Free legal advice goes a long way

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Thanks, volunteers: Kath Neilsen Memorial Award winner Amanda Graham, second from left, with Maurice Blackburn lawyer Travis Fewster, CEO Jackie Galloway and Volunteers & Education general manager Andrea Staunton.

Thanks, volunteers: Kath Neilsen Memorial Award winner Amanda Graham, second from left, with Maurice Blackburn lawyer Travis Fewster, CEO Jackie Galloway and Volunteers & Education general manager Andrea Staunton.

PENINSULA Community Legal Centre is celebrating the contributions of its volunteers who enable it to offer free legal advice four nights a week.

The not-for-profit organisation has been providing ongoing assistance to clients on low incomes since 1977.

Its volunteers were celebrated around the world on 5 December: International Volunteer Day, by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985.

“Last year our volunteer lawyers provided more than 2000 free legal advices,” Volunteers and Education general manager Andrea Staunton said.

“Seventy-six per cent of clients assisted by volunteers had no or low incomes (less than $500 gross per week).”

Lawyer volunteers run evening advice clinics at the head office in Frankston and branches at Rosebud, Bentleigh and Cranbourne, with support from a team of paralegal volunteers.

The centre also benefits from the governance of a volunteer-based management committee, and from the contributions of trainee lawyers and special project volunteers.

Lawyer volunteer, Amanda Graham, from White Cleland Lawyers and Consultants, which has a branch at Frankston, has received the centre’s highest honour, the 2015 Kath Neilson Memorial Award. It created in 2002 in honour of the late Kath Neilsen, a founder and strong supporter of the centre.

Ms Graham began as a lawyer-volunteer in 2005, providing free legal advice to clients on a variety of issues. She has since used her expertise as an accredited family law specialist to present family law professional development sessions to volunteers and staff.

“Peninsula Community Legal Centre has been a hub of legal support in the community for many years,” Ms Graham said.

“It provides a means for volunteers to get involved in the community. Opportunities for volunteers are varied and volunteer contributions are appreciated and recognised.

“I would like to thank the centre for the opportunities it provides for all members of the community.”

Ms Staunton says: “Our volunteers have great impact on the centre’s ability to respond to local legal needs and advance justice for our community.”

Call 9783 3600 or visit pclc.org.au for details.

First published in the Frankston Times – 11 January 2016

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