A publication of the Australian Pro Bono Centre

Round-Up: 16 March 2023

Story of the week 

‘Australia needs a human rights act,’ say key legal bodies
On 7 March, the Australian Human Rights Commission released a position paper outlining its proposal for a human rights act for Australia. The proposal is welcomed by key legal bodies, including the Human Rights Legal Centre and the Law Council of Australia. 

National News

Pro bono about relationships, not just hours
Bartier Perry CEO Riana Steyn and Senior Associate and Pro Bono Manager Kamran Khalid discuss the importance of approaching pro bono work with the same professionalism and commitment to quality as commercial work.

IWD 2023: How Fiona Geminder's philanthropic work with Justice Connect is keeping women and children safely housed
This International Women’s Day, Justice Connect spoke with its philanthropic partner, Fiona Geminder, on her approach to achieving social change through philanthropy and the importance of integrated legal and social work support in preventing homelessness for women and children.

How Sydney’s international students are at risk from tough work restrictions
From 30 June, pandemic-era laws that allowed international students to study remotely from abroad and to work unlimited hours will be withdrawn, leaving them vulnerable to wage theft and dodgy housing schemes.

Youth justice: Raising age of criminal responsibility gathers pace in Victoria 
The age of criminal responsibility in Victoria of 10 is among the lowest in the world. A long running campaign to raise the age is close to success, with Premier Daniel Andrews committing in February to do so within weeks.   

Updates from the Sector

EXTENDED to 15 April – Request for submissions on global ESG and pro bono study

The Australian Pro Bono Centre and PILnet are partnering on a global study to examine the interaction between ESG and pro bono. We encourage law firms, in-house legal teams, public interest organisations and academics to participate. Provide your submission by 15 April by clicking here.

REMINDER: 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, in Brisbane. The Conference will be presented by the Law Council of Australia, the Australian Pro Bono Centre and the Queensland Law Society. Note that the conference convenes on Wednesday evening from 5pm. Registration page to be launched very soon!

Climate initiatives

Case study spotlight: MinterEllison and the Climate Foundation

MinterEllison has provided over 950 hours of pro bono legal advice to the Climate Foundation, an Australian organisation tackling the impacts of increasing ocean surface temperatures on seaweed forests, by implementing marine permaculture projects in Australia (and beyond) to regenerate kelp and other seaweed forests. Read the full case study here

Have a climate case study to share? Submit it here.

International News


Asia Pacific

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre authorised to represent clients
The legal team at the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) has been granted permission to represent its clients in court. Previously, FWCC had to discontinue representing third parties due to not being a law firm.

Access to justice in rural New Zealand at risk, Mayor warns
After a small wooden courthouse in rural Aotearoa was closed six months ago, a Mayor is now warning other small communities that they could be at risk of losing access to justice without warning or consultation.

North America

Boston residents saving thousands of dollars annually with Harvard Law’s Consumer Protection Clinic
Harvard Law School’s Consumer Protection Clinic gives law students an opportunity to defend and protect low and middle income clients dealing with debt collection, consumer bankruptcy and predatory mortgages, eliminating $10,000 in debt for community members in a single day.

UCMed and Legal Aid Chicago launch $2.6 million project to provide in-hospital legal support to trauma patients
The new Recovery Legal Care program offers access to civil legal aid for patients and their families affected by intentional violence. With two full-time lawyers working at the University of Chicago Medical Centre’s trauma center, the initiative provides assistance with essential needs such as navigating housing services, public benefits and employment.


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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