20 years of linking the community with the law through free legal assistance
Increased complexity and multiple problems are becoming the norm for people experiencing legal issues, according to the only community legal service on the Border. Hume Riverina Community Legal Service Manager & Principal Lawyer Sarah Rodgers told the audience at the annual Report to the Community on 7 November.
“We continue to strive to direct our resources to the most vulnerable people and not just give a single advice for those people but walk alongside them through the casework process,” Ms Rodgers said. “More than half our work is directed to supporting people who are affected by family violence including through duty lawyer services, advice and casework assistance with not only intervention orders but also the flow-on legal issues such as family law, debts, fines, consumer law and victims of crime.”
Victorian Cross Border Commissioner Luke Wilson was special guest speaker and spoke about causes behind some of the issues that people experience on a regular basis. These include a need for cross-border impacts to be factored into Government and local-level planning, and funding guidelines recognising the unique circumstances in border regions.
Mr Wilson highlighted issues with P and L plate drivers, TAFE/ VET access, RSA certification and Trade licensing as being brought to his office’s attention. Mr Wilson encouraged people to consider solutions to the problems they faced in working and living on the Border, and to connect with his office and local MPs to discuss how they could be addressed.
HRCLS also celebrated its 20th Birthday with a panel including former principal lawyers Karen Bowley and Karen Keegan, as well as current Albury & District Law Society president Allison Bruce, who started with the service in 1999 as a paralegal assistant.
Launched on 28 July 1999 by the Federal Attorney General Daryl Williams, HRCLS was known as the Albury Wodonga Community Legal Service before a name change via a community competition in 2009.
Ms Rodgers said the service had grown from four staff to 16, helped in more than 4800 cases and had been fortunate to have significant assistance from private lawyers who volunteered their time to help people needing legal advice.
“In 20 years, we have given more than 29,000 advice sessions and of those, over 5600 advice sessions were provided by our volunteers,” she said.
2018-19 HRCLS highlights