A publication of the Australian Pro Bono Centre

Round-Up: 2 February 2023

Welcome to 2023's first edition of the Round-Up! 

The Centre’s team are back on deck and are excited for a productive year of growing participation and excellence in pro bono. 

This year, we'd love to hear from you.
What would you like to see in the Round-Up? 
Give us your feedback here!

Story of the week 

Thousands attend Invasion Day rallies as constitutional recognition becomes a flashpoint  
Tens of thousands of people have marked Australia’s national day by attending protest rallies in cities across the nation, amid a rising political and social reckoning with the country’s colonial history. 

National News

Victoria to abolish public intoxication laws 
Amid the 2019 coronial inquest into the death of Tanya Day, who died in custody after being arrested for public drunkenness, the Victorian government committed to repealing public drunkenness as a crime. The existing offence will be decriminalised in November 2023, and police will not be given any new move-on or arrest powers. 

Rule change allows South Australian government lawyers to resume pro bono work 
The South Australian government has scrapped a controversial rule that prevented Crown Solicitor and Director of Public Prosecution lawyers from undertaking voluntary work for people who cannot afford their own legal representation. The change means these lawyers can resume voluntary work through independent not-for-profit legal service JusticeNet SA. 

Four pro bono lawyers unlock in-person legal services for refugees in Northern Tasmania 
The Tasmanian Refugee Legal Service (TRLS) has announced it will band with law firm Rae and Partners to provide in-person legal aid to Northern Tasmanian refugees on a pro bono basis. Prior to this, there had been no in-person refugee legal service in Northern Tasmania, with the TRLS operating out of Hobart with six lawyers working on 400 cases statewide. 

“Breaking a community”: What it’s like to face eviction from public housing 
In mid 2022, Sydney public housing resident Carolyn Ienna received a letter informing her that her building was up for redevelopment by the government, and she would have to relocate from her home of over three decades. Together with Redfern Legal Centre, Carolyn has to navigate the long and complex relocation process that public housing tenants must endure when their housing is knocked down; a process that is becoming a common occurrence in Sydney’s inner-city suburbs. 

Updates from the sector

Save the date! Details for the 8th National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference announced

The Centre is delighted to announce that the 8th National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference will be held on Wednesday 21 June to Friday 23 June, Brisbane. The Conference will be presented by the Law Council of Australia, the Australian Pro Bono Centre and the Queensland Law Society.

PILnet 2023 Global Forum dates announced

PILnet has announced that the 2023 Global Forum will be held in Brussels from October 16-18 2023! Full details here. 

CLCs Australia Conference registrations extended

This year's CLCs Australia conference will be held in Nipaluna, Hobart on 22–23 March 2023. Full details here.

Whitlam’s Legal Transformations: Spotlight on Legal Aid (Indigenous Justice & Family and Domestic Violence) Continuing Professional Development Event

This inaugural event hosted by the Whitlam Institute on 17 February 2023 provides a spotlight on the Australian Legal Aid Office. The seminar will engage with issues of Indigenous Justice and Family and Domestic Violence which are central areas of legal practice and policy reform relevant to the work of Legal Aid Commissions across Australia. For more information, see here

Law Access informational videos

Law Access recently launched a series of informational videos for both pro bono seekers and providers. You can access the videos using the links below:  

For pro bono seekers:  

For pro bono providers:  

Climate Initiatives

Case study spotlight: Environmental Defenders Office and the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility challenges Santos Limited over alleged greenwashing 

In 2021, the EDO commenced proceedings on behalf of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility against Santos Limited in the Federal Court over alleged greenwashing. This was the first court case in the world to challenge the veracity of a company’s net zero target and has inspired similar claims overseas.

You can also view case studies from the Chancery Lane Project on the Centre’s Global Pro Bono Climate Action Portal.  

International News



Philippines: Law schools hailed for providing legal aid to poor during pandemic 
The Legal Education Board (LEB) awarded law schools who provided free legal advice to the underprivileged during the pandemic at the first Clinical Legal Education Program (CLEP) Summit held in Taguig City. The CLEP Awards form part of the LEB’s support of the Supreme Court’s law student practice rule, which requires law students to enrol in law-school clinics. 

Singapore: First community law centre opens in Hougang 
A community law centre has opened at Tian De Temple, aiming to bring legal assistance to those with mobility and technological difficulties. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, said: “This is the hallmark and essence of [a] CLC (Community Law Centre) – to be located in a place where people don’t feel uncomfortable...for the first time, there will be full-time lawyers serving the community through the CLCs.”


Secondary trauma and pro bono 
Pro bono work may involve supporting vulnerable or at-risk clients, which can impact volunteers’ own mental health. Claire Butler and Nina Garnham of the Law Society UK discuss the risks and how to protect your wellbeing. 

North America 

Canada: Toronto legal firm offers pro bono defence for shoplifting 
The firm 'We Defend You' has offered free defence for theft of basic necessities, highlighting Canadians' struggle with food price inflation. Frank Alfano of the firm told Global News that the current high cost of a grocery bill seems to have magnified the attention he is getting, but said he has always defended such cases pro bono.

USA: Columbus team helps pro bono client Harmony Project find permanent home 
Squire Patton Boggs attorneys Tom Kibbey and Jesse Taylor represented Harmony Project in connection with its long-term lease and management of the former Northland Performing Arts Center (NPAC), a performing arts and community center. 


ExpertsDirect Pro Bono Service  

A service for pro bono and community lawyers, connecting them with professionals who are willing to provide expert witness services for free or at low cost in legal cases assisting those experiencing disadvantage or marginalisation.

See our website for more information.

Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme

The Centre operates the Scheme to encourage and support in-house corporate, government and volunteer lawyers to undertake pro bono legal work. The Scheme provides free insurance to lawyers and paralegals working on pro bono projects approved by the Centre.

Click here to find out more about the Scheme or to apply for cover.

Social Justice Opportunities

For the latest career and volunteering opportunities:
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the various lands on which we work throughout Australia. We pay our respects to the Elders – past, present and emerging – and the youth who are
working towards a brighter tomorrow.
The Australian Pro Bono Centre is grateful for the funding support it receives from the governments of the Commonwealth and all states and territories, and the in-kind support it receives from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, Australian Government Solicitor, private firms, volunteers and the Faculty of Law & Justice at UNSW Sydney, which includes the use of the Faculty’s premises and facilities and support from student interns.

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