South Eastern Justice
In this issue:
  • SERLAN forum 
  • New staff at SMLS 
  • Volunteer position required! 
  • Client Story 
  • Theory of Change Day 
  • Student Changeover 
  • Legal Advice for Taxi Drivers
  • Staff Christmas Party
SERLAN Forum  

SMLS is a founding member of the South Eastern Regional Legal Assistance Network (SERLAN) which is a network of government and non-government legal service providers including:  

Casey Cardinia Legal Service
Peninsula Community Legal Centre
Springvale Monash Legal Service
St Kilda Legal Service
Victoria Legal Aid (Dandenong and Frankston)

SERLAN aims to provide collaborative, coordinated and client focused legal assistance in the South East Region of Victoria.
SERLAN was officially launched at a forum in Sandhurst on the 30th of November. The day was a huge success with over 50 service providers in attendance including social and community service providers in the south eastern corridor, as well representative from Victoria Police and government.

We were thrilled to invite Ro Allen, the Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality to come and deliver our key note address. She spoke about the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people, and the obstacles many face in employment and everyday life. Ro challenged the audience with hilarious anecdotes and confronting truths about the perspectives of our community and broader society.

We also heard from speakers such as Kate Bundrock from Victoria legal Aid, Jackie Galloway, Chief Executive Officer at Peninsula Community Legal Centre, Roy Reekie, Funding and Development Manager at Victoria Legal Aid, Gillian Wilks, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Peninsula Community Legal Centre, and our very own  Executive director Kristen Wallwork.

Some examples of collaborative, coordinated and client focused work were on display during the panel, including Jarryd Williams, General Manager of Youth Programs at STREAT, a social enterprise aimed at assisting and empowering disadvantaged and at risk young people. In addition we heard from Sophie Howes, Senior Advocate at Independant Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) regarding their support for people who are receiving compulsory psychiatric treatment. IMHA seek to hear and represent their clients rights to self-determination, self-management and empowerment. We also heard from our Community Development Worker Ashleigh Newnham on one of our partnerships with a youth detox facility. SMLS seeks to empower these young people to understand their rights and responsibilities, and improve access to legal supports in this region. The forum closed with a Professional Development workshop on fines and infringements. 

It was a fantastic day and we anticipate the network will continue to grow as a significant presence in the South East. 
SMLS Welcomes New Staff

SMLS is pleased to welcome new Community Development Worker Temur Rezaie to our team. Temur comes from a Social Work and International Development background and has enormous passion working in the community development sector, promoting social justice and human rights. He has worked in the Community Detention Program with Wesley Mission Victoria, and community capacity building projects with Brotherhood of St. Laurence. He has volunteered with several community organisations including CMY, Diaspora Action Australia and was a member of Youth Advisory Committee with Victorian Government. 

Volunteer Position Required!
SMLS is currently seeking a volunteer supervising lawyer to join our dynamic and engaging environment. The role will be actively involved in assisting some of the most vulnerable members of the community.
Supervisor Volunteers are responsible for all legal advice and information provided to clients who attend the Springvale Monash Legal Service’s weekly drop-in clinics on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 7pm. Supervisor Volunteers approve all advice and information that Casework Volunteers give before it is provided to clients by the Casework Volunteer.
Supervisor Volunteers give a range of legal advice, including criminal law, family law, motor vehicle accidents, neighbourhood disputes, social security problems as well as debt and consumer protection. The average expected commitment required from Supervisor Volunteers is 3 hours per fortnight. Supervisors must have a minimum of 2 years post admission experience. If you are interested, and for a copy of the position description, please contact Sabrina on (03) 9545 7400. 

Client Story

*Client name has been changed for privacy purposes. 

At SMLS, we recognise that the infringement system often disproportionately impacts disadvantaged and vulnerable people, and many of our clients present with infringement matters. Mrs Martin presented at our service with 23 fines she had incurred between 2009 and 2014. These fines were for various types of offences and had been issued by many different agencies. Although the fines were already on a payment plan, our client was not able to meet the regular payments.

In an initial interview at SMLS, our student discovered that Mrs Martin was facing financial disadvantage, and struggling to pay rent and bills from her small income. She has been battling severe depression and chronic alcohol dependence since the death of her husband in 2001, as well as another physical disability. She has experienced homelessness after the death of her husband which also had a significant impact of her life. The Infringement warrant had led to the Sheriff blocking the renewal and transfer of her car registration, impacting her ability to move freely, attend appointments, and see family.

Through our Monash Law Professional Practice program, our student assessed Mrs Martin as eligible to apply for revocation of all the fines on the basis of her mental health and alcohol addiction. Our student submitted an application to the Infringements Court for all 23 fines along with reports from our client’s GP and psychiatrist. 11 of the fines have since been revoked and our client is awaiting the Court’s decision on the remaining fines. She has also been refunded $414 for some of the revoked fines towards which our client had made part-payments.

Mrs Martin has been very grateful for the help SMLS has given her, and is delighted with the outcome. She told us that she would not have been able to purchase any Christmas presents, and plans to use the refunded money to buy gifts for her grandkids.

She states that she is feeling like a huge burden has been lifted off her shoulders.
Evaluation and Monitoring Capacity Building

Developing a Theory of Change at SMLS 

SMLS is taking part in a sector wide project designed to build the evaluation capacity of Victorian CLCs and create a shared outcomes measurement framework. Through this training, we will be able to better monitor and evaluate the impact of our work. 

We recently held a Theory of Change Development Day with representation from each of our work areas: Legal, Administration, Volunteers, Community Development as well as members of our board. 

We mapped out the foundations of a draft Theory of Change, creating a statement of purpose, and an outcomes chain to articulate our core purpose and our broader societal impact. This will will assist us to design more realistic goals, clarify accountabilities and establish a common understanding of the activities and strategies to be put in place to achieve our intended outcomes and impact. 

We are really excited to begin putting frameworks in place to help us articulate and measure the impact our work has on clients, the community and our ultimate goal: a fair and just society. 
Springvale Monash Legal Service Annual General Meeting
Finding Strength in the face of Adversity to Ensure Sustainability
Our 2016 AGM was a great event, filled with energy and passion for the work we are doing, and discussion of the challenges and opportunities facing the sector into the future. 

We were pleased to have guest speaker Rob Hulls address the meeting. Mr Hulls has worked as a solicitor, served as Victorian Attorney-General and Deputy Premier. He is currently the director of the Centre for Innovative Justice at RMIT University. The mission of the Centre is to research, develop, teach and promote innovative ways of delivering justice.

He reflected on his time in the CLC sector, and how essential our services are for the communities in which we work. He emphasised that youth offenders will continue to be at high risk of recidivism in their transition from justice system into the community until we move towards more restorative options for young offenders. Incarceration was discussed as an absolute last resort for these young offenders. He spoke about the need for services to move toward offering a holistic approach towards clients. 

You can read our annual report in detail here
Student Change over 

We have finished our third Clinical period for 2016 and student changeover has now finished. We were lucky to have a wonderful group of committed students who took part in Professional Practice subject at Monash University Faculty of Law. We would like to wish all our students the best of luck in their future endeavours!
Legal Assistance for Taxi Drivers 

We would like to remind everyone that SMLS has established a legal clinic for Taxi Drivers. 
The legal clinic is every Friday morning by appointment. We are also delivering Community Legal Education to Taxi drivers every week. Taxi Drivers are welcome to come and see us for free and confidential legal advice! 

Christmas Party

SMLS celebrated the festive season at St Kilda Bowls Club in December. Belinda, our Taxi Clinic lawyer surprised us all with her bowling skills, and a serious planking competition showed off the determination and strength of the staff. We all enjoyed lots of great food and conversation. 

From all of us here at SMLS, we wish you a wonderful festive season.. See you in 2017! 
Copyright © 2015, Springvale Monash Legal Service, All rights reserved.
South Eastern Justice, Issue 4, June, 2016.

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Springvale Monash Legal Service · 5 Osborne Avenue · Springvale, VIC 3171 · Australia

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