LawRight Newsletter - November 2020

Celebrating 2020

Although 2020 offered many challenges, your pro bono efforts brought lasting and positive change for many.

The legal profession delivered 33,383 pro bono hours in 2019/20 through LawRight – increasing access to justice at 21 community, health and court locations. 

From supporting a woman with disabilities at a defamation mediation to helping a young survivor of sexual violence navigate Centrelink or restoring dignity to an elderly Torres Strait Islander women who lived without hot water for 8 months  – these opportunities to bring change are the reason LawRight exists.

Our Annual Report has all the details – of our legal casework and services, law reform, events and supporters. It is a “blockbuster”, featuring stories and impacts from each of the locations where we partner. We hope you enjoy it and will bring you highlights from the report in a summer newsletter series, starting in December.


Reconciliation Action Plan

LawRight is both proud and privileged to have launched our RAP. For centuries the legal system had added to challenges faced by First Nations people, and LawRight believes this places an additional responsibility on lawyers to provide constructive and culturally safe services to these clients. LawRight’s new Acknowledgment of Country  echoes the aspirations of the Uluru Statement, which we whole-heartedly support.


AGM

As well as tabling the Annual Report and launching the RAP, we also launched our new website.

at our recent AGM. We farewelled Damien O-Brien QC and Matthew Jones from the Management Committee and are grateful to all new and continuing members of the Committee.

LawRight Management Committee 

President – Roslyn Atkinson AO

Treasurer – Tony Denholder, Ashurst

Secretary – Gabriella Ritchie, McCullough Robertson

Tania Boal, MurphySchmidt

Katie Clarke, MinterEllison

Jacqueline Wootton, Herbert Smith Freehills

Francesca Bartlett, TC Beirne School of Law

Andrew Crowe QC, BAQ

Binny De Saram, QLS

Angela Rae of Counsel

Hamish Clift of Counsel


Team Work

Seventeen LawRight staff registered for the recent Darkness to Daylight challenge to raise awareness for women experiencing domestic violence. Each participant walked, ran or cycled 100km throughout October or teamed up to count joint kms. LawRight has supported D2D every year since its creation in 2014 by our Life Member Rob Reed.


Summer break

We hope you enjoy a refreshing summer break. LawRight offices are closed from COB Wednesday, 23 December 2020, reopening on Monday, 11 January 2021. Next year LawRight turns 20 and we are already planning a series of celebrations, which we look forward to sharing with you in the new year. 


LawRight Newsletter - June 2020

June 2020

Pro bono stays strong

Your skills, time and donations enabled access to justice for these recent LawRight clients:


Barry Thornton Legal…

Helped an elderly client who had been pressured into a mortgage by her children. They negotiated with the bank to release her from the mortgage debt.


Josh is a young university student with multiple disabilities who failed a compulsory course after he couldn’t reach an agreement with his university about what adjustments would be reasonable for his final exams. Complaints to the university and the then Anti Discrimination Commission Queensland did not resolve the problem. Josh asked our QCAT service for help and Gillian Shepherd provided pro bono help for a satisfactory outcome. Joshua repeated the course with a credit and has agreed adjustments for all future exams.


Zoe invested in and worked for the plaintiff’s business. Under a separate arrangement she received bonuses, but new managers were unaware of the arrangement and sued for $500,000 of fraud and contractual breaches. Zoe paid lawyers to file a defence and then ran out of money, so pro bono lawyers on LawRight’s roster at the State Courts helped her settle the dispute for less than $3000.


Jane’s landlord tried to evict her when he realised she needed an assistance dog and eventually Jane left the property at considerable expense. After a failed conciliation arranged by the Australian Human Rights Commission, Jane commenced an anti discrimination action in the Federal Circuit Court. LawRight’s pro bono roster offered Jane several appointments to prepare documents, prepare for directions hearings and attend mediation where the dispute was settled favourably, allowing Jane to recoup all her losses and re-establish herself.


Clayton Utz volunteers helped a client from a homelessness service who lost his job following a mental health episode and then fell into arrears with his social housing provider. Clayton Utz advocated at QCAT, preventing his eviction into homelessness and are still working to stabilise his debts and income.


A dispute about rental damages and arrears was resolved with the help of volunteer lawyers at Holding Redlich. A vulnerable young client they met through a youth service, reduced her repayments by two-thirds and avoided a tenancy black-listing.


Pro bono lawyers from Ashurst successfully appealed a Department of Housing and Public Works decision refusing to list our client on its social housing waitlist. The client is now on the list and waiting for appropriate housing.


Hamish Clift appeared pro bono at QCAT for a young man we met at the Mater who wanted to remove the Public Trustee as financial administrator so that he could manage his own finances. Despite the challenges of multiple disabilities, his family and medical specialists confirmed he was capable of achieving his goal to purchase a car. Before LawRight’s involvement, this young man was frustrated, prone to outbursts and depressed. We helped secure his housing and supports and with success at QCAT, he’s now saving for a car and is “a different person”.


A Hall & Wilcox secondment has supported LawRight in its work with forensic patients with Mental Health Review Tribunal hearings. These patients are receiving involuntary mental health treatment relevant to criminal charges and are generally subject to intensive monitoring regimes. The secondment has increased LawRight’s capacity and has been well received by clients, including Eleanor who said the hearing went ‘really well’ despite having the order confirmed. She thanked us for our clear advice and wants our help at the next review.


A psychologist at Wuchopperen connected her client to LawRight’s on-site, integrated legal service. Annie suffers with acute generational trauma and wanted her son released early from prison. The son’s mental health conditions resulted in several attempts of suicide, so LawRight reached out to Prisoners Legal Services who arranged for his early release. Annie’s reunion with her son has improved the whole family’s well-being according to the psychologist: “[Annie] is feeling much more hopeful than over the few last months”. Annie would not have sought our help without the encouragement of her psychologist and these referrals from trusted health workers are key to responding to the justice needs of our most vulnerable First Nation clients.