In a remarkable and inspiring evening, the NSW Justice Awards identified yet again some highly innovative pro bono partnerships and community heroes in the justice sector. This year’s nominees for the Pro Bono Partnership Award, sponsored by the Centre, illustrated the importance of lateral thinking and innovation to achieve social justice outcomes through partnerships.
The Pro Bono Partnership Award is presented annually at the NSW Justice Awards to private law firms, community organisations and/or community legal centres in NSW which have developed an outstanding pro bono partnership.
The criteria for judging this award includes the innovative nature of the partnership, its success in delivering services to those in need, and the duration of the partnership. This year’s nominees were as follows:
The regional partnership between the Hunter Community Legal Centre and McCullough Robertson in Newcastle
This growing partnership between Hunter Community Legal Centre and McCullough Robertson was established three years ago in response to the high unmet demand for employment law advice in the Hunter region, particularly for people with low incomes, or with a disability. If it were not for this partnership, such advice would not be available in the region. Every week, two specialist employment lawyers attend the Hunter Community Legal Centre to provide advice on matters including unfair dismissal, discrimination and unpaid entitlements. They are also involved in the delivery of community legal education, and have on occasion taken on urgent matters at short notice given that demand is still outstripping supply.
The partnership between Marrickville Legal Centre and Corrs Chambers Westgarth
The pro bono secondee program between Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Marrickville Legal Centre’s Youth Legal Service is a seven year partnership that has substantially expanded the capacity of this important youth legal service. The long-term, sustained and dedicated support provided by Corrs now sees the service helping more than 500 children and young people aged up to 24 each year, across a range of issues such as fines, family law and victim support.
The partnership between Redfern Legal Centre, Marrickville Legal Centre and Clayton Utz
This partnership, established in 2011 highlights an innovative ‘collaborative service delivery’ model where, under the training, supervision and guidance of CLC lawyers, Clayton Utz lawyers provide advice and representation to individuals on low incomes in Fair Work Commission conciliations. A key part of the collaboration is that the partners each have clearly defined roles in the project: the CLC lawyers are the lawyers on the record for all matters and the Clayton Utz lawyers represent the clients at the conciliation. The project was initially developed as a partnership between Redfern Legal Centre and Clayton Utz. The success of the program has now seen it extended to include Marrickville Legal Centre earlier this year. The model has also been reproduced in Brisbane (at Caxton Legal Centre) and in Darwin (Darwin Community Legal Centre) in the past year.
The partnership between the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS), the Asylum Seekers Centre and Gilbert + Tobin
The collaboration between RACS, the Asylum Seekers Centre and Gilbert + Tobin to provide a weekly legal clinic for asylum seekers is a unique partnership that recognises the inter-connected nature of legal, social, health and financial problems. Established in May 2014, Gilbert + Tobin lawyers, overseen by RACS lawyers, provide ongoing legal advice and assistance at the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown each week. Here, asylum seekers (many who have experienced torture and trauma) are also able see an onsite doctor, their caseworker, or perhaps attend an English language class.
The partnership between Salvos Legal and Salvos Legal Humanitarian
This innovative partnership commenced in November 2010. The fees generated by Salvos Legal are used to fund the operations of Salvos Legal Humanitarian (SLH). This arrangement has allowed SLH to be self-sustaining for three years. Currently SLH has 38 employed staff and many volunteers. Again it provides an example of the benefits of joined up services. Clients are able to access Salvation Army social and pastoral services. Last year SLH provided over 32,000 hours of pro bono legal services at eight locations across Sydney and via telephone to people in rural and remote communities.