Centre close down information

The Women’s Legal Centre is closed from 2 pm on Friday, 23 December 2016 and will re-open at 9 am on Tuesday, 3 January 2017. The Centre’s advice line will also be closed during this period.

If you require immediate assistance, please contact the following the services:

  • Emergency 000
  • ACT Police 131 444 (non-emergency)
  • Domestic Violence Crisis Service  02 6289 0900 (24 Hour Crisis Line)

The Centre reopens at 9 am on Tuesday, 3 January 2017. The Centre’s advice line will recommence from 9:30 on Tuesday 3 January as well.

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: Women’s Legal Centre welcomes ACT Greens’ commitment to tackling violence against women

The Women’s Legal Centre welcomes the ACT Greens’ commitment to provide additional funding to the Centre as part of their approach to tackling violence against women.

The Centre is currently facing a funding crisis as a result of the reduction of Commonwealth support for community legal centres. The ACT Greens have today announced a commitment to meet this gap in the Centre’s funding and ensure vulnerable women in Canberra have access to legal advice and representation.

Specialist legal advice is a crucial part of improving gender equality and addressing violence against women. The ACT Greens have recognised this by including Canberra’s only specialist women’s legal service in their platform on gender equality and violence against women. Specialist legal advice can support women’s workforce participation and economic security as well as protect personal safety and prevent ongoing violence.

The Centre’s Executive Director, Elena Rosenman said, “In the last year, the Women’s Legal Centre has assisted over one thousand women. We helped these women make safe care arrangement for their kids, reach a fair division of their property with their ex-partner, secure compensation after a violent crime or be paid properly and fairly for the work they do.”

“The women who come to us for advice and assistance have no other options.”

Despite this, from 1 July 2017, Commonwealth contribution to community legal centre funding nationally will fall by 30%. This could translate to the loss of a third of the Centre’s core funding and would lead to a reduction in the Centre’s services.

Ms Rosenman continued, “Without decisive action from the incoming ACT Government, next year 300 of the most vulnerable women in Canberra will have to go through legal processes with no legal support at all. This commitment from the ACT Greens is a great step towards ensuring those women have access to legal advice and representation.”

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

NEWS: WOMEN’S LEGAL CENTRE EMPLOYEE RECOGNISED AT 2016 NAIDOC AWARDS

2 July 2016

Teletha Elemes named Canberra & District Aboriginal Community Sector Worker of the Year

The Women’s Legal Centre’s Aboriginal Legal Liaison, Teletha Elemes was named the Canberra & District Aboriginal Community Sector Worker of the Year at the NAIDOC Ball.

The Canberra & District Aboriginal Community Sector Worker of the Year is supported by Bank Australia and the ACT Council of Social Services.

Teletha Elemes has worked with the Centre for the last four years. She has worked with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Program and has recently been appointed as the Aboriginal Legal Liaison in the Centre’s new Domestic Violence Program.

Ms Elemes was recognised for her responsive, empathetic and assured support to Aboriginal women in Canberra and the region.

Teletha is a sensitive and skilled advocate. She provides information, support and advocacy to individual women and has assisted a high number of Aboriginal women to engage with the justice system to support better outcomes for themselves, their families and their communities. Teletha will now be working in the Centre’s Domestic Violence Program to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to get the information and support they need from legal assistance services.

Since being at the Centre, Teletha has also developed a 10 week community education program, Knowing Your Rights. Knowing Your Rights was developed in consultation with Aboriginal women and service providers in Canberra and the surrounding region. It is designed to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and educate them about their legal rights and legal processes including family law, domestic violence, consumer rights and receiving government services. Teletha has presented the Program with young Aboriginal women and older women across Canberra and the region.

Teletha is a highly valued member of the team and the Centre congratulates her on such a  well-deserved award.

For more information, please contact Elena Rosenman, Executive Director on 02 6257 4377  or 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.

MEDIA RELEASE: Canberra Community Legal Centres respond to the Federal Budget

CRISIS LOOMS FOR COMMUNITY LEGAL ADVICE IN CANBERRA

3 May 2016

Federal budget fails to secure legal assistance services for vulnerable Canberrans

Tonight’s budget has failed to reverse dramatic funding cuts to community legal centres projected to commence in July 2017.

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.

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. Canberra’s four Community Legal Centres have expressed disappointment these cuts were not reversed in tonight’s budget.

Deb Pippen, the Executive Officer at Tenants’ Union ACT said, “The looming crisis in community legal centre funding in Canberra will be felt by those people who need our support the most.”

Carmel Franklin, the Director of the Care Consumer Law Centre said, “The four community legal centres in Canberra provide specialist, community-based legal advice and case work in the areas of domestic violence and family law, tenancy and social security, discrimination and employment and consumer affairs.”

Elena Rosenman, Executive Director at the Women’s Legal Centre explained, “Support from Canberra’s community legal centres has helped women leave violent relationships, keep their kids safe and extract their finances from their violent partners. It has prevented people from becoming homeless and from losing their jobs due to discrimination.”

Genevieve Bolton, Executive Director at Canberra Community Law said, “Community Legal Centres in Canberra are facing a funding crisis in the next 12 months. Without accessible, free and community-based legal advice, the safety, security and independence of thousands of Canberrans will be put in jeopardy.”

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
Camel Franklin, Director Care Financial Counselling and Consumer Law Centre, 0402 011 600

Women’s Legal Centre welcomes new Principal Solicitor

The Women’s Legal Centre has appointed Claudia Maclean as the new Principal Solicitor.

Claudia joins the Centre with almost 10 years experience in private practice, predominately in family law. She has a Masters in Applied (Family) Law from the Australian National University.

Claudia has been active in the legal community throughout her career, working with the Women Lawyer’s Association ACT, the ACT Law Society Alternate Dispute Resolution Committee and the ACT Young Lawyers Association. She has previously donated her time to supporting free legal advice for Canberrans through the ACT Law Society’s Legal Advice Bureau and as a previous volunteer with the Women’s Legal Centre.

Claudia’s experience in the private and community sectors has given her a strong interest in the gap in legal services available for women who do not qualify for legal aid, yet cannot afford private representation.

In her role as Principal Solicitor with the Centre, Claudia’s priorities will include supporting the establishment of the new DV Unit, which will provide legal advice and representation to women experiencing family violence; increasing the Centre’s outreach practice; and working with the Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Program to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are able to access legal assistance and support.

Claudia will make an excellent addition to the leadership team at the Centre at a crucial time of growth and change.

 

For more information, please contact Elena Rosenman, Executive Director on 02 6257 4377 or erosenman@womenslegalact.org.

New Federal funding to establish a specialist domestic violence unit

Friday 16 October 2015

New Federal funding  for the Women’s Legal Centre to establish a domestic violence unit

The Women’s Legal Centre today welcomed one of the biggest single injections into its funding in the Centre’s 20 year history. The Centre will receive $1.05 million over three years as part of the Australian Government’s recently announced $100 million package to respond to family and domestic violence.

Executive Director of the Centre, Elena Rosenman said the Centre would use this funding to establish a new specialist domestic violence unit within the Centre.

“This funding will significantly increase our ability to assist women experiencing domestic violence in the Canberra community.”

“While women in crisis need specific assistance to protect their immediate safety, to ensure that safety is sustainable and long term, women need intensive, sustained and expert legal advice and representation throughout their legal processes, particularly in the Family Court. They also need support to access other essential services. This funding will allow the Centre to provide that support to women in the Canberra community who are most at risk.”

“The Prime Minister has been clear that this a gender-based issue and I am pleased the Government has resourced a specialist women’s legal centre to address it here in Canberra. With less than three full time lawyers, last year the Women’s Legal Centre assisted 1200 women, we provided close to 3 000 pieces of advice and took on close to 200 cases. Two thirds of the women we assist have experienced domestic violence. Ninety-five percent of the Aboriginal women we assist have experienced violence. Assisting these women to keep themselves and their children safe is central to our work.”

“We are seeing an unprecedented level of interest and support from all levels of Government, both sides of politics and the broader community. We look forward to working with key domestic violence organisations and bodies in Canberra to make sure this unit is effective and responsive and part of an integrated response to domestic and family violence in our community.”