative law is a style of family law practice where clients and their lawyers work together to resolve a dispute with the assistance of a range of professionals from other disciplines without needing to refer to the court process. The Project's sessions are chaired by an external party, drawn from a panel of pro bono practitioners in Toowoomba.

QPILCH Public Interest Address

L-R: Allan English (English Family Foundation),
Lucy Bretherton (QPILCH President) and Brett McDermott (Mater CYMHS)
QPILCH would like to thank everyone who attended the Public Interest Address at Customs House on 7 August.  The Address is held each year to raise awareness about an important social or human rights issue.  The distinguished speakers this year were Professor Brett McDermott (Director of Beyond Blue and Executive Director of the Mater Child and Youth Mental Health Service) and Mr Allan English (Chair and Founder of the English Family Foundation).  The topic of “mental health and the law” generated much discussion and highlighted important issues such as the fact that only 3 out of every 100 people on involuntary treatment orders in Queensland are represented in the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

'Access all areas' to improve equitable access to CLC services


QAILS and Queensland Advocacy Inc. recently released 'Access All Areas', which considers the interface between generalist and specialist community legal centres in Queensland, in an endeavour to identify ways to support Queensland community legal centres to work more effectively together to deliver equitable and accessible specialist legal services in the public interest.
This report identifies the challenges for providing equitable access to services in a vast and decentralised state like Queensland, and discusses some of the alternative frameworks and models that have been developed in other jurisdictions.

Changes at Tenants Queensland


Tenants Queensland (formerly known as the Tenants Union of Queensland) is soldiering on, working hard to support renting households to understand and protect their rights following the Queensland Government's decision to defund Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Services. They offer services including:
  • tenant advice
  • helpdesk services for workers assisting tenants
  • tenancy law training and CPD points
  • tenancy information videos for Indigenous tenants
  • fact sheets for tenants in share houses (coming soon)
Find out more at www.tenantsqld.org.au

Tenants’ Queensland is also looking for volunteer lawyers to provide high quality advice, information, referral and support to tenants. A structured induction and training program will be provided enabling volunteers to build their knowledge of tenancy law and skills in telephone advice provision. Please encourage all your lawyer friends to apply!

Queensland community legal centres' use of technology

QAILS has recently released a literature review and discussion paper into Queensland community legal centres’ use of technology.

 
The report, developed with help from Allens and the UQ Pro Bono Centre, examines research literature to examine ‘what works’ in client-facing technologies (telephone, video-conferencing and internet), and particularly focuses on research of the use of technology to provide legal assistance for vulnerable groups in the community. It also identifies the value of an improved knowledge management system to share resources and improve training and knowledge flow.

The findings support much of the work happening in Queensland’s community legal centres, and provides some useful suggestions for building on that work.

What do CLCs mean to me?


Community legal centre staff, volunteers and friends from across Australia were in Alice Springs in August for the National Community Legal Centres conference. We were asked: What do CLCs mean to me?
[Thanks to participants and photographers!]

Project: How lawyers can empower communities to achieve change


QAILS director James Farrell has been awarded a 2014 Churchill Fellowship to investigate how lawyers can empower communities to achieve change. James will visit Canada, the USA and UK in 2015 to research the ways that communities are supported to 'take control' to create meaningful change to laws and legal systems.

QPILCH Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic Street Soccer tournament 2014

 
On Wednesday 20 August 2014, the third annual Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic (HPLC) Street Soccer tournament was held at New Farm Park, giving people experiencing homelessness and related disadvantage a socially inclusive and enjoyable event.   
 
QPILCH staff and volunteer lawyers from a number of HPLC partner firms, community host agencies and other supporters joined with players from the Big Issue’s Street Soccer Program for the tournament, which was also generously supported by the Lady Bowen Trust.
Herbert Smith Freehills were the winning team on the day and the Big Issue awarded the team from Khemistry ‘Best and Fairest’.
Susie Longman, Queensland State Manager of the Big Issue, kindly attended to support the teams and present the trophies.

LawJam 7 - Planning Law Overhaul


Join EDO Qld for the latest in a successful series of law reform workshops – where we explain and analyse the ever changing area that is Queensland environmental law. Recently, the Queensland Government proposed significant changes to planning laws, which will affect the rights of communities and individuals to have their say on planning and development in their area. We encourage everyone to come along and learn how these changes may affect you, and how to make your voice heard about the proposed changes.
 
The newly proposed Planning and Development Bill is to replace the Sustainable Planning Act 2009. The bill is a consultation draft and is open for comment until 23 September. Speakers David Corkill, Principal Planner at Buckley Vann, and Rana Koroglu, EDO Qld’s Law Reform Solicitor, will present information from planning and legal perspectives, followed by a Q&A. Those who attend will be informed and ready to comment on this important legislative change.
 
When: 6.30-8.30pm, Monday 15 September 
Where: Community Meeting Room, ground level, Brisbane Square Library, 266 George Street
What: A free legal seminar focusing on the Queensland Government's proposed overhaul of Planning and Development laws.
Speakers: Rana Koroglu and David Corkill.
RSVP: By noon Monday 15 September 2014 to
edoqld@edo.org.au or call (07) 3211 4466.
NB: Brisbane Square Library closes at 6.00pm; a security guard will let you in to the meeting room.

QAILS Director recognised in Queen's Birthday honours


In June, QAILS director James Farrell was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia, for service to the community, particularly through social welfare and legal access programs.

In the Australian honours system, appointments to the Order of Australia confer the highest recognition for outstanding achievement and service. The Medal of the Order of Australia is awarded for service worthy of particular recognition.
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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.

Some great publications from NACLC

QAILS Webinars
Free webinars for community legal centre staff, volunteers and friends

Child support
9:30am, Tuesday 9 September


CLC101
2pm, Monday 15 September


Debt recovery: From letter of demand to judgement
3pm, Tuesday 23 September

Practical tips for referring clients to EDR schemes
2pm, Thursday 2 October


Working with clients experiencing homelessness and specialist homelessness services
9:30am, Thursday 9 October


Insurance disputes
10am, Friday 17 October


Assisting people duped by door-to-door sales
10am, Tuesday 4 November

 
For the full list and to register, click here

Mediawatch

CLCs in the media

 
Why is it so hard to leave a violent relationship? Triple J Hack, 3 June
 
Rally gets the word out, Townsville Sun, 4 June
 
Free legal aid service opens, Townsville Sun, 4 June
 
Funding win for legal services, Maroochy Weekly, 5 June
 
Funding cuts to hurt centre, Gold Coast Sun-Central, 11 June
 
Funding cuts mean 'more women will remain in violent, abusive relationships', The Guardian, 12 June


Fence aids security at legal service, City South News, 12 June
 
Empathy forms leader, Echo, 12 June
 
Calls for action as elder abuse grows, 7:30 Queensland, 14 June
 
Attorney-general George Brandis set to silence CLCs, The Saturday Paper, 14 June


Qld Govt denies political favour for LNP donor, ABC World Today, 24 June
 
Justice for all is the underlying principle, Maroochy Weekly, 26 June
 
Watching the G20 watchers, The Courier-Mail, 27 June
 
Legal help in regions, The NewsMail, 1 July
 
Environmental Defenders Office decries public comment deadline for Aquis resort, ABC News, 2 July
 
ALA slams ban on CLC advocacy, The New Lawyer, 2 July
 
Meeting to highlight local resource projects, The Stanthorpe Border Post, 3 July
 
Help open to victims of violence, Dalby Herald, 4 July
 
Frontline health, legal services, and what’s crucial behind them, Crikey, 8 July
 
Healing the scars of domestic abuse, Caboolture News, 9 July
 
Right to object to Qld mining proposals changed, ABC News, 9 July
 
Lawyers who help people protect their rights aren’t the problem here, The Conversation, 10 July
 
All in a day’s work, Gold Coast Bulletin, 17 July
 
Legislation definition prompts warnings, Queensland Country Life, 21 July
 
Brandis ties NGO funding to non-advocacy, The Saturday Paper, 26 July
 
Let’s use our moment in the sun to let democracy shine, Courier Mail, 28 July
 
Catholic Prison Ministry's annual jail tours scrapped, Brisbane Times, 30 July
 
How AVOs Are Failing Our Most Vulnerable Women, Marie Claire, 31 July
 
Concerns Brisbane residents still unaware of G20 police powers, ABC World Today, 1 August
 
Environmental Defenders protective of mining objection rights, Brisbane Times, 6 August
 
Rent woe a two-way street, MX Brisbane, 6 August
 
Lending legal hand, Cairns Post, 7 August
 
See inside a shelter for victims of domestic violence and their families, ABC, 7 August
 
Welfare gagging claims denied, The Examiner Newspaper, 8 August
 
George Brandis under pressure as report points to inadequate funding for legal services, The Australian, 8 August
 
Big flap as environment group cries foul over removal of flying fox roosts, Cairns Post, 8 August
 
Hotline for legal help is available, The Chronicle, 14 August
 
Indigenous communities let down by legal system: Parliamentary hearing, Cairns Post, 14 August
 
Seniors speak up against abuse, Tablelands Advertiser, 15 August


Community legal centres worried about funding cuts, ABC PM, 15 August
 
TASC gives out legal advice to those who need it most, The Chronicle, 18 August
 
Harassment out, Maroochy Weekly, 21 August
 
New Structure For Family Legal Service, southburnett.com.au, 21 August
 
Lack of Funding Threatens Community Legal Centres, CAAMA, 22 August
 
Domestic violence victims in huge need, Sunday Mail, 24 August

 

 

Systemic advocacy

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

Inquiry on strategies to prevent and reduce criminal activity in Queensland
QPILCH
Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service
Youth Advocacy Centre Inc.
Queensland Advocacy Inc
Women's Legal Service
 
Domestic and Family Violence Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill
Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service
Women's Legal Service
 
Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill
Environmental Defenders Office
 
Review of Mental Health Act
Queensland Advocacy Inc.
QPILCH
 
Review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport
Queensland Advocacy Inc.
 
Environmental Offsets Bill
Environmental Defenders Office
 
Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Amendment Bill 2014
QPILCH
Tenants Queensland Inc.
 
UN's Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing
NACLC/Townsville CLS/Caxton Legal Centre
 
Senate inquiry into Domestic Violence
Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service
Women’s Legal Service
 
Senate inquiry into Abbott Government’s budget cuts
QAILS
 
Options Paper, Australia's Charities and Not-for-profits Commission
QPILCH
 
Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws
NACLC, QAILS and other CLC peaks  
 
Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) Payment Scheme Bill 2014
Queensland Advocacy, QAILS and other disability advocacy groups
 
Productivity Commission inquiry into access to justice
NACLC supplementary submission
QAILS
QPILCH
Transcript (18 June) QPILCH, QAILS
Transcript (19 June) Women’s Legal Service
Updates from
Community Law Australia

Advocacy and frontline services vital to achieve access to justice 19 June

Brandis restrictions starting tomorrow seek to silence community legal centres speaking out on unfair laws, policies and practices 30 June

ACT Attorney-General reveals benefits of law reforms initiated by a community legal centre 10 July

Budget cuts place free legal help further out of reach for Queenslanders 24 July

Budget cuts place free legal help further out of reach for South Australians 24 July

Budget cuts to free legal help hit vulnerable and isolated Victorians 31 July

Released review shows legal services need funding boost, not Federal Budget cuts or further “efficiencies” 11 August

National conference hears widespread concerns over restrictions on advocacy by community legal centres 14 August

Funding certainty call for Indigenous family violence legal help 22 August
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