The Far West Community Legal Centre has hit the ground running since reopening its doors to walk-in appointments in August.
The Centre’s office on Oxide Street has employed two new law graduates, Lily Dumble and Justin Mitchell, who are set to be admitted to practice law early next year. A permanent Principal Solicitor and another new law graduate will also join Warra Warra in the coming weeks.
The new law graduates are among the first to utilise the Centre’s new software package, Action Step, which aims to transform how the Centre delivers legal services to its clients.
Now, the Centre operates at the Court on Tuesdays and Fridays, with Lisa Braid, CEO of the Far West Community Legal Centre, noting that they are “achieving some good Court outcomes for clients who wouldn’t otherwise have representation.”
In addition, the Centre is progressing with a series of Community Legal Education Sessions to be held throughout the remainder of this financial year. These sessions will cover topics such as Wills and Probate, among other areas of law impacting the community.
The Centre’s work isn’t confined to Broken Hill; its outreach programs are now in full swing. “We’ve restarted our outreach services to Wilcannia, and we have upcoming events in Tibooburra on 14 November and White Cliffs on 15 November,” confirmed Ms Braid.
Importantly, Menindee, Ivanhoe, and Wilcannia communities are already engaged with the Centre. Martin Bass, the Centre’s Chair, met with Aboriginal community representatives across the Far West last week to discuss various topics. “Mr Bass has been in discussions about our 5-year Strategic Plan, which commits us to greater engagement with the Aboriginal community, our draft Reconciliation Action Plan, and our Board positions—two of which have been recently reserved for Aboriginal people,” Ms Braid confirmed.
These conversations also touched on new funding opportunities that the Centre is exploring, including a new funding stream known as the First Nations Justice Reinvestment fund. “The purpose of this fund, which is from the Attorney-General’s Department, is to redirect funding that would otherwise go to the prison system toward early intervention and breaking the cycle of recidivism,” noted Ms Braid.
The Centre is also examining how this funding could complement its existing services. “We are also investigating funding for short-term housing for Aboriginal women and children escaping family violence, given the pressures we are seeing on the emergency and public housing systems in the Far West,” added Ms Braid.
All these initiatives mark a brave new chapter for the Centre, which is actively seeking to restore local justice on multiple legal fronts. With more news to come in the upcoming weeks, the Centre has certainly hit the ground running.