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Head Note August 2016

Legal Aid Queensland welcomes injection of state government funding

Duty lawyer giving advice

Legal Aid Queensland has welcomed a much needed injection of state government funding, which will increase access to justice for financially disadvantaged Queenslanders.

Legal Aid Queensland acting CEO Paul Davey said the Queensland Government’s commitment to provide additional funding of $32.4M over 4 years would boost Legal Aid Queensland’s funding to a level that is equal to the national average per capita, and ongoing funding of $13M a year from 2020–21 would sustain expected increases in demand.

“In 2016–17, Legal Aid Queensland funding will increase by $3.23M, which will be used to expand our domestic and family violence and child protection legal services,” Mr Davey said.

“This much needed new funding for Legal Aid Queensland will boost our frontline services, ensuring the most vulnerable members of society have access to the legal information, advice and representation they need to resolve their legal problems.”

The additional funding for this financial year will be used for:

  • continuing the Domestic and Family Violence Duty Lawyer Service in 14 locations across the state; the service operates in Southport, Beenleigh, Richlands, Brisbane, Caboolture, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Maroochydore, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Mackay, Mount Isa, Townsville and Cairns
  • expanding the Domestic and Family Violence Duty Lawyer Service model to include full representation of clients in 6 locations which are yet to be determined
  • representation for clients who have breached domestic violence orders
  • expanding child protection legal services.

“The increased funding will ensure Legal Aid Queensland is on a stable footing to continue delivering sustainable frontline legal services to financial disadvantaged Queenslanders.

“We thank the state government, and particularly the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath, for ensuring Legal Aid Queensland has certainty about its budget in the coming years, and that we continue to contribute to strengthening Queensland’s justice system.”

CLE Collaboration Fund grant recipients announced

Map of Queensland

Legal Aid Queensland is delighted to announce the 2016 Community Legal Education (CLE) Collaboration Fund grant recipients, which will deliver a range of projects and initiatives to help the community better understand their legal rights and responsibilities.

“Educating the community about their legal rights and responsibilities is an important part of Legal Aid Queensland’s role. Our fund provides grants to community legal centres, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service and regional legal assistance forums to deliver collaborative CLE projects across Queensland,” Legal Aid Queensland acting CEO Paul Davey said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) communities, people with disabilities, young people, older people and regional Queenslanders are among the community members who will benefit from the CLE initiatives supported through the fund.”

The recipients sharing in $76,290 in funding are:

Tenants Queensland: will partner with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service to update Tenants Queensland’s tenancy factsheets targeted at ATSI people, deliver three legal information workshops to ATSI community workers and promote both organisations’ services during NAIDOC Week.

Queensland Aged and Disability Advocacy: will develop a ‘My Rights’ app for people with disabilities and their support networks, providing information, useful links and details on relevant agencies that provide services to people with disabilities.

Youth Advocacy Centre: will collaborate with the Queensland African Communities Council and the Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma to provide legal support for young African people and their families. The project will involve final year lawyers and/or new law graduates from African communities delivering information sessions and developing resources about legal rights and responsibilities, the role of lawyers and the police, and Queensland’s youth justice system.

Suncoast Community Legal Service: will develop a resource kit to help educate older people about their legal rights and responsibilities, powers of attorney and elder abuse. This kit will be used in conjunction with their existing video on the same topic.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service: will partner with the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts to produce 5 short CLE videos for ATSI communities on young people and their rights, domestic and family violence, fines and the State Penalties Enforcement Registry, maintaining contact with your lawyers and welfare of children.

South West Queensland Regional Legal Assistance Forum: will partner with drug education/health services to deliver information sessions on ice and its implications to high school students.

Bundaberg Regional Legal Assistance Forum: will deliver information sessions on youth justice and substance misuse, and how to assist ATSI clients to access courts and better understand court processes.

The collaboration fund is an initiative of Legal Aid Queensland and is funded by the Queensland Government’s Department of Justice and Attorney-General.

Staff expertise recognised with prominent legal sector appointments

David Shepherd
David Shepherd

Congratulations to 4 former Legal Aid Queensland staff members who were recently appointed to prominent positions within the legal sector.

Former Family Law Services assistant director Nigel Miller was appointed as Queensland’s first Director of Child Protection Litigation, responsible for ensuring the safety of vulnerable children across the state. This independent position was recently established by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General to apply for child protection orders (instead of Child Safety).

Prior to his assistant director role, Nigel was the principal lawyer of our Children and Young People team, practising in child protection law.

Former Family Law Services assistant director Tracey de Simone was appointed to the new position of Official Solicitor, Office of the Child and Family Official Solicitor, leading a team of legal officers to provide legal advice and assist child safety officers prepare for court to keep children safe in emergency situations. This office forms part of the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.

Tracey has held a number of senior roles at Legal Aid Queensland in the areas of family law, policy and domestic and family violence.

Both Nigel and Tracey’s new positions support the recommendations of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry into reforming the child protection system.

Legal Aid Queensland’s former Deputy Public Defender Carl Heaton QC was recently appointed as one of two new Deputy Directors of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP). Carl was appointed as Deputy Public Defender at Legal Aid Queensland in 2007 having previously worked at the ODPP as a senior and principal crown prosecutor.

David Shepherd, Legal Aid Queensland’s other former Deputy Public Defender, was appointed as a magistrate in May and is now sitting in the Ipswich Magistrates Court. David was Deputy Public Defender at Legal Aid Queensland since 2008, having began his legal career at the then Public Defender’s office in 1978. He spent some time in private practice at the bar and held a number of positions within the Criminal Justice Commission.

These appointments acknowledge the high level knowledge and expertise of Legal Aid Queensland staff, and the high regard our staff are held in by the legal sector.

Upcoming webinars for community workers

Legal Aid Queensland employees Vikki Moore and Sonia Kumari
Legal Aid Queensland webinar presenters
Vikki Moore and Sonia Kumari

Community workers across Queensland can learn about common legal issues affecting their clients and how to access Legal Aid Queensland’s services thanks to our free webinar program.

Community workers are encouraged to register for the following upcoming webinars:

August

Family law overview: the law, our services and how to access legal help for your clients

Aug 19, 2016 at 10.30am AEST
Register for the webinar

The webinar will be delivered by Lyndi Hawkings-Guy, principal lawyer in Legal Aid Queensland’s Family Law team, and will cover:

  • family law overview: separation and divorce, arrangements for children, family dispute resolution and property settlement basics
  • how disputes and arrangements in this area are regulated
  • how to help clients access their legal rights through Legal Aid Queensland’s Family Law Services.

September

Child protection: the law, our services and how to access legal help for your clients

September 15, 2016 at 10am AEST
Register for the webinar

The webinar will be delivered by Tamaryn Townshend, lawyer in Legal Aid Queensland’s Children and Young People team, and will cover:

  • what is child protection law, basic concepts of the child protection jurisdiction
  • Childrens Court of Queensland procedure
  • recent changes to child protection legislation
  • how to help clients access their legal rights through Legal Aid Queensland. 

Case study: Helping vulnerable people access justice

Woman looking at camera

Samantha* is a 29-year-old mother with two children who suffered many incidents of severe physical violence at the hands of her now ex-partner. Samantha escaped the violent relationship with her children and moved into a crisis refuge.

When Samantha, in the company of police, returned to her ex-partner’s house to retrieve essential items, her ex-partner seized their youngest child. Samantha feared for her child’s safety given her ex-partner was known to associate with criminals and drug users.

Samantha contacted DVConnect for help who referred her to Legal Aid Queensland’s Application Assistance Program, based at the Brisbane Magistrates Court. The program’s domestic violence prevention workers help women experiencing domestic and family violence:

  • to prepare an application for a domestic violence protection order or changes (variations) to an existing order
  • to lodge domestic violence protection order applications at the Brisbane Magistrates Court
  • by providing them with support in court
  • with risk assessment and safety planning
  • by referring them to relevant legal and community support services for their situation.

The Application Assistance Program’s domestic violence prevention workers helped Samantha with her legal aid application, an application for a domestic violence protection order and with safety planning, and were successful in gaining an urgent ex parte order for Samantha.

She was then referred to Legal Aid Queensland’s specialist Violence Prevention and Women’s Advocacy team where a lawyer helped Samantha to make an urgent recovery order application to the Federal Circuit Court. The recovery order was successfully made and the child was eventually located and returned to Samantha who was then moved to a different women’s refuge.

*Client’s name changed for confidentiality reasons.

Publications and resources

Have you been charged with an offence guide
Have you been charged with an offence? guide

The following publications and resources have been updated since the last edition of Head Note:

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