Kingsford Legal Centre
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Welcome to the March edition of the KLC e-bulletin. All the new students have settled in, and it's been busy at the Centre with lots happening in community legal education and casework. We've also released the #MeToo: Legal Responses to Sexual Harassment at Work report, that forms our submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission's National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces. We have also said farewell to our Director, Associate Professor Anna Cody and wish her well in her new role at Western Sydney University.

KLC launches joint report on sexual harassment

Kingsford Legal Centre, Redfern Legal Centre, Women’s Legal Service NSW and the National Association of Community Legal Centres have recently released a joint report #MeToo: Legal Responses to Sexual Harassment at Work. The report also forms our submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces and includes details of the experiences of our clients.
The report outlines the endemic nature of sexual harassment in workplaces across Australia, our clients’ experiences, and inadequacies in the current law and complaints system. We suggest key legislative, regulatory and policy reforms to reduce sexual harassment, increase reporting, and radically change workplace culture. The report makes 47 recommendations to build a culture where women can access and enjoy their right to work, in safe workplaces that are free from sexual harassment.
KLC continues to work across all areas to reduce the impact of sexual harassment and improve the effectiveness of legal responses. We continue to roll out our innovative community legal education program targeted at high school students. The ‘Me Too, It’s About You’ workshops aim is to start a conversation about sexual harassment and to educate young people around their rights and responsibilities in relation to sexual harassment. Through the workshops KLC hopes that the students will understand what sexual harassment is, be able to identify it in day-to-day life, and know what they can do to help put a stop to it. We continue to offer legal advice to anyone in NSW who has experienced sexual harassment.
You can read the full report on our website here.

Visa cancellations – access to legal help changes lives

KLC recently helped, for the third time, our client Chris, object to the cancellation of his visa on character grounds. Chris has a serious mental illness and receives very little support, and as a result he has a lot of convictions, mostly for minor offences.  As he had been sentenced for over 12 months his permanent residence visa was cancelled. Chris had come to Australia as a toddler but had never applied for citizenship. He had never been back to his country of birth and had no connections there and could not speak the language. Chris would not be entitled to welfare help there and risked homelessness in an extremely cold climate if deported. Chris’ family, who all live in Australia, were terrified that he could not survive this. KLC helped Chris by visiting him in prison and making submissions on his behalf seeking the re-instatement of his visa. As a result of these submissions we were successful and his visa was reinstated and Chris has now left immigration detention.
Last year KLC solicitors gave evidence to the Federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Migration’s inquiry into the visa cancellation review processes. You can read our written submission here. Our submissions focused on the experience of the people that we assist who have had their visas cancelled due to a criminal conviction carrying a sentence of 12 months or more. These people are often extremely vulnerable and have lived in Australia for many years. If their visa is cancelled, they are kept in immigration detention throughout the review process and risk deportation to a country they have little connection to. Last month, the Joint Standing Committee tabled its report following the inquiry, including a dissenting report from some members. You can read the reports here.  
KLC remains concerned about visa cancellations especially for vulnerable people like Chris. Our experience is that access to legal help is especially critical in ensuring that people have an opportunity to outline their circumstances and the impact of the cancellation on them.

Exposing the housing exploitation of international students

KLC was recently quoted in a Sydney Morning Herald article about unfair and exploitative housing practices for international students. We have been concerned for some time about the experiences of international students who often seek our assistance regarding their housing. This can be extremely stressful for students who know little about Australian law and have limited social supports in a new country. Frequently we see students arrive in Australia to find the accommodation they had organised is not available, is not what they were expecting, or who are asked to pay huge sums of money in advance of rent with bonds not usually lodged with the Rental Bond Board.
KLC has been working with Eastern Area Tenants Service and has raised these issues with regulatory bodies, and we continue to monitor these practices. We are also working on a bilingual legal information package for international students so that they are aware of their rights when it comes to finding accommodation in Australia.

Community Legal Education Wrap Up

#MeToo Meets the Law
KLC solicitor Natalie Ross, pictured with Simon Nolan, President of the Rotary Club of Maroubra, recently attended a Rotary Maroubra meeting to speak on the topic of ‘MeToo Meets the Law’. Natalie spoke about sexual harassment in the workplace, how our current laws deal with this, and two current relevant inquiries – one by the Australian Human Rights Commission into sexual harassment in the workplace, and one by the NSW Law Reform Commission into the definition of consent in laws relating to sexual assault.

Knowing your rights as a renter
KLC secondee solicitor Naomi recently presented at the Housing Renters’ Forum at Margaret Martin Library in Randwick. The forum, organised by Randwick City Council, gave renters an overview of their rights and responsibilities, as well as discussion of common problems renters face. Naomi presented on issues relating to debt, utilities and discrimination that may affect renters. Other presenters included staff from Eastern Area Tenants Service and the Tenants’ Union of NSW.
KLC students deliver community legal education workshop
In March, our students presented the Legal Basics and Referrals workshop at Maroubra Library with KLC solicitor Natalie Ross. The aim of the workshop was to give a basic overview of our legal system and introduce different types of services community workers can refer their clients to. All participants enjoyed the presentation and gave some great feedback, including the comment that the presentation was “perfect basic info for an introduction – very relevant to work – thank you!”


Farewell to Anna 

KLC and UNSW Law officially farewelled our Director, Associate Professor Anna Cody who is leaving the Centre to commence as Dean of Western Sydney University Law School in April. The Dean of UNSW Law, Professor George Williams AO recognised Anna’s long association with the Centre, beginning as a student of the Centre in the 1990s, to joining as Director in 2004 and the enormous contribution of KLC under her leadership. KLC staff, our community legal sector and legal aid, colleagues, volunteer solicitors and colleagues have all farewelled Anna this month. We wish her well in her new role!

And to Naomi

In late March we also farewelled our most recent secondee solicitor from Herbert Smith Freehills, Naomi. She had this to say about her time at KLC:
“My secondment at KLC has been a wonderful and invigorating experience. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet and help clients on a daily basis, and loved the challenge of learning about entirely new areas of law. I learned a huge amount by working alongside the brilliant team at KLC, and have been consistently impressed by the empathetic and practical approach to clients shown by all of the staff here. I have come away from KLC with a renewed appreciation for the important role that community legal centres play in increasing access to justice and helping vulnerable members of our community. It is with a heavy heart that I leave KLC – but also with many fond memories.”
Copyright © Kingsford Legal Centre 2015
Address: Kingsford Legal Centre, F8-003, UNSW, 2052 
Telephone: (+61 2) 9385 9566
 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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