Independent umpire as important now as ever – Victorian Ombudsman to visit Wodonga for Law Week Launch 2018

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass OBE will speak about the exercise of discretion in administrative decision-making at a keynote address to mark the beginning of Law Week. Ms Glass is a guest of the Hume Riverina Community Legal Service (HRCLS), which is holding a Law Week Launch on Friday 11 May at The Cube Wodonga at 3pm.

Following a distinguished career in London, in several high-profile roles including deputy chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission of England and Wales, Ms Glass was appointed for a 10-year term in March 2014 as the Victorian Ombudsman.

HRCLS senior lawyer Karen Keegan said the office of the Victorian Ombudsman played a vital role in ensuring people had an independent body to approach when issues needed to be resolved.

Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass OBE

“We are proud to be part of a sector that views access to justice in the highest importance,” Ms Keegan said.

Ms Keegan said the service was pleased Ms Glass had accepted the invitation to launch Law Week to give people on the Border a chance to learn about her role four years after being appointed.

“Our motto is ‘Linking the community with the Law’ and while we do this on a daily basis, Law Week is a chance for us to extend that beyond legal assistance to broader legal education,” she said.

“People expect fair and reasonable decision-making in the Victorian public sector, and this is an opportunity for people to hear how the Ombudsman approaches her work to reach decisions,” she said. “Ms Glass holds a firm belief in public sector integrity and the protection of human rights, and these are values that many people in our region are also passionate about upholding.”

The office of the Victorian Ombudsman is increasing its connection with the community legal sector, and Ms Keegan welcomes any move that strengthens this relationship. “We are looking forward to hearing more about the Ombudsman’s plan to build connections with our sector, and we would welcome any closer ties we could create to ensure the Ombudsman was aware of issues in our catchment in Victoria of 10 local government areas,” she said.

The HRCLS Law Week Launch is open to the public. Tickets are $10 and can be booked through the HRCLS website – http://hrcls.org.au/events/.

Family Court system on menu for Women in Law Breakfast 2018

NSW Woman Lawyer of the Year for 2017 Kylie Beckhouse will be the special guest speaker at the Hume Riverina Community Legal Service (HRCLS) Women in Law Breakfast on Thursday 17 May. This popular event brings together women from the legal profession on the NSW-Victorian border, as well as women with an interest in the law.

Ms Beckhouse’s distinguished career has spanned more than two decades. She is currently Director of Family Law at Legal Aid NSW, overseeing the largest family law practice in Australia. As an accredited specialist in family law and an independent children’s lawyer, Ms Beckhouse is passionate about the delivery of family law services to the most vulnerable in our society, particularly children and victims of domestic violence.

The Women In Law Breakfast topic this year is ‘The rise and fall of the Australian family court system’, with Ms Beckhouse speaking about how the pioneering system has evolved since its inception.

Kylie Beckhouse Woman Lawyer of the Year 2017

“When the Family Law Act was passed in 1975, it was heralded for its new approach to resolving family law disputes post-separation,” Ms Beckhouse said. “For decades after, our family law system was considered a showpiece of how a modern and innovative jurisdiction deals with some of its most vulnerable clients. Leap forward 40 years and the gloss has disappeared.”

Ms Beckhouse said the family law system was “under siege”, and  the current Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry could pave the way for change.

“The family law system is being criticised for being painstakingly slow, prohibitively expensive, and overlooking the rights of victims of violence and children,” Ms Beckhouse said.

HRCLS senior lawyer Karen Keegan said hosting Ms Beckhouse as part of Law Week 2018  was important for the service to fulfil its aim of keeping people informed about the legal system.

“We pride ourselves on educating the community about key aspects of the law, and Law Week is an opporutnity for us to bring quality speakers to talk on topics relevant to our area,” Ms Keegan said. “Law Week is another chance for us to link our community with the law. We value the partnerships we’ve created within our community and this event helps increase the strength of our relationships.”

The Women in Law Breakfast will be held at the Hovell Tree Inn, Albury. Bookings are limited and tickets are $25 each. Please register at Eventbrite.

Free community info session – FV and why early intervention helps

Looking for information about family violence for yourself or someone else? The Ovens Murray Integrated Family Violence Committee will be running a series of free community information sessions in Wangaratta in 2018. The sessions are free, informal and community oriented.

The first session will feature Hume Riverina Community Legal Service family lawyer Jodie Wells. It will be held at Gateway Wangaratta on Wednesday 28 March 2018, from 8am-9am.

Since March 2017, Ms Wells has attended the Centre Against Violence under a health-justice partnership arrangement in Wangaratta and Wodonga to give free legal assistance to women impacted by family violence.

“These clients are particularly vulnerable and are not entitled to legal aid, and they do not have the financial means to get legal assistance from private lawyers,” Ms Wells said.

The legal assistance provided to women in need covers a range of legal issues, including family violence, family law (child contact, property and divorce), debt problems, tenancy issues, applications to Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) and fines and infringements. As part of the evaluation process for the health justice partnership, statistics are recorded. Ms Wells said the top five categories overall have been

  1. Family Law Property in Marriage/De Facto
  2. Family Law Child Contact
  3. Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal applications
  4. Tenancy issues
  5. Fines/Infringements

“These top five issues make up about 40 per cent of my advice, and many people have multiple legal issues,” she said.

Ms Wells said the information session is aimed at support workers and health professionals, as well as victims and their family and friends. “This session will help people understand how this legal process works and how early intervention is important for getting a positive result,” she said.

For more information about the community session, or to register, visit EventBrite at bit.ly/FVinfosessions or call Jasmine Isaacs on 03 5722 3009. If you or anyone you know needs immediate help with family violence call 000 or contact Safe Steps on www.safesteps.org.au or 1800 015 188. 1800 015 188 1800 015 188 1800 015 188

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