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The Lawyering for Change report

The fellowship report is now available online, here: Lawyering for Change (2015)

All feedback, or suggestions for further work, or collaboration, are welcome by email to


Lawyering for Change report launch: Wednesday 11 November 2015

You are warmly invited to the launch of the Lawyering for Change report.

The launch will be held at K&L Gates at 5.45pm for a 6.00pm start on Wed11 November 2015.

RSVP online here.

K&L Gates is at Level 25, 525 Collins St (Rialto Tower South), Melbourne CBD. Best entry is by way of the escalator on Flinders Lane (between William and King Sts), near Vue de Monde.

The report is a reflection on how community legal centre (CLC) lawyers can best use their legal cases to achieve both justice for their clients and social change for their communities. Drawing on interviews with 100 lawyers and thinkers across Australia, as well as the UK, USA, Canada, and South Africa, the report suggests seven best practice principles of strategic lawyering for CLCs.

Agata Wierzbowski, CLC Fellow, will briefly present the findings of the report, and screen a series of insights from interviewees including Doug Lasdon (Executive Director, Urban Justice Center, New York), Jennifer Robinson (Lawyer & Director of Legal Advocacy, Bertha Foundation, London), and Jo Shulman (CEO, Redfern Legal Centre, Sydney).

This will be followed by a brief panel discussion of how the principles can be practically implemented within the sector. Panel speakers include Felicity Graham (NSW Bar), Brendan Sydes (CEO, Environmental Justice Australia), and Joel Townsend (Social Inclusion Program Manager, Victoria Legal Aid).

Nibbles from Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Catering and drinks will be provided.

The project would not have been possible without the generous funding of the Victoria Law Foundation.

Migrants at Work: Unravelling the Web of Employment Law for New Arrivals

The law does not operate effectively if it is not properly understood. Yet few people have the skills to understand the legal protections that apply to them. This is particularly significant in the area of work, that part of life from which many derive a sense of financial security, self-esteem, social cohesion and identity. It is amplified where the law is drafted in a language that is not one’s own.

Secure income and employment conditions are key social determinants of health. For new Australians, these are also key contributors to a successful settlement in a new place. Yet members of newly arrived communities often experience poor employment conditions, while knowing little about their rights at work.

Western Community Legal Centre (previously Footscray CLC) is working to bridge this gap through its Employment Law Project. It has trained six bilingual community trainers on employment rights to in turn educate their communities about their rights.

Read more about this project in ‘Migrants at Work: Unravelling the Web of Employment Law for New Arrivals‘.

No work, no worth?

When we talk about loss, and grief, we only ever rarely talk about loss of identity. This is curious, given it is such a pervasive form of loss in our affluent society, with many possible triggers:the loss of work (injury, redundancy, or retirement), home (emigration), a relationship (family violence), or health (disability, mental illness). I am uncertain that we have adequate language to talk it through, or understand its complexity.However, this article is a good starting point for discussion. It also names some of the more pervading, and unhelpful, public attitudes to our clients. For those interested in reading more in this area, you may like Marc Auge’s ‘No Fixed Abode‘, a brief and thoughtful fictional ethnography of homelessness.

The Power To Persuade

People who are unemployed can be made to feel worthless, stigmatised, unwanted and lonely. Tracey Robbins discusses how we can seek to understand the loss of identity and loneliness people can feel as a result of being unemployed, and reset the way we work together as a community to help people find a way out of loneliness and possibly, find work too.

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A tale of CLC innovation: “The Future of Access to Justice… Starts in Werribee?”

The future has always been about outer space. Now, well, it just may lie in outer Melbourne. Werribee, in the City of Wyndham, to be precise. Through an innovative project spearheaded by Shorna Moore of the Wyndham Legal Service, the Werribee Magistrates’ Court and surrounds may become the site for the first integrated justice precinct in Victoria.

To read more about this project, see this article I wrote for Right Now magazine.

Systems of measurement have a productive power in our lives

Systems of measurement have a productive power in our lives. Here David Beer writes that “it is crucial that we see metrics as being central to the power dynamics of the age in which we live“. The discussion around metrics is fascinating, and I am interested in the measurement of impact and influence in particular.

However, I am at the same time wary that an over-reliance on metrics risks oversimplifying a complex world, and so dulling our ability to grapple with it. It is interesting to contrast Beer’s article with the views of Greek Finance Minister, Yannis Varoufakis, for example, who talks passionately here about how “one of the great evils of our time, is this penchant to quantify unquantifiable variables.” And to consider carefully what metrics we choose to prioritise, and why. See for example this article about David Cameron measuring the “wrong type of happiness“. And finally, to think about how through metrics we might focus on past and future, without looking at what’s going on right now. See the end of this wonderful article about characterising change, and history, for example, in which Ian Mortimer writes about how at the turn of the twentieth century, developments in technology allowed us to better predict the future. And so, how it was at this point that “the future” started to take on a dominant role in public discourse.

There are certainly diverse and evolving attitudes towards the use of metrics, in their various guises, in society. It is interesting to consider to what extent we might want them to guide decision-making, in which areas of life, and why. I am still undecided.

#Collaboration (and what was said at the IRSPM Conference 2015)

“Real collaboration…requires really going for it.” This post questions what it means to research collaboration, and to collaborate.

The Power To Persuade

Defining collaborative working and partnerships is a challenge, and was a central topic for discussion at the recent International PaulaResearch Society for Public Management (IRSPM)Conference held in Birmingham on 30 March 2014. In this post, Paula Karlsson from  Glasgow Caledonian University shares her reflections on understanding collaboration and what it means in practice. While it is a challenge, it is one that many across sectors are grappling with. 

Paula Karlsson a Finnish PhD student, living and studying in Scotland. She has a BA (Hons) degree and a MSc degree in Risk Management. Paula is currently doing her PhD at Glasgow Caledonian University titled: Co-governance of risk in new partnership models for public service provision: Comparative study between Scotland, Finland and Sweden.

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