MEDIA RELEASE: COMMONWEALTH ATTORNEY-GENERAL VISITS CANBERRA WOMEN’S LEGAL CENTRE

25 November 2016

Canberra Women’s Legal Centre Launches New Specialist Domestic Violence Program

The Women’s Legal Centre ACT today launched its new specialist Domestic Violence Program.

The program was launched by the Commonwealth Attorney-General, the Hon, George Brandis QC. The Centre was also joined by the Deputy Chief Minister of the ACT and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Yvette Berry to mark the occasion.

The specialist program provides intensive and ongoing legal advice and representation to women experiencing violence. The program is focussed on providing support to women post-crisis. The Centre’s specialist staff provide legal advice and representation to women primarily in relation to family law matters, including support to reach equitable property settlements and safe arrangements for children.

The Centre’s Executive Director, Elena Rosenman said, “In the last three months, the program has already provided assistance to 65 women in Canberra.” She continued, “We look forward to working alongside the many expert services in Canberra to provide our clients with effective, professional and supportive legal advice and representation and the associated support they need to ensure long-term and sustainable safety and financial independence following separation.”

The program was funded as a pilot service under the Commonwealth Government’s Women’s Safety Package. The Centre welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s recent announcement that this funding will be extended to 30 June 2019.

The launch was also addressed by Jo Wood, the newly appointed ACT Coordinator-General for Family Safety and Sarah Avery, the President of the Law Society of the ACT.

The launch was attended by many representatives of community services, legal assistance services, advocates, ACT and Commonwealth government representatives and practitioners from the legal profession in Canberra. The Centre was also pleased to be joined by a number of newly elected Members of the Legislative Assembly.

For assistance please phone the Centre on 02 6257 4377.

Media contact:
Elena Rosenman, Executive Director, 0408 133 115, erosenman@womenslegalact.org

MEDIA RELEASE: Canberra lawyers rally for community legal centre funding – Wednesday 18 May 2016

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Lawyers call for legal help for the most vulnerable

Canberra lawyers will rally on Wednesday 17 May to call on the Federal Government to reverse dramatic funding cuts to community legal centres and ensure they can meet the needs of Canberrans who need legal help.

The rally will start at 8am on Wednesday 17 May at the Community Legal Centre Hub at 21 Barry Dr, Turner and is scheduled to end at 8:45am at the ACT Supreme Court.

Community Legal Centres are funded by the Federal and ACT Governments, but Commonwealth contribution to funding to community legal centres in Canberra is due to plummet by almost 30% in July 2017. The looming crisis in community legal centre funding in Canberra will be felt by those people who need the support the most.

In Canberra, the Women’s Legal Centre, the Care Consumer Law Centre, Canberra Community Law and the Tenants’ Union provide crucial support to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. They provide legal assistance to people who would otherwise go without. Together, these services provided over 6000 pieces of advice and took on over 500 cases over the last 12 months.

Julie Dobinson, Chair of the Women’s Legal Centre Board and Partner at one of Canberra’s preeminent family law firms said, “Lawyers understand it is not enough to build a legal system, you have to support people to be able to use that system. If a woman is leaving a violent relationship and doesn’t have access to any legal advice, she is more likely to make an agreement with her ex partner that does not protect her safety, her kids’ safety or her financial security. If her matter does go to court she is open to being cross-examined by her violent ex-partner. Legal assistance is a crucial part of responding to domestic violence.”

Daniel Stewart, Chair of the Canberra Community Law Board and Senior Lecturer at the ANU Law School said, “It just makes good economic sense to fund community Legal Centres properly. We want to prevent Canberrans from falling into crisis. Early, specialist legal advice for those who would otherwise go without can prevent the escalation of legal problems. This reduces costs to the justice system and other areas of government spending, including health, housing, social security and emergency assistance.”

Julie Dobinson said, “Many Canberra lawyers donate significant amounts of time and expertise to community legal centres pro bono. This rally is an opportunity for us to show the Canberra community our support for access to justice for all people.”

Media contacts:
Elena Rosenman, Executive Director, Women’s Legal Centre, 0408 133 115
Genevieve Bolton, Executive Director, Canberra Community Law, 0417 192 780
Deb Pippen, Executive Officer, Tenants’ Union ACT, 02 6247 1026
Carmel Franklin, Director Care Financial Counselling and Consumer Law Centre, 0402 011 600

LAW WEEK EVENT: Lessons for the Legal Profession: Challenging sexual harassment in the workplace

Almost half of women working in media have report experiencing intimidation, abuse or sexual harassment in the course of their work.

Within the legal profession, 25 percent of women will face sexual harassment,  40 percent will experience discrimination. Retention rates for women lawyers are alarmingly low.

Despite the high incidence of sexual harassment in many professions, the number of formal complaints remain largely static.

The Women’s Legal Centre will be hosting a panel on Thursday 19 May 2016, as part of Law Week 2016.

Time: 12:00 PM -1:30 PM
Venue: Meyer Vandenberg, Level 2, 121 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra City
Cost: $10 per person (Inc. GST)
RSVP: ACT Law Society

Chaired by former Fair Work Commissioner, Barbara Deegan, this panel will  reflect on current issues and what affects women’s decisions to complain when working in small, professional communities such as law and media. Emma Macdonald, senior reporter for The Canberra Times and representative of Women in Media will discuss recent research and reform in the media profession. She will be joined by Kavina Mistry, President of the Young Lawyers Association and Belinda Barnard, Human Rights and Discrimination Law Policy Adviser at the ACT Human Rights Commission to discuss motivators for organisational change in the absence of complaint, with a view to supporting improved responses to sexual harassment and discrimination within the legal profession.