Equal opportunity legal clinics improve access to justice
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Law students at University of Adelaide are improving access to justice for people facing discrimination, harassment and victimisation by providing free legal advice at a series of new clinics.
Offered in the offices of the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC), the clinics will assist people who are representing themselves in making claims before the Commission.
Equal opportunity is the right to be treated fairly in public life regardless of people’s personal characteristics. People at some time in their life may think they haven't had a fair go.
“Nowadays, it’s much more common for people to represent themselves when taking legal action,” says Margaret Castles, Senior Lecturer and Director of Clinical Education, Adelaide Law School.
“In straightforward disputes many people don’t see the need for a lawyer and most self-represented litigants (SRL) simply can’t afford the cost of legal advice and representation.
“Not surprisingly, many people find the legal system (not to mention the law) daunting, confusing and alienating.
“Clinics such as these help them put forward stronger cases which are more likely to be successful when they present themselves in conciliation and tribunal hearings,” says Ms Castles.
The legal clinics are staffed by final year undergraduates and a supervising lawyer who checks the advice that is provided.
“Giving advice to people who are unfamiliar with the legal system, in real cases where they have been discriminated against, is a valuable way of putting theory into practice,” says Noel Williams, law student from the Adelaide Law School.
“We are providing people with advice on the complaint and conciliation process, have assisted with writing complaints and helped them to prepare for tribunal hearings,” says Mr Williams.
Commissioner for Equal Opportunity Dr Niki Vincent said the clinics would complement the Commission’s work in tackling discrimination and harassment.
“As the Commission conciliates complaints relating to the Equal Opportunity Act, the advice we can provide to people is very general,” she said.
“These clinics can help provide specialised, specific advice to individuals wishing to lodge a complaint with the Commission.”
Dr Vincent said people contacting the Commission seeking specialised advice would be referred to the clinics as appropriate.
Clinic dates and times:
15 January to 20 February, Mondays and Tuesdays 9 am - 5 pm
26 February to 15 June and 23 July to 2 November, Mondays 9 am - 5 pm
Equal Opportunity Commission, Level 17, 45 Pirie Street, Adelaide
Phone 08 8207 1977, 10 am – 3 pm and ask to be put through to the service
Appointments can be made online or email email@example.com
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5722
Dr Niki Vincent
Equal Opportunity Commissioner
Mobile: +61 (0)422 007 069
Mr Crispin Savage
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 (0)481 912 465