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Kingsford Legal Centre
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Welcome to the September edition of the Kingsford Legal Centre e-bulletin highlighting significant positive outcomes for our clients, news from the NACLC national conference and the latest on proposed funding cuts. 

Visa Cancellation Success

We have recently received two long-awaited successful decisions for clients who have had their visas cancelled.

Our first client is a mother with two young Australian children. The client's permanent visa was cancelled on the basis of her criminal record, even though she arrived in Australia as a young child and never left. As a result of the decision not to cancel her visa, she can now resume life with her children.

In the second case, our client was facing deportation to Afghanistan. Our client left Afghanistan when he was only 3 years old, after his father and grandfather were murdered by the Taliban. His mother passed away while they were living in a refugee camp and he came to Australia when sponsored by an uncle in Australia. His visa was cancelled after he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of two years. As well as serving the full sentence, he also spent over a year in immigration detention, being transferred to centres all over Australia. KLC prepared extensive submissions for the client on the current situation in Afghanistan  and the extreme risk of persecution he would face if he were sent back as a young Hazara man with no family connections.

We are thrilled with both results, which are life-changing decisions for our clients. Huge credit to KLC solicitor Dianne Anagnos for her work for the first client and former KLC solicitor (now solicitor at Mid North Coast CLC) Haley McEwan for her work on the second. Many KLC students worked on submissions, collecting evidence and statements and researching the current situation in the clients' birth countries so a thank you to our students for their tireless work!

Funding Campaign Update

KLC has been working closely with our colleagues in the community legal centre sector to reverse the Federal Government's decision to drastically cut funding to the sector by 30% commencing in the 2016/17 budget year. These cuts go against the recommendations of the Productivity Commission's report on Access to Justice to immediately invest $200 million in additional funding into the legal assistance sector. In upcoming editions of the the e-bulletin we will be asking for your support in our efforts to ensure that there are no closures of CLCs as a result of this decision.

Victims compensation

In late July Kingsford Legal Centre both contributed to a combined CLCNSW submission into the review of victims compensation and prepared its own submission. Some of the key issues we raised were:
  • The gendered impact of the changes which disadvantage women who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • The emphasis on physical injury rather than psychiatric injury
  • The unfairness of how child sexual assault is precluded from some compensation due to time limits.
Victims Compensation Reassessment
KLC has filed nearly 20 victims compensation reassessment claims for clients who were negatively affected by retrospective and unfair changes to the law in 2013. These clients can now seek reassessment under the 'old' scheme. Some of our clients have been clients of the Centre for 9 years, as this process has continued to be plagued by delays. We have received the first reassessment decisions for our clients, who have been thrilled to receive more compensation. Most importantly for many of our clients, the pre 2013 scheme better recognises domestic violence and psychological harm. We are hoping these matters can be finalised quickly so that our clients can finally move on from this part of their lives.

Community Workshop Series (CLE)

KLC has now scheduled our Community Workshop CLEs for Semester 2. The series includes sessions on Employment Law, Working with Aboriginal Communities and an update on Domestic Violence laws.The workshops are free to organisations and community services which provide a service in the Botany Bay and/or Randwick Local Government areas. If you would like to be included on the email list for the Community Works CLE please send your  name, contact details and organisation to legal@unsw.edu.au

National Association of Community Legal Centres annual conference

Three KLC staff presented workshops at the annual community legal centre conference in August.  The theme of this year’s conference was Innovation and Collaboration.  The two workshops focused on our experiences of conciliation in discrimination matters for vulnerable clients and working with students and local communities.

Sad Farewell to our wonderful librarian Murray McWilliam

Staff at KLC are really sad to announce the departure of our librarian, Murray McWilliam, from the Centre.  Murray has been with us for an incredible 18 years, responsible for all of our dreaded loose leaf publications as well as library.  Unfortunately technology has caught up with us and we no longer subscribe to paper services and the library has shrunk considerably so we no longer need his services.  Murray has been a committed, professional and meticulous staff member and he will be sadly missed.  Thanks Murray for all your great work for us and we want to wish you all the very best for the future.

Spotlight on …
Mike Steinfeld

Mike Steinfeld’s commitment to social justice and his belief in “giving something back” led him to volunteer his services very early in his career.  He began volunteering at the Redfern Legal Centre in 1977 where he volunteered for over 4 years.  In 1984 he began his long association with Kingsford Legal Centre, volunteering on a fortnightly basis for an evening advice clinic for over 30 years!  He is a big favourite of both staff and clients so we felt it was about time we put the spotlight on him.

Your commitment to KLC's clients is legendary- what keeps you coming back?

I have to admit that if I didn’t show up on Dianne’s Tuesday night’s it would be curtains for me. But seriously it is the dedication of the KLC staff; their energy and dedication in helping clients is contagious.  I have formed a longstanding bond with KLC and its long serving and stable staff. 

What's the best part of volunteering?

Helping the clients to find a way out of their legal conundrum in a relatively straight forward manner.

What do you find most challenging about volunteering?

Dealing with clients who bring in folders full of paper and a life history to match seeking advice in a 20 minute interview, the commercial client who should go elsewhere and a client who expects me to use my social work skills which I don’t have.

What advice would your give a young lawyer who was thinking about volunteering at a community legal centre?

Volunteering at a community centre provides a balance to your professional career. It makes you understand the problems affecting KLC’s clients. Once you have the legal knowledge to assist others in a positive way you have a moral duty to act pro bono to assist clients who haven’t the resources to pay. Volunteering at a community legal centre allows you to rest your conscience.          

 

Copyright © Kingsford Legal Centre 2016
Address: Kingsford Legal Centre, F8-003, UNSW, 2052 
Telephone: (+61 2) 9385 9566
Email: legal@unsw.edu.au
 UNSW ABN 57 195 873 179
CRICOS Provider No: 00098G.

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KINGSFORD LEGAL CENTRE · F8-003 · UNSW · Sydney, NSW 2052 · Australia

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