Partnerships with key community organisations have been crucial for ensuring more people struggling with issues in their life get free legal assistance, according to Hume Riverina Community Legal Service (HRCLS) principal lawyer Sarah Rodgers.
More than 30 people from community service providers attended the HRCLS ‘Report to the Community’ on Thursday, 9 November, to hear the impact HRCLS had in 2016-17. Ms Rodgers said she was proud of the role the service played in helping people access legal assistance.
“Our team’s commitment to link the community with the law has resulted in meeting our strategic aims and beating targets, with an increase in key areas of the service,” Ms Rodgers said.
Ms Rodgers said the strengthening of partnerships was having an impact, and allowed HRCLS lawyers to give more advice to people than in the previous year.
“Our partners such as Wodonga Flexible Learning Centre, NESAY, Gateway Health and Centre Against Violence are having a real impact through the collaborative programs we have established,” Ms Rodgers said. “People trust these services and our referrals are increasing as clients open up about their problems, which include legal issues. With our presence at each of these sites, we can quickly identify how to potentially fix these legal issues.”
Ms Rodgers said the legal service was investigating more projects to further extend its reach into the HRCLS catchment to ensure people needing legal advice on everyday problems. Outreach services are currently delivered from Benalla and Wangaratta to Henty and Holbrook, and west to Deniliquin, Finely and Corowa.
“We are in a unique environment on the Border and we regularly face cross border legal problems,” she said. “People dealing with legal problems often have interrelated Victorian and NSW legal problems and it can be extremely complex to get these issues resolved. These cross border issues problems continue to create confusion and frustration among the community and we will keep advocating for them to be addressed.”
NSW cross border commissioner James McTavish was guest speaker at the ‘Report to the Community’ and told the audience about the role of his office in addressing cross border issues.
Mr McTavish said local knowledge was vital for his work advocating to the NSW Government for resolutions to cross border problems, and he encouraged people to contact his office.
Mr McTavish said the NSW Government had addressed laws that would impact people living on the NSW-Victoria with legislation passed to allow the registration of interstate Intervention Violence Orders. Work is also being done in the child protection area to ensure border living is recognised.
Hume Riverina Community Legal Service 2016-17 highlights
The above statistics are not a full representation of the data for the 2016-17 year. HRCLS will publish more data when more is available.
The HRCLS Annual Report 2016-17 can be found online here.
NSW Cross Border Commissioner James McTavish
with the HRCLS team at the Report to the Community 2016-17