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Head Note February 2017

News

Celebrating 100 years of public defence in Queensland

John Allen, Margaret McMurdo, Michael Shanahan and Paul Davey
From R-L: Public Defender John Allen QC, The Honourable Justice Margaret McMurdo AC, His Honour Judge Michael Shanahan, and Acting Legal Aid Queensland CEO Paul Davey.

Legal Aid Queensland staff were joined by members of Queensland’s judiciary, magistracy and legal profession and former Public Defender’s Office staff as we celebrated 100 years of public defence in Queensland—an important milestone in Queensland’s legal history.

The special event was held in the Banco Court in Brisbane in November last year and featured a keynote speech from the President of the Childrens Court of Queensland, His Honour Judge Michael Shanahan, himself a former Public Defender. President of the Court of Appeal, the Honourable Justice Margaret McMurdo AC also shared reflections of her own career within the former Public Defender’s Office.

2017 fee increases for legal aid work

From 1 February 2017, Legal Aid Queensland has increased fees paid to solicitors and counsel who do select legal aid work.

As part of our commitment to partnering with private legal practitioners to deliver legal aid services to the Queensland community, we will increase a range of criminal law appeal fees for District Court, Court of Appeal and High Court matters, as well as fees for a range of criminal law and state civil law matters.

Please speak to your Legal Aid Queensland grants officer if you have any questions about the fee increases.

Social work students increase awareness of our services

Legal Aid Queensland recently partnered with the Department of Human Services (DHS) to host two social work student placements within our Civil Justice Services team.

In addition to job shadowing our lawyers and learning about common legal problems faced by our clients, the social work students delivered a webinar to DHS social workers to increase their awareness of economic abuse in domestic and family violence situations as a legal issue, how Legal Aid Queensland can help people experiencing economic abuse, and how to refer clients to us for legal help.

People doing legal aid work

Protecting consumers’ legal rights

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Senior consumer protection lawyer Paul Holmes

Unfair contracts, credit and debt problems, bankruptcy, small amount loans and insurance are just some of the many legal issues Legal Aid Queensland senior lawyer Paul Holmes helps clients with every day.

Paul is one of the lawyers in our Civil Justice Services team that provides legal help to vulnerable people with consumer protection, financial hardship, social security appeals, human rights, discrimination and employment law issues. The team also helps primary producers experiencing financial hardship to mediate with their financial institutions.

As a consumer advocate, Paul’s focus is providing legal advice, task assistance and representation for clients, helping them to understand their legal rights and achieve the best possible outcome for their individual situations. In some cases this can mean resolving a bill dispute with a utility provider, ending an unfair lease agreement or helping someone to understand their legal rights about outstanding debts―in other instances it can mean keeping a family in their home by delaying or preventing a bank from foreclosing on a mortgage due to unfair lending practices.

Community legal education (CLE) is a key interest for Paul―he regularly delivers CLE sessions and webinars to community workers, financial counsellors and target client groups in the community. As a result, Paul has developed strong professional networks and is highly sought after for his expertise and consumer protection knowledge. He is currently a member of the Credit and Investment Ombudsman’s Consumer Liaison Committee and the Financial Literacy Action Group in Logan.

If you have a client who needs help with a civil law problem, please phone us on 1300 65 11 88 to see if we can help them progress or resolve their legal issue.

Community legal education and resources

Webinars for community workers

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.

Police powers and your rights - information for community workers

Friday 10 March, 2017 at 10am AEST

Register for the webinar

The webinar will be delivered by Legal Aid Queensland criminal lawyer Nicholas Hanly and will cover:

  • rights and responsibilities when talking with the police
  • what happens when someone is arrested and taken into police custody and what the police can and can’t do
  • general information on warrants and what to do if a warrant has been issued for arrest
  • relevant case studies
  • getting legal help from Legal Aid Queensland.

Please phone 07 3238 3431 or email community.legaled@legalaid.qld.gov.au for more information.

What’s new: Legal Aid Queensland publications and resources

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All our publications and education resources are free and can be ordered online.

The following webinar videos are now available on our YouTube channel:

The following publications have been updated recently:

2017 Legal Topics for Older People Diary

2017 Legal Topics for Older People Diary
2017 Legal Topics for Older People Diary

Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia’s 2017 Legal Topics for Older People Diary includes important information about common legal issues facing older people such as future planning, aged care, National Disability Insurance Scheme, funerals and wills, elder abuse, family homes and finance, and consumer issues.

Civil litigation videos for self-represented litigants

The Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House has developed five civil litigation videos to better prepare self-represented people going through the Queensland court system. The videos step through starting a court case, defending a court case, disclosure and proving your case, attending court hearings and the trial.

Case study

Helping to reunite a father with his children

Angus* is a 35-year-old father of two young children with his ex-partner. He lives in far north Queensland, however his ex-partner lives in a different state with their children. Unfortunately, Angus hasn’t seen his children for some time as his ex-partner has not been complying with a court order granting Angus access to spend time with his children.

Angus had tried to seek legal help but not having access to a phone, computer or car, not being able to afford public transport and having limited reading and writing skills had made this very difficult. He had previously tried to submit an application to the court to try and enforce the court order, but this was rejected as it had not been completed properly.

Angus then approached Legal Aid Queensland for help. Our family lawyers gave Angus advice about his legal options regarding how to enforce the court order. They also helped him to prepare an application to the court, explaining how to complete the court documents properly and what matters he should address in his affidavit material.

A short time later, Angus contacted us to say the court had accepted his application and court documents for filing. He said he felt very happy he could now progress his relationship with his children after previously feeling powerless to resolve the issue.

*Name changed for privacy reasons

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