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New funding to help Queenslanders with child protection problems

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Legal Aid Queensland’s child protection services are now easier than ever to access, thanks to an additional $2.5 million in funding provided in the recent state budget.

The funding was provided in response to the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry's final report (2013), which recommended additional funding be provided to Legal Aid Queensland to ensure increased representation of vulnerable children, parents and other parties in child protection court and tribunal proceedings.

CEO Anthony Reilly said new guidelines for child protection grants of aid were introduced from July 1, 2017, making it easier for people to access legal representation in child protection matters.

“We would encourage anyone with a child protection problem to contact Legal Aid Queensland for assistance,” he said. “If you are a community organisation who helps people with child protection problems, encourage your clients to come and see us. The additional state government funding and our new guidelines mean we are now able to help many more people than we could in the past.”

For more information about child protection grants or to get help for child protection matters call 1300 65 11 88 or visit our website.

New board member Joshua Creamer

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Joshua Creamer

One of Australia’s leading native title barristers, Joshua Creamer, has been appointed to the Legal Aid Queensland Board.

Joshua, a descendant of the Waanyi and Kalkadoon nations from North West Queensland, has been a practising barrister since 2011 and is widely recognised as one Australia's leading lawyers for matters involving Indigenous peoples. He also has substantial experience in family law and a strong commitment to social justice issues.

Joshua was awarded Griffith University's prestigious Rubin Hurricane Carter Award for Commitment to Social Justice in 2008 and in 2013 received the Griffith University Outstanding Arts, Education and Law Young Alumnus of the Year award. In 2016, he was recognised by Chambers Asia Pacific as one of Australia's outstanding young lawyers.

Legal Aid Queensland is very fortunate to have Joshua on our board, and we look forward to working with him over the coming years to deliver improved access to justice for Queenslanders.

2016-17 annual report released  

Legal Aid Queensland's 2016-17 annual report was tabled in state parliament on 29 September and details the organisation's ongoing strong financial position and commitment to ensuring the long-term sustainability of core services.

The report shows that our overall financial position for 2016–17 is healthy and reflects the board and management’s commitment to sound financial management principles to ensure the long term sustainability of core services.

Some of the key outcomes for 2016-17 included:

  • providing 4653 people with community legal education
  • providing 232,107 people with information and referral services
  • providing 37,008 legal advice and legal task services to people
  • providing criminal law duty lawyer services to 86,642 people
  • providing family law duty lawyer services to 2505 people
  • providing domestic and family violence duty lawyer services to 15,453 people
  • providing child protection duty lawyer services to 450 people
  • providing Administrative Appeals Tribunal duty lawyer services to 249 people
  • helping 3251 people in dispute resolution conferences to help them resolve disputes without going to court and
  • approving 31,194 initial applications for grants of aid

Other major achievements included:

  • re-establishing a pilot service in Brisbane focused on providing legal advice and advocacy for vulnerable parents early in child protection intervention
  • establishing the Family Advocacy and Support Services in the family law courts in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns, which involves lawyers and social support workers helping clients impacted by family violence with their legal and non-legal needs
  • enhancing legal representation services in our Domestic and Family Violence Duty Lawyer Services at five locations; duty lawyers provide free legal information and advice, help people fill out forms, provide referrals to support services and sometimes appear in court on the client’s behalf for their domestic violence matter
  • establishing a Workplace Advice Clinic at the Fair Work Commission’s Brisbane office; the clinic operates twice a week and provides people with legal advice about unfair dismissal, general protections and bullying applications
  • establishing a network of more than 25 external legal service providers (private law firms that do legal aid work and community legal centres) to provide legal representation services to patients appearing before the Mental Health Review Tribunal under the Mental Health Act 2016.

You can read the entire annual report online.

Southport official opening 

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Southport office official opening—from R to L:
Paul Davey (A/CEO), The Hon Yvette D'Ath MP
(Attorney-General and Minister for Justice),
The Hon Margaret McMurdo AC (LAQ Board Chair),
Elder Uncle Allen Lena and Michael Moloney
(Senior principal lawyer).

Legal Aid Queensland's Southport office was officially opened by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Ms Y'vette D'Ath and our new board chair The Hon Ms Margaret McMurdo on Thursday 3 August 2017.

The newly expanded office at 7 Bay Street, Southport, will help meet the needs of Legal Aid Queensland's largest and busiest regional office now and into the future. Conveniently located close to the Southport Courthouse and other amenities the new accommodation provides two floors of modern and functional office space benefiting both staff and clients.

Legal Aid Queensland has 14 offices across Queensland, and Southport is the largest and busiest outside of Brisbane. The Gold Coast region has a high demand for domestic and family violence services with the Southport Magistrates Court being one of the busiest in relation to domestic violence orders.

Legal Aid Queensland has an important role in providing the community with access to legal information and advice, and representation in the family, civil and criminal law courts, and the Southport office has a key role in delivering legal assistance services to this region.

Farm and Rural Legal Service grows to meet needs of rural communities

Farmers and primary producers in Queensland’s north now have improved access to legal help thanks to the expansion of Legal Aid Queensland’s Farm and Rural Legal Service.

Lawyer Brent Robino has joined the Farm and Rural Legal Service team and is based in our Townsville office, thanks to additional funding provided by the Queensland Government.

The service provides free legal help to farmers and primary producers experiencing financial hardship related to their business, including those with severe debt problems or those in dispute with their lenders. Lawyers can help primary producers and rural businesses to negotiate with financiers and other creditors and can also attend farm debt mediations under the Queensland Farm Finance Strategy (QFFS), and as of 1 July 2017, under the Farm Business Debt Mediation Act 2017.

Mr Robino, who joined the team in August, provides specialist advice and information on credit and debit related issues and debt mediation legal services. He will be providing outreach services to rural locations in the region and will also offer general consumer law legal services to clients in north Queensland.

Mr Robino joins well known senior lawyer Denis McMahon, who is based in south-east Queensland but travels extensively to rural and regional locations to meet with clients. The service is also provided through three private legal firms based in Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton who have a contractual relationship with Legal Aid Queensland to assist clients in these areas.

For more information about the service, visit our website or call us on 1300 65 11 88.

People doing legal aid work

Legal Aid Queensland's first NDIS appeal

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Loretta Kreet

People making a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) appeal can now get legal representation from Legal Aid Queensland.

Established in 2013, the NDIS allows eligible participants to access government funding for reasonable and necessary supports to allow the person with a disability to participate and contribute to social and economic life to the best of their abilities.

Decisions about their eligibility for funding—and the extent of that funding— are made by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). If a person is unhappy with the decision, they can ask for an internal review by the agency, and if they remain dissatisfied, they can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for review.

LAQ provides legal services through an arrangement with the Department of Social Services if a case raises complex or novel legal issues. Applications for legal assistance are made directly to the Department of Social Services.

Senior lawyer Loretta Kreet said LAQ’s first appeals case involved a client who was not satisfied with the NDIS plan they entered into in 2016, as it didn't provide necessary and reasonable supports.

“The client asked the NDIA to review the supports in the plan but this wasn't agreed to and NDIA advised the client they wouldn't review the plan,” Ms Kreet said.

 “The client then appealed to the AAT but the NDIA argued that the AAT could only make a decision about the plan, not the supports outlined in the plan. The client wanted the AAT to make a decision about the supports, which lead to a jurisdictional hearing in March 2017.

“As a result of this hearing, the tribunal decided it did have jurisdiction to review the supports in the plan. Following the hearing the issues between the NDIA and the client have been settled by agreement.”

If you have a client needing help with an NDIS issue or 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

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Attend free webinars and visit Legal Aid Queensland at events

Free live webinars

Community, health and education workers across Queensland can learn about common legal issues affecting their clients and how to access our services thanks to our free webinar program.

Youth justice Q&A – for community, health and education workers

Date: Friday 6 October 2017
Time: 10 - 11am
Register online
Subscribe to our webinar mailing list
The webinar will be delivered by David Law, principal lawyer in our Youth Legal Aid team, and will cover:

  • an overview of the youth justice system in Queensland
  • how Legal Aid Queensland can help your clients
  • a live Q&A.

We encourage you to submit general questions for our presenter ahead of the webinar in the registration form. Please hold questions about the integration of 17-year-olds into the youth criminal system for our 2018 youth justice webinar.

Child protection: the law and how Legal Aid Queensland can help– for community, health and education workers

Date: Wednesday 8 November 2017
Time: 10 - 11.15am
Register online
Subscribe to our webinar mailing list
The webinar will be delivered delivered by Tamaryn Townshend, Skye Mackenzie and Sandra Mohr -Edgar in our Children and Young People team at Legal Aid Queensland and will cover:

  • an overview of the child protection system in Queensland
  • new LAQ guidelines to increase access to legal representation for child protection matters
  • a live Q&A.

We encourage you to submit general questions for our presenter ahead of the webinar in the registration form.

Upcoming events

Our Community Legal Education staff, lawyers and frontline staff visit a range of community events throughout the year to promote our services and raise awareness about people’s legal rights and responsibilities. Come and say hi to us at these upcoming events during anti-poverty week:

Pathways to Power expo we will provide financial, fair trading and legal information

Date: Tuesday 17 October 2017
Time: 9:30am – 2:30pm
Location: Benevolent Society Early Years Centre, Coomera Springs

Making Ends Meet: Dealing with Debt & Living on a Budget our staff will help the public with loans, credit and debt and consumer and legal rights

Date: Tuesday 17 October 2017
Time: 10:00am – 2:00pm
Location: the New Inala Hall, Inala Civic Centre, Wirraway Parade, Inala

You can find us at other events like the MOSAIC multicultural festival and the Brisbane and Caboolture Mental Health Expo’s.

What’s new: publications and resources

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

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

The following publications have been updated recently:

  • Consumer And Trade Disputes Guide
  • How Do I Get A Domestic Violence Protection Order Factsheet
  • How To Apply For A Domestic Violence Order Guide
  • Our Legal System... Information For Women Indigenous Brochure
  • What are my rights if I want to separate from my partner—Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander women Pocket Pack
  • Need legal help? Ask Legal Aid Queensland Factsheet

Supreme Court Library Queensland's virtual legal library

The Supreme Court Library Queensland's virtual legal library is available to Queensland Law Society members who are either sole practitioners or from small firms with 5 or less practicing certificates (micro-firms). This free library service provides access to over 135 key legal resources in civil, criminal and family law from leading publishers CCH, LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters. View the full list of available titles.

For more information about this fantastic service for small law firms and sole practitioners contact the Supreme Court Library Queensland.

Community Legal Education Collaboration Fund

Legal Aid Queensland’s Community Legal Education (CLE) Collaboration Fund provides funding for collaborative initiatives and partnerships to extend the reach of our CLE work, in line with our CLE Strategy.  In case you missed it - the 2017 fund recipients have been announced

We are also excited to promote some of the newly completed projects from 2016 including Suncoast Community Legal Centre’s elder law Piano Forte Resource Guide  and Tenants Queensland’s new Renting Right fact sheets.

For more information about the collaboration fund, visit our website.

Case study

Providing legal representation to clients in the Mental Health Review Tribunal

Our in-house Mental Health Review Tribunal team provided legal representation to a client appearing before the Mental Health Review Tribunal for a review of his forensic order.

The client had been placed on a forensic order by the Mental Health Court in 2006 after being found of unsound mind in respect of a number of offences.

The client had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and, before the order was made, had received limited consistent treatment for his illness.

Over the past 10 years, the client had made significant progress on his order. His mental health stabilised after introducing antipsychotic medication and regular therapeutic intervention.

At the time of the hearing, the client was living in the community with stable mental health. He ran his own business, engaged in prosocial recreational activities and volunteer work through his local church.

We advocated for the client at his hearing to represent his preference to have his forensic order revoked and replaced with a less restrictive treatment support order. The tribunal heard evidence from the client’s treating team and submissions from the Attorney-General’s representative. After considering the issues, the tribunal agreed with our submissions and replaced the client’s forensic order with a treatment support order.

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