Record fundraising at Red Wine for Justice

Thank you!!!

Thank you to everyone who helped make Red Wine for Justice a fabulous success. We raised $80,000 on the night, including an auction record of $53,000 crowned by the premier lot – a bottle of 2008 Penfolds Grange Vintage donated by Andrew Crowe KC and won by Matthew Jones for $7,050.

Thank you to those who donated wines for drinking, auction and raffling, and to those who bid generously for our 44 auction lots.

We are especially grateful to our entertaining guest speaker, Justice Peter Applegarth AM, and to our special volunteers – our MC Bridget O’Brien, sommelier Andrew Buchanan and auctioneer Yianni Mooney.

All funds raised will enable LawRight to continue our financial counselling service for the rest of the financial year. This service increases the effectiveness of each of the pro bono Community and Health Justice Partnerships and responds to vulnerable community members who were further impacted by the March 2021 floods.


Copyright © 2022 LawRight, All rights reserved.


LawRight Newsletter - 30 September 2022

LawRight News, 15 September 2022

Proactive pro bono

Housing crisis
LawRight is on the frontline of the national housing crisis, which has now broadened to impact many groups in our community but has pressured vulnerable populations for decades, compounding other systemic inequities. LawRight was created to serve these communities, and we have included our clients’ voices in many proactive law reform activities. However, it is still our strategic pro bono collaborations with community support services that offer the greatest impact, especially at the “eleventh hour” when the client needs a legal help to avoid significant consequences.

Emergency help to avoid eviction into homeless
Last week, a young mother and her children faced eviction into homelessness. Her community worker connected her with us as she needed to defend a QCAT application just a few days later. Pro bono lawyers prepared submissions to which the landlord had no satisfactory response and the application was immediately dismissed. Her community worker wrote: “Thank you again for the most amazing support for [our client] during this time… this has bought [her] some more time to find a new residence.”

Crypto scam impacts Centrelink payments
Another client was caught by a cryptocurrency scam, which Centrelink interpreted as assets and stopped our client’s payments. This in turn impacted their access to housing. Our advocacy to Centrelink saw their payments reinstated.

Supporting women in prison
Our financial counsellor and staff lawyers deliver regular tenancy and financial literacy training to women in prison, strengthening their capacity to sustain housing post-release.

The long shadow of Robodebt
We shared our concerns at the first robodebt inquiry in 2017 and will be supporting people who want to engage with the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme.

Joanna, a survivor of family abuse, mental illness and homelessness found casual employment as a teenager, but her life was so chaotic that she did not report this income to Centrelink. Almost a decade later, when her life was getting back on track, she received robodebt letters from Centrelink, alleging a $20,000 debt. She said: “I cried… I thought – my life is ruined now. I’m going to be forever paying this back. I already had pressure and anxiety and it made me want to jump in a hole.”

Joanna entered into a payment plan which would take her more than 38 years to pay off. She continued to receive letters which “petrified” her the debt and took away her hard-won hope.

Red Wine for Justice

All our amazing LawRight services rely on fundraising. After 18 months of delay, we are ready for record bids at Red Wine for Justice on Friday, 14 October. Even if you can’t attend, nominate an agent, form a consortium or sort out your Christmas shopping list (not to mention your bragging rights!) with these auction highlights

  • Picnic for eight, hosted by the Hon Roslyn Atkinson AO and the Hon Ann Lyons
  • High tea for five, hosted by the Hon Margaret McMurdo AC and the Hon Margaret White AO
  • A dozen bottles of 2016 E.Guigal Hermitage Rouge, donated by Craig Rogers of King & Wood Mallesons
  • 2008 Penfolds Grange Vintage, donated by Andrew Crowe QC
  • 1980 Lindemans Bin 5734 Vintage Port, donated by the Hon Catherine Holmes AC

There are just a few tickets left if you want to register to attend. Book here: www.lawright.org.au/redwineforjustice.


Copyright © 2022 LawRight, All rights reserved.


LawRight Newsletter - September 2022

LawRight News, 15 September 2022

Real estate agents and domestic violence

The disturbing interplay between domestic violence and insecure accommodation is addressed by many LawRight services, as we bridge the gap between laws and lived experience. Despite legislated protections for tenants impacted by violence, neither tenants nor their real estate agents can easily navigate these complex scenarios. Community lawyers are needed to ensure a just and appropriate outcome.    

Jess lived in rooming accommodation with her abusive partner. When she confronted him about withdrawing money from her account he became violent, damaging the property and kicking down the door so it couldn’t be locked. Jess called the police, who made a police protection notice on the spot to protect Jess from further violence.

However, a week later, the real estate agent evicted her on the basis of ‘disturbing the peace’ and damage, required her to vacate in a fortnight, left her with a large repair bill and took her bond. All of these actions, even where lawful, miss the legislative intent. Jess tried to self-advocate and provided the agent with a copy of the protection order, but she was ignored and her experience of violence was minimised. On top of everything, the agent (black)listed Jess on a tenancy database, restricting her access to alternative accommodation. She moved in with her parents.

When Jess had a premature birth months later, the Mater hospital social workers were concerned about her housing stress and connected her to our on-site Health Justice Partnership. LawRight successfully advocated to withdraw the blacklist. We connected Jess to DV legal assistance to vary the protection order to include her child and are now addressing a number of debts and payday loans that Jess accumulated when leaving the relationship.

The social worker told us: “…access to onsite legal support has directly supported the best healthcare outcomes and a safe discharge from hospital for this vulnerable family. Great work and a great outcome”.

Bid by phone at Red Wine for Justice

If you are unable to attend Red Wine for Justice on Friday, 14 October, you can still help LawRight raise funds and emerge with a wine to prize. You can nominate a friend as your bidding agent – just let us know before the event who your agent is, and we will provide more details and ensure you receive the catalogues for the main and silent auctions on the night. Contact us at comms@lawright.org.au.

There are still a few tickets still left if you want to register to attend. Book here: www.lawright.org.au/redwineforjustice.

September law reform

Decriminalising begging, public intoxication and urination offences

Our Community and Health Justice Partnerships recently made submissions about these offences with the assistance of our member firms. We noted how public spaces offences increase and exacerbate homelessness, rather than resolve it. We also traced the impact of charges for these offences on training and work opportunities – with Blue Card Services routinely deeming these offences as unsuitable for people working with children. Understanding and addressing the causes of these behaviours in the homeless population, enabling people to access relevant health and social supports and not imposing unmanageable fines are all better uses of policing resources. We also met with Inquiry staff and our community worker colleagues at the Anglicare Homelessness Hub in Cairns to discuss the causal links between public offences and homelessness. Read our submission here.  

These views also informed our public response last month to comments from a Gold Coast councillor who advocated for a return of the vagrancy act in response to homelessness.

Defamation

LawRight has been extensively involved since 2019 in the reshaping of national defamation laws, given that these matters represent up to 18% of the practice of the State Courts office of our Court and Tribunal Services. We want to ensure that the challenges faced by self-represented litigants who manage or comment on social media platforms are properly considered, as they are indicative of people with low household income who struggle to navigate complex processes. Our recent (and fifth) submission argued for a simpler, fairer complaints and defence process. Read it and our other submissions on the Model Defamation Provisions here.


Copyright © 2022 LawRight, All rights reserved.


LawRight Newsletter - 31 August 2022

Bridging the gap

LawRight positions lawyers at locations and into processes where people who are already vulnerable need legal help. Without lawyers, their situations are likely to worsen and opportunities for stability inevitably reduce. This newsletter highlights three processes where the impact of our members’ pro bono intervention is profound.

Victim survivors of violence

People who are homeless (or at risk of homelessness) experience higher rates of violence, including sexual violence, but accessing support for victims is not easy. Liaising with bureaucratic systems and obtaining relevant medical and psychological reports is complicated and can potentially re-traumatise.

Our Community and Health Justice Partnerships lawyers help bridge this gap and deliver this support in conjunction with the health and social workers at the community locations we partner with. Over 15% of our files are Victim Assist applications and in 21/22 we secured >$146,000 of financial support and access to support services to help victims recover. Many more clients were guided to advocate for themselves. Some of these outcomes have taken years to secure or have been rejected initially, so we are also working on systemic change with the agencies involved.

Access to work and training

LawRight assists with almost 30% of Blue Card reviews at QCAT, and >50% of our clients with Blue Card reviews are referred to us by QCAT. Over 20% of clients we assist with Blue Card matters have the decision of Blue Card Services set aside. While the safety of children is paramount, the reasons why a person is denied a Blue Card (working with children check) often intersect with their vulnerability. People from remote Indigenous communities or with a history of living with domestic violence may be denied Blue Cards for reasons that are typical of systemic disadvantage (such as lack of opportunity to respond effectively to criminal charges). These same reasons are barriers to meaningful participation in BCS’s assessment of their circumstances, yet adverse decisions impact their access to employment or further training and frequently take over two years to review. LawRight’s co-location at QCAT (and our research into these challenges) is critical to disrupting these cycles of inequity.

Complex litigation

Litigation in the District and Supreme Courts is high-stakes financially and technically difficult to navigate. LawRight relies on the resources and skills of pro bono barristers and law firms to bridge the gap – for the whole of Queensland. Over 60% of our clients are referred by Legal Aid Queensland or other Community Legal Centres that do not have the expertise or resources to support clients in these matters.

Proceedings discontinued for massive debt
A defendant named in a Supreme Court claim for more than $500,000 believed he was not responsible for the debt and the co-defendant agreed. Without funds to afford a lawyer, they prepared and filed an inadequate defence. It took multiple appointments with pro bono and staff lawyers to prepare amended defences, make and respond to requests for particulars, undertake disclosure, prepare for various review hearings, and draft affidavits setting out their side of the story.  These are complex processes that most typical Australians cannot navigate by themselves. Eventually, the plaintiff agreed to discontinue proceedings against both defendants. Our clients told us the assistance they received was “invaluable” and that they could not have done it without our help.

“Kind soul” whose representation ended decade-long case
Irene has severe and complex mental health issues which impact her ability to engage in the legal process. She was the defendant in District Court proceedings that started in 2008 and limited progress had been made.  The Court asked LawRight to assist and a member barrister took a direct brief to represent Irene at mediation, where the matter finally settled after more than a decade. Irene appreciated the “kind soul” who gave “some of the professional time to assist the less privilege[d]”. 

We agree that LawRight members are kind, but perhaps they are motivated even more by the essential and strategic link between access to justice and the rule of law, which protects us all.

Red Wine for Justice – Friday 14 October 2022 
Red Wine for Justice is another opportunity to be kind and increase access to justice! Secure the fabulous auction wines and raise funds to support all LawRight services. We are sorry the event has changed dates so often – if you aren’t sure if you (and your friends) are registered or not, please email comms@lawright.org.au to check. Additional tickets are available at www.lawright.org.au/redwineforjustice.


Copyright © 2022 LawRight, All rights reserved.


RWFJ Update - 11 August 2022

Red Wine for Justice – August update

New date confirmed – 6pm, 14 October 2022

We are delighted to announce a new date for Red Wine for Justice – Friday 14 October.

We have moved all the lovely wine back into storage and look forward to a Spring event.

All tickets remain valid and we look forward to seeing you on 14 October. If you can no longer attend and would like a refund or to transfer your ticket, please contact us at comms@lawright.org.au. More tickets will be available shortly at www.lawright.org.au/redwineforjustice.


Copyright © 2022 LawRight, All rights reserved.


LawRight Newsletter - August 2022

Red Wine for Justice
Red Wine for Justice was scheduled for Friday 29 July, but with covid continuing to rampage, we postponed it. We are all disappointed and our sincere apologies to everyone inconvenienced by this change.

The event is now rescheduled for Friday 14 October and we will reopen registrations soon. All tickets from previous dates remain valid, and there will be more available.

We are looking forward to finally enjoying this elusive event.

From crisis to capability

Our Mater Health Justice Partnership and our Financial Counselling Service rely on your generosity at our fundraising events. Both of these services help clients shift from crisis to capability. We adapt our approach as the client needs, to carefully build their knowledge and self-advocacy skills.

As a young HJP client recently reflected: “You left me with initiative but still helped me when I needed it.”

16-year-old Tara has no trusted and responsible adults to turn to. When she had to vacate her regional student rental to access treatment and rehabilitation at the Mater, the landlord (who had been advised of her circumstances) demanded additional rent and issued a breach notice. Tara felt unheard and overwhelmed. LawRight negotiated the withdrawal of the breach notice, waiver of the remaining rent, the return of the bond and the reinstatement of Tara’s clean rental record.

After learning to trust us, Tara disclosed a history of sexual abuse. We helped her apply to Victim Assist Qld and linked her with Mater clinicians to provide trauma support and counselling.

After learning to trust herself, Tara reached out after she was fined while driving without supervision on L-plates – she had been buying groceries for younger family members who rely on her support. LawRight armed her with the knowledge and confidence to self-advocate and the fine was downgraded to a caution.

When Tara was impacted by the 2022 floods and couldn’t access disaster payments, she reached out to LawRight again and we linked her with our Financial Counsellor. Together, they are building Tara’s financial literacy, increasing her resilience and helping Tara access her entitlements.


Copyright © 2022 LawRight, All rights reserved.


LawRight Newsletter - July 2022 - Red Wine for Justice

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Thank you for registering to attend Red Wine for Justice on July 29, 2022. This email has some important logistic notes as well as updates on the event. We still have some tickets so please consider inviting a colleague or friend today for a guaranteed great night. Tickets available here​​​​​​​.

Please notify us about any allergies

Our hosts are catering for a range of dietary preferences but if you have a specific food allergy we should know about, please advise us at comms@lawright.org.au by COB Wednesday 20 July.

Covid safety

The venue is well-ventilated with large outdoor spaces and we’ve made some changes to the event to make it covid-safe, such as how we are serving food and drinks. Please do not attend if you have any symptoms. We are happy to provide a refund if you’re unwell. Our hosts Herbert Smith Freehills have also asked us to circulate their covid message:

To ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our people and guests, we will require all attendees at this event to be double vaccinated against Covid-19. Please do not attend this event if you have been identified as a close contact or high risk contact to a positive Covid-19 case in the last 7 days. We hope you feel comfortable to join us for this event and ask that you please ensure you are familiar with our Covid-19-Meetings and Events disclaimer.

We’ve raided the cellar..

All the donated wine is now out of the cellar and ready to be enjoyed by you on the night or won by you at auction. Thanks to our generous donors, there are 50 lots to choose from, at either the silent or main auction. Auction booklets will be available on the night but we will continue to publish highlights until the event.

We have your name on the door list

All registrations and changes for tickets to the event have been recorded and will be on the door list without the need for printed tickets. You simply need to attend and be checked in.

Our latest newsletter is available here, and includes auction highlights and what to look forward to on the night, including:

  • Bid for a picnic for eight, hosted by the Hon Roslyn Atkinson AO and the Hon Ann Lyons
  • Bid for a high tea for five, hosted by the Hon Margaret McMurdo AC and the Hon Margaret White AO
  • Enjoy great conversations,  fine wines for drinking and gourmet winter food
  • Ponder the musings of His Honour, Justice Peter Applegarth, our special guest speaker
  • Join the fray at the wine auction
  • Delight guests at your next celebration with your silent auction success – lots include 6 bottles of 2000 Kilikanoon Clare Valley Oracle Shiraz, or a stunning 6 bottles of 2016 E.Guigal Hermitage Rouge (with a further 6 bottles available in the main auction)

Register now at www.lawright.org.au/redwineforjustice


Copyright © 2022 LawRight, All rights reserved.


LawRight Newsletter - July 2022

We’re looking for new premises

The Queensland Law Society has been our landlord since July 2017 but the lease has now ended and we are looking for new premises near the CBD. If you can assist our search in any way, please contact Joint Director linda.macpherson@lawright.org.au for our rental specifications.

Magistrates Court service to pause

Regrettably, we have paused our service to self-represented litigants in the Magistrates Court, due to insufficient funds.

LawRight uses your donations to deliver innovative services that are not government-funded but respond to critical access to justice needs. Three such services are our Financial Counselling service, a Health Justice Partnership to vulnerable young adults at the Mater Young Adults Health Centre and our pilot self-representation service to the Magistrates Court.

The Magistrates Court service commenced in July 2021 and assisted 86 clients with over 220 advice sessions or task assistance to progress their matters, resolve their disputes, and navigate their proceedings more effectively.  Proceedings in this jurisdiction can be just as legally complex as they are in the higher courts. Litigants still face the potentially ruinous impact of adverse decisions, the potential for costs orders for failing to understand process and procedures, and the stress and difficulty involved in navigating our legal system. However, the most vulnerable litigants in this court don’t have access to legal advice or representation for their civil law matters.

Despite this need we decided to pause the Magistrates Court service at the end of June, due to insufficient funds. We will continue to assist existing clients where possible but will not intake new clients until we review this decision in January 2023.

Increasing success with a financial counsellor

When women exit prison, they can face a barrage of debts that have grown in complexity during their incarceration and impact their capacity to build a stable future. Working with our lawyers, our financial counsellor helped a young parolee secure the waiver of >$20,000 debt and prevent repossession of her car by resolving an additional >$20,000 loan, which infringed responsible lending practices. The refund we secured helped the young woman as she re-integrated into society.

Each of our unfunded services relies on your donations with annual operational costs of >$100,000 per service. Your support always counts!

Give with pleasure!

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Red Wine for Justice is a wonderful opportunity to support LawRight and have fun in the process.  You can still register for yourself and your friends and start planning your version of pleasure. Will you…
  • Bid for a picnic for eight, hosted by the Hon Roslyn Atkinson AO and the Hon Ann Lyons?
  • Bid for a high tea for five, hosted by the Hon Margaret McMurdo AC and the Hon Margaret White AO?
  • Enjoy great conversations,  fine wines for drinking and gourmet winter food?
  • Ponder the musings of His Honour, Justice Peter Applegarth, our special guest speaker?
  • Join the fray at the wine auction?
  • Delight guests at your next celebration with your silent auction success – lots include 6 bottles of 2000 Kilikanoon Clare Valley Oracle Shiraz, or a stunning 6 bottles of 2016 E.Guigal Hermitage Rouge (with a further 6 bottles available in the main auction)
  • All of the above?


Copyright © 2022 LawRight, All rights reserved.


LawRight Newsletter - June 2022 - Red Wine for Justice

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Celebrate pro bono winter style

Join us for Red Wine for Justice on Friday 29 July, starting at 6pm. Only $80 to enjoy fabulous drinking wines (highlights below), winter feasting, the drama of the wine auction and His Honour Justice Peter Applegarth as our wonderful guest speaker.

Register for Red Wine Justice here

RWFJwines

Legal literacy training for community workers

233 staff from 75 health and community organisations registered for LawRight’s Caseworker Training event, held over three days in early June.  People experiencing crisis and vulnerability struggle to recognise their legal needs and navigate complex systems. This free training increases the capacity of frontline workers to identify civil legal issues experienced by their clients, support and refer them for help. This was the tenth event LawRight has coordinated and the first held on-line, enabling workers from around Queensland to attend. Up to 50 people attended each of the 12 sessions on topics such as Domestic Violence Orders, consumer and credit disputes and support for crime victims. Lawyers from FisherDore, Maurice Blackburn, LAQ, Womens’ Legal Service, QAI, Tenants Qld and LawRight presented, together with advocates from Qld Youth Housing Coalition and Brisbane Emergency Response Outreach Service.


Copyright © 2022 LawRight, All rights reserved.


LawRight Newsletter - June - Barristers

Dear LawRight member barristers,

Thank you for your ongoing support of LawRight. It was a pleasure to see such strong support from the Bar at the Queensland Legal Walk and we also hope to see you soon at Red Wine for Justice (date to be confirmed very soon).

For the first time, we are offering auto-renewal of LawRight membership. If you renew your membership online, next year your membership fees will automatically be deducted, unless you opt out. We’ve answered some FAQs below, or feel free to contact us with other queries on (07) 3846 6317 or members@lawright.org.au.

 

renew now

 

Why move to automatic renewal?
This process will significantly reduce the administrative burden of membership renewals for LawRight and our members.When will the next payment happen?
Your next membership payment will be scheduled for 12 months from your first payment. At least 14 days before the payment is schedule, you will receive an email and have the opportunity to opt out.

How much is membership?
Your membership fee is calculated based on your years at the bar.

First year – $20
2-3 years – $100
4-5 years – $175
6+ years – $280

What payment method do you accept?
You can pay by credit card (including AMEX) or direct debit. If your details change in the next 12 months and the payment doesn’t go through, we’ll contact you to update your details.

Why be a LawRight member?
As one of our existing members, you may have directly impacted a vulnerable client through your pro bono work with LawRight, or have read our client stories, reports and submissions and want to support our strategic pro bono legal assistance. At her Welcome Ceremony, the newest member of the Supreme Court, Her Honour Melanie Hindman QC, referred to her pro bono work (including with LawRight) as one of the greatest achievements of her legal career.

More information is on the Barristers page on the LawRight website.

You’re making me use tech?
It’s barrister friendly! We tested it with the barristers on our management committee! Our learned friends Hamish Clift, Angela Rae and Andrew Crowe QC got through the process in a couple of seconds, so you can too!

 

renew now
Any questions?
Please give us a call on (07) 3846 6317 or email members@lawright.org.au.Yours faithfully,
Sue Garlick and Linda Macpherson
LawRight Joint Directors