Welcome to the November edition of the Kingsford Legal Centre e-bulletin.
Pictured: KLC Solicitor Dianne Anagnos & Principal Solicitor Emma Golledge
Victims Compensation Law Rollback
KLC, victims and other community legal centres have achieved a major win in law reform in victims compensation. The NSW Government has reversed part of their changes to the law in 2013, so that now victims whose applications were in the system at the time of the change can get compensation under the old law. This means increased amounts of compensation for many of those who had their applications in on 7 May 2013.
The change in the law has had a huge impact on our clients who have experienced child sexual assault, sexual assault and domestic violence. The long delays in processing applications meant many of our clients were affected by the previous law change because victims services were extremely slow in assessing their claims.
People who had already lodged victims compensation claims when the law changed on 7 May 2013 can now apply to have their claims reassessed under the old law. KLC is in the process of contacting all our clients who were affected. If you think you might be affected, please contact the Centre on 9385 9566 or firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment.
Pictured: Kooloora Community Centre, Malabar
Law Reform News
KLC Wins Greater Protections For Vulnerable Tenants
KLC, working collaboratively with Marrickville, Redfern and Illawarra Legal Centres, and the Eastern Area Tenancy Service, recently won greater protections for public housing tenants through our law reform campaign on the ‘Public Housing - Antisocial Behaviour Bill’. This Bill passed Parliament in mid-October and means many tenants will have their tenancies automatically ended for some antisocial or criminal behaviour, even if the tenant knew nothing about it. The Bill would have allowed a new policy, where if there are 3 minor ‘strikes’, the tenancy is ended.
The amendments which KLC and other CLCs have won, give the Tribunal power to look at all the evidence and exercise discretion in tenancies affecting children, people with disability and domestic violence victims. KLC’s other wins are extended time limits for review; limited use of anonymous statements; and some limits on mandatory termination based on occupants’ behaviour.
We are still concerned about the potential impact of the Bill, especially the risk of evicting vulnerable tenants into homelessness and the removal of Tribunal discretion in some key areas such as repairs. We will continue to work with government on the implementation of the legislation and closely monitor the impact that it has on our clients.
KLC Gives Key Evidence About Penalty Rates To The Productivity Commission
Kingsford Legal Centre surveyed its clients about the impact of potential changes to penalty rates on their ability to pay their bills. Our clients were clear in telling us and the Productivity Commission about how cutting of penalty rates would impact harshly on their families. Maria Nawaz, KLC’s Employment Solicitor also opposed:
- any increase to lodgement fees
- decisions being made 'on the papers' in unfair dismissal matters
- reductions to penalty rates
- changes to the general protection complaint process
KLC argued for small business also being covered by unfair dismissal law and recommended the FWC publish a conciliation register and actively seek feedback from parties and their representatives on conciliation experiences.
KLC also supported increased resources for the Fair Work Ombudsman across all matters, including migrant workers. We followed this up with a written submission, available on our website here.
The Productivity Commission is due to release their final report in December 2015.
Behind The Scenes At KLC
This month's update is brought to you by KLC Director Anna Cody.
KLC’s students did a brilliant job on our annual Anti-Poverty Week Bake Sale last month, baking up a storm and raising over $2000 in funds for Kooloora Community Centre.
Our Aboriginal Outreach Advice Clinic has moved from every second Tuesday morning to every second Wednesday afternoon – it’s still at the Aboriginal Health Centre down at Yarra Bay House.
We bid farewell to Herbert Smith Freehills secondee John Nash in October – John has finished his 6 months with us and we are really sad to see him go.
Welcome to Jen Wu, our new secondee, and Nick Ngai, who has joined KLC as a solicitor on a 6 month contract. We all look forward to working with them.