Congratulations to the Pro Bono team for their outstanding efforts and dedication to pro bono in FY22. Through our dedicated Pro Bono practice, we strive to strengthen the communities in which we operate by providing free legal assistance to disadvantaged individuals, as well as eligible not-for-profit and charitable organisations and social enterprises, allowing them to extend their capacity to make a difference.
Through our Pro Bono Practice, we aim to:
- provide access to justice for vulnerable people
- contribute to a business culture our people are proud of, and
- cultivate shared value and collaboration with our clients.
Our award submission focused on the work our Pro Bono Practice does to strengthen our relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including through our long-running partnership with Three Rivers Regional Assembly (TRRA), as well as our First Nations Wills Workshop program.
TRRA is an Aboriginal-led organisation and member of the NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Regional Alliances (NCARA). NCARA comprises nominated representatives from each of the NSW Aboriginal Regional Alliances and is designed to provide its member organisations with an increased say in government service delivery.
Over the five years we have partnered with TRRA, we have been building a relationship with the community and an understanding of the legal support TRRA needs in order to grow its capacity to make a difference in its community.
Delivering culturally appropriate advice is at the heart of what we do for TRRA, ensuring community and stakeholder engagement along the way. This ground-up community engagement is essential to ensure an inclusive and holistic approach to self-determination. Our strategy for advising TRRA has been highly flexible, and a team of our staff has travelled to Dubbo to work on country to provide community legal education and Wills Workshops. We have provided direct assistance to TRRA with advice on corporate structuring, government decision making processes and how to interpret government policies that directly affect its community.
We understand the importance of a long-term commitment and partnership on the path to reconciliation. Since 2018 we have developed a true partnership with TRRA. We adopted a two-way capacity building approach, where we assist TRRA with all its legal needs, and they in turn impart cultural knowledge and education to our staff. This has extended to TRRA providing guidance to the firm’s Reconciliation Action Plan working group.
Some examples of pro bono work our staff have worked on over the last financial year include:
- running four Wills Workshops in collaboration with local community legal centres and First Nations-run organisations in Dubbo, Kalgoorlie, Toronto, and Perth
- providing more than 500 hours of advice and representation for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) women through our partnership with the Women’s Legal Centre ACT for the CALD Women’s Divorce Clinic
- continuing to provide monthly updates to The Benevolent Society on new and amended legislation and case law in a wide range of areas of law relevant to its charitable operations;
- assisting clients who are the subject of community treatment orders with legal advice and advocacy at their Mental Health Tribunal Hearings, through our ongoing relationship with the Mental Health Legal Centre in Victoria
- establishing a new Will referral service with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health in Queensland
- pro bono secondments at the Australian Centre for Disability Law, Marrickville Legal Centre, Justice Connect, LGBTI Legal Service, ACT Law Society, Youth Law Australia, Mental Health Legal Centre, Law Access WA, and JobWatch, and
- our staff volunteer their time, during and outside of work hours, at community legal centre advice clinics and self-representation services across the country, including JusticeNet South Australia’s Fair Work Commission Workplace Advice Service.
Congratulations to the team for being recognised as a finalist, and to all the finalists.