QPILCH News - Issue 34 - April 2015

Thank you to everyone who has supported QPILCH so far this year. Here is just a snapshot of some of the great pro bono work being done by members of the legal profession. See our website www.qpilch.org.au for more information about QPILCH's services and activities. Please share this newsletter with your colleagues.

Civil Justice Fund launched on 18 March

The Civil Justice Fund (CJF) is a perpetual sub-fund of the Queensland Community Foundation. It was founded by QPILCH with seed funding provided by the Public Trustee of Queensland and Legal Aid Queensland.

At the launch of the Civil Justice Fund on 18 March 2015, we welcomed the Honourable Yvette D'Ath, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, and the Honourable Leneen Forde, former Governor of Queensland, along with many other dignitaries and members of the judiciary.

The CJF's patron, the Honourable Justice Margaret McMurdo AC, President of the Court of Appeal, kindly made the first donation and launched the fund, saying "By giving to the CJF ... and by encouraging your clients to consider a bequest to the CJF in their will, you will ensure that the dream of quality access to civil justice for Queensland's most vulnerable becomes a reality. It really is the gift that keeps on giving to Queenslanders forever."

Read more about the CJF...

Barristers help families through coronial inquests

Barristers David Purcell and Stephen Colditz both recently assisted families through coronial inquests, in separate matters referred by QPILCH's Pro Bono Referral Service. Both families were very grateful for the support at such a difficult time, and achieved results that helped give their families closure.

One family said: "The barrister, Mr David Purcell, was extremely helpful to us and we cannot fault his performance. He was professional and diligent in his representation and acted on behalf of the family in a skilled and expert manner. We wish Mr Purcell all the best in his future career and thank him kindly for his efforts in representing us."

Reflecting on his case, Mr Colditz said: "The successful outcome for the applicant is a model of how the QPILCH pro bono scheme contributes to the interest of justice. Thank you for the work of QPILCH staff and volunteers in assessing the applicant's application for pro bono assistance and in preparing my brief." Read more about the assistance provided...

Training caseworkers to identify legal needs

If someone is homeless or vulnerable and has a legal problem, they are more likely to tell a trusted community caseworker or support person than to approach a lawyer. In fact, in many cases they won't even know that their issue is a 'legal problem'.

One of the key collaborative tools of the Homeless Persons' Legal Clinic (HPLC) is our free caseworker training program, which we have developed over many years in consultation with partner community agencies and stakeholders.

On 20 March 2015, the HPLC delivered our fifth annual training day in 'legal basics'. We also recently provided training as part of 500 Lives 500 Homes and presented several in-house sessions for partner community agencies, resourcing over 120 caseworkers in identifying disadvantaged clients' legal needs and appropriate legal referral pathways. Read more...

HPLC lawyers help a young family after eviction

When Annie and Sam first met with our Homeless Persons' Legal Clinic at an inner-Brisbane community outreach service, they were homeless after being removed from their tenancy by the police. They were also experiencing severe financial hardship, dedicating the majority of their limited income to the care of their two young children.

Annie and Sam were facing urgent proceedings for criminal charges that related to their attempt at remaining in their home, and came to the HPLC seeking help with going to court. HPLC volunteer lawyers gave Annie and Sam advice about their legal rights and practical assistance in relation to appearing in court. Read the family's story...

Clinical Legal Education at QPILCH

QPILCH is a leading provider of clinical legal education, hosting 7 student clinics in conjunction with UQ, QUT, Griffith and Bond Universities. Coordinator of two of our student clinics, Andrea Perry-Petersen, writes about how students help QPILCH and themselves gain insight into legal work.

Despite some public perceptions of lawyers, many students - perhaps you were one of them - choose to study law at university "to make the world a better place".

At QPILCH students assist disadvantaged clients while learning professional skills. Opportunities also exist for policy work, community legal education and law reform. Read the full article...

More regional Queenslanders facing bankruptcy

Queensland's regional areas have the second-highest number of bankruptcy cases per capita of anywhere in Australia. According to data collected and published by the Australian Financial Security Authority, Queensland had a higher proportion of bankrupts in the population than the national average in 2013-2014. There was one debtor per 376 adults in Queensland as opposed to one in 546 in Australia. 5,592 people in Queensland were declared bankrupt for the year 2013-2014.

QPILCH's Self Representation Service provides free legal advice and assistance to people who need to respond to court action seeking to make them bankrupt.

The Service's coordinator, Elizabeth Pendlebury, said they had recently written to financial counsellors and other community sector workers throughout Queensland to raise awareness about the availability of advice and assistance through the Self Representation Service, and to let them know that QPILCH's service is available to regional clients can access the service by phone. Read more...

Helping a client facing bankruptcy

With the help of volunteer solicitors from TressCox Lawyers at the Self Representation Service, QPILCH client Gary was given help to defend a creditor's petition which was without basis.

Gary ended up in financial trouble after his small business failed, he was sued by his business partner and he received incorrect legal advice. He had to sell his house and developed depression.

Gary did not hear anything further from the solicitors until late 2014, when he was served with a creditor's petition, seeking to make him bankrupt. Gary then approached QPILCH's Self Representation Service for help. Gary learnt that the solicitors had no legal basis for bringing the creditor's petition. QPILCH assisted Gary to prepare his court documents and written submissions, and the petition was dismissed.

Thank you for your support

All client names have been changed to protect their privacy.


Queensland Legal Walk - 12 May

With just 4 weeks to go, you can register here!

The Walk will take place in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns, as well as across Australia. This year the top fundraising individual will be presented with the Justice Cup!

Welcome to new members

Welcome to QPILCH's newest members, James Cook University, which works closely with our Townsville office, and CBP Lawyers.

HPLC Street Soccer - 15 July

Save the date for the fourth annual HPLC Street Soccer social inclusion tournament, run with The Big Issue. Thanks to the Lady Bowen Trust for providing a generous small grant and to Clayton Utz for kindly catering.

Red Wine for Justice - 31 July

Save the date for the biannual Red Wine for Justice. This year's guest speaker will be Robert Channon of Robert Channon Wines. We are seeking donations of fine wine for auction and wine for drinking on the night.