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South Eastern Justice

Issue 2, December, 2015
In this issue
Welcome to our inaugural Patron the Honourable Justice Shane Marshall

 SMLS AGM 2015

Joint initiative to improve access to justice for Monash Health patients

Appointment of additional duty lawyer to fill gap in service delivery

Hot Topic - The RTO rort 

SMLS end of year Battle of the Bowls
We are very happy to announce the appointment of our inaugural Patron, The Honourable Justice Shane Marshall
We are very proud to have the Hon. Justice Shane Marshall serve as our inaugural Patron. His passionate dedication to the upholding of Human Rights and his fearless commitment to advocating for mental health awareness within the legal profession will help to shapour identity within the sector.
His extensive experience in the legal profession, as well as his long-standing connection with Monash University will help to inform and support our service as we navigate the year ahead.  

Justice Marshall has served in the Federal Court of Australia and the Industrial Relations Court of Australia since 1995.  From 2004 through 2013 Justice Marshall held office as an additional Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.  In addition:
  • After graduating with a Bachelor of Economics and Law (Honours) from Monash University, Justice Marshall was called to the Bar in 1981.  During his early career Justice Marshall tutored industrial and administrative law at Monash University.  
  • In 2003 he was awarded the Centenary Medal for his service to industrial relations. 
  • At this time Justice Marshall was appointed Trustee to the Caulfied Racecouse Reserve.  
  • In 2005 Justice Marshall was appointed Associate Member of the Judicial Monitoring Program of East Timor.  The program, established in 2001, supports the justice system of Timor Leste to comply with international law standards and the promotion of equal access to, and fair treatment from, the justice system.  The program also supports the Timor Leste legal system in their adoption of International Human Rights.  
  • In 2006 Justice Marshall was appointed associate Member of Tarwirri - the Indigenous Law Students and Lawyers Association of Victoria.  
  • From 2008 until its dissolution in 2013, Justice Marshall served as law faculty Board Member at Monash University.  
  • In 2013 Justice Marshall become Ambassador of the new Wellbeing and Law Foundation.  The foundation is a joint initiative of the Victorian Bar Association and the Law Institute of Victoria.  Its aim is to raise awareness and funds to address the prevalence of mental health issues within the legal profession.  
  • Since 2014 Justice Marshall has served the advisory board of the Australian Intercultural Society, of which he now serves as Deputy Chair.
The 2015 AGM celebrated some of the milestones which have helped shape our service over the last forty years. 
This year the partnership between SMLS and South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (SECASA) turn 20 years old.  In recognition of this significant milestone, and their contribution to the partnership
since the beginning, we honoured SECASA manager Carolyn Worth OAM and SECASA staff member Meg Butterfield.
Carolyn Worth has been manager of SECASA for 21 years.  Carolyn was instrumental in the formation of the partnership with SMLS, noting the importance of a specialised sexual assault legal clinic for those having to navigate the legal system amidst complex and sensitive personal hardship.
Meg began her journey with SECASA and SMLS as a student of the Monash University professional practice unit.  Following university, she embarked on her legal professional career elsewhere but soon returned to continue her work at SECASA. 
This year also marks forty years of the Monash University Clinical Programs.  The Programs provide (in the SMLS context) an introduction and illumination of law practice.  It also provides them with an introduction to social justice values. The programs enable us to increase service capacity for our community.
Last, but not least, we announced the appointment of Honourable Justice Shane Marshall who will serve as our inaugural patron.  

Above:  Carolyn Worth OAM and Meg Butterfield
From left:  Justice Shane Marshall, SMLS Chair David Starvaggi, and SMLS Executive Director Kristen Wallwork
SMLS launches new project to provide legal safety net for Monash Health patients.
Springvale Monash Legal Service (SMLS) has developed a project which will work collaboratively with Monash Health to address the unmet legal needs of Monash Health patients. 
Research has found that waiting times and geographic accessibility are barriers to people seeking legal assistance.  Additional contributing factors are fear of the justice system and a lack of recognition about the legal nature of an issue.  SMLS appreciates that high numbers of unmet legal issues effect many Monash Health patients who may be experiencing disadvantage.
This project will address unmet legal needs in two ways; by increasing health workers’ capacity to recognise legal issues, and by establishing a legal clinic at Monash Health Dandenong.
SMLS recognises the important role health and medical workers play in assisting their patients to seek timely legal assistance.  Research has shown that patients often disclose legal issues to health workers before other services.  This is often the case in circumstances of sexual assault and family violence.  It is important that health workers are armed with the knowledge to identify common legal issues.  The training will also equip them with an understanding of how to support the patient find their way through legal advice and referral pathways. 
Health and medical workers will receive legal education training to increase their capacity to identify the legal issues of their patients.  The training will also equip them with an understanding of how to support the patient through seeking legal advice and referral pathways.
To compliment the health worker training, an outreach lawyer will be based at Monash Health Dandenong providing assistance and referrals as necessary.  It is anticipated that this will increase patients’ confidence and knowledge in the legal system; and reduce the amount of unmet legal needs among members of the community.
The inclusion of Monash Law students from our clinical practice will ensure the project will have the greatest reach.
Funding for this project has been provided as part of Attorney General, Honourable Martin Pakula’s Community Legal Centre Assistance Fund.        
SMLS to fill service delivery gap in family violence legal matters
Springvale Monash Legal Service (SMLS) has been awarded funding as part of the Attorney General, Honourable Martin Pakula’s Family Violence Duty Lawyer Fund.  This funding will see the inclusion of a second family violence duty lawyer which will address the existing gap in service delivery.
SMLS is committed to providing holistic support to clients.  Ongoing casework assistance will be provided to support the applicant through the entire process. Research into the experiences of applicants highlights the overwhelming emotional response that they feel as a result of the stressful and alien environment, with many raising concerns that they are not provided with enough time to discuss their options to make informed decisions.

Currently, if a client presents with both family violence and criminal legal matters, both matters are listed together.  Whilst the respondent is able to access Victorian Legal Aid (VLA) advice, this has not been the case for applicants, as their duty lawyer is only able to assist with the family violence issue.  Historically, SMLS did not have the capacity to provide an additional duty lawyer to attend family violence matters when they are listed together.  This left applicants at a marked disadvantage at not being advised or represented by a lawyer in the face of very demanding issues.  This funding will ensure that SMLS maintains a comprehensive approach to service delivery. 

SMLS is honoured to be a recipient of this funding; and will welcome the inclusion of a duty lawyer to ensu
re more equitable access to justice for applicants. 
The privatisation of Australia’s vocational education sector in 2010 has resulted in the emergence in training institutions who have seen an opportunity to exploit vulnerable people using high pressure selling techniques.  We have been made aware of Registered Training Organisation who offer courses to students with fees offset via VET FEE Help, attracting individuals who are unable to pay fees up front.  Some RTOs are employing high pressure tactics including door knocking, offering incentives such as laptops, iPads and vouchers to lure prospective students.  Anecdotal evidence suggests
people have signed unfair contracts and have been refused refunds when withdrawing from courses, despites having legitimate or unavoidable reasons.
Salespeople often target lower socio-economic areas, approaching people of CALD background, individuals with intellectual disabilities and people affected by drug or alcohol dependence.  Community service providers in the City of Greater Dandenong have reported salespeople attempting to engage newly arrived clients to sign them up for courses.  Our colleagues from the Consumer Action Law Centre have seen complaints from students, ranging from a lack of teachers to poor teaching standards.  
We are happy to receive referrals to our drop-in service on this issue by students.
SMLS end of year Battle of the Bowls
We chose to celebrate the season and the end of a year's hard work with a battle of the bowls.
Converging on St Kilda Lawn Bowls, we slogged it out on the green.  It was an evening of barefoot bowling, BBQing and beer, alongside the four legged friends of the bowling club.  
Victory was claimed by Phyllis, Daniel and Andrea, with undeniable honours going to the woman who clearly had hidden talents, Andrea.
Photo: Family lawyer, Andrea Videon showing us how its done.
Copyright © 2015, Springvale Monash Legal Service, All rights reserved.
South Eastern Justice, Issue 2, December, 2015.

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