Russell Kennedy (RK) has a long-standing commitment to providing access to justice to people who have a special vulnerability and assisting in public interest matters. They have been a signatory to the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target since 2011. The firm had 99 lawyers in its Melbourne and Canberra offices as at 30 June 2015.
A key focus of RK’s pro bono work is in providing services that strengthen the capability of lawyers and community sector workers to support women and children affected by family violence.
Most recently, several RK lawyers have been working with Rosie Batty to set up the Luke Batty Foundation in honour of her late son, Luke. Rosie campaigns tirelessly to increase awareness of domestic violence and support for its victims, and was named Australian of the Year for 2015. RK has been working with the Foundation to establish its legal, taxation and governance structures. The Russell Kennedy Women’s Network is also currently supporting the Foundation by assisting with preparations for its first fundraiser to be held on 17 November 2015. The Hon. Fiona Richardson, Minister for Family Violence and Minister for Women, is the guest speaker for the fundraiser.
RK has also provided pro bono legal advice to the Domestic Violence Resource Centre and every year has a fundraiser for McAuley Community Services for Women.
RK has a long-standing, successful partnership with Peninsula Community Legal Centre (PCLC), providing services that strengthen PCLC’s capability to deliver legal services to their clients. The firm supports PCLC by accepting referrals, mentoring and training PCLC lawyers, sponsoring awards, funding disbursement costs and providing marketing assistance and business support services.
PCLC assisted 5500 clients last year and PCLC’s CEO, Jackie Galloway, reports that 1 in 4 of PCLC’s clients present with some form of family violence indicator. To support its family violence work, PCLC recently received funding for a two year pilot of the Integrated Law and Social Work Project. This allows PCLC lawyers to refer clients to a social worker or obtain secondary consultations on non-legal matters, and allows PCLC to provide an integrated and collaborative service when dealing with clients who present with family violence indicators.
Our pro bono partnership with Russell Kennedy has flourished over the past five years, dramatically exceeding our hopes and expectations. The whole RK team has been behind us – partners, associates, lawyers, administrative workers, human resources and business development. Their support has strengthened our capacity to provide free legal services to disadvantaged people in our community.
Jackie Gallloway, CEO, Peninsula Community Legal Centre
Complementing RK’s pro bono legal services, many RK lawyers serve on the boards of a number of organisations that run family assistance and counselling services, and provide emergency and respite accommodation. These organisations include Anglicare Victoria, Wesley Mission Victoria, Connections UnitingCare, Mercy Health & Aged Care, LifeWorks Relationship Counselling and Education Services, and the Mental Health Community Legal Centre.
RK’s other pro bono clients include: Foundation House, Sacred Heart Mission, Berry Street, Bush Heritage, Legacy Melbourne, Cancer Council, Hanover Welfare Services, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the Refugee Minor Program of the Department of Health and Human Services, Women with Disabilities and Vision Australia. Our lawyers also chair the Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minor Consortium and participate in the Fair Work Commission Duty Lawyer Scheme and the Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Legal Referral Service.