How new community website Everyday-Law can work for you

With the launch of our new legal information website, Everyday-Law.org.au, you now have a one-stop-shop to access all the best easy-to-understand legal information online. The site can help make your plain language materials more accessible to the public and help you support your clients on a range of common legal issues. Here’s how. 

Everyday-Law is a major new website produced by us at the Victoria Law Foundation. It brings together almost 1,500 carefully selected resources developed by organisations like yours, from across the legal sector, government and beyond.

As a result, it makes resources produced across the sector now easier for people to find – by including them in a site that is friendly, yet authoritative, easy to navigate and designed specifically to meet the needs of people in the community searching for legal answers.

While the website is primarily for the public, people working in the legal sector or government can also use the site to find the best available plain language materials for their clients.

All the resources included on the site have been carefully checked to make sure they are accurate, up-to-date and relevant – and they are ranked, so your search will highlight the best available resources for that issue.

Where your clients need more specific legal advice, you can search the site’s Law Help section for free or low-cost legal services to point people to the most appropriate organisation for them. This part of the website provides an online version of our popular hardcopy Law help directory.

“Everyday-Law is the result of nine months of hard work by the foundation to take online legal information to the next level. We’ve come up with an audience-focused site that helps the community find legal answers, search for legal services and learn more about the legal system,” said the Victoria Law Foundation Executive Director, Joh Kirby.

“We encourage organisations across the legal sector, the courts and government to link to Everyday-Law from your own websites, as a resource for the community and for your organisation,” Joh said.

Encourage your organisation to link to www.everyday-law.org.au from your website. We can even provide a logo and a short description just contact our Everyday-Law team on 9604 8100 or email contact@everyday-law.org.au.

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Five things you’ll gain from an internship with the Victoria Law Foundation

Getting experience in the legal sector can be the difference you need to really stand out in the workforce once you graduate. With a Victoria Law Foundation internship, not only will you feel good about working in an organisation that makes a difference, but you’ll expand your networks and get a behind-the-scenes look at a range of alternative legal careers too.

Lizzy Tunnecliff

Lizzy Tunnecliff tells all about her internship with us.

But don’t take just our word for it. We spoke with one of our past interns, Lizzy Tunnecliff, who told us what she got out of her Victoria Law Foundation internship last year.

Lizzy worked mostly in our grants area, looking at the best ways to evaluate the work our grants support, and making recommendations based on best-practice across the philanthropic sector.

So without further ado, here are Lizzy’s top five take-aways from our internship program.

 1.      Adapting skills for the workforce

The internship was fundamental in helping me make the transition from academic to professional writing. I gained a greater awareness of the importance of ensuring your writing meets your employer’s objectives, is reflective of resource limitations or public sector pressures, and incorporates your employer’s preferred style.

 2.      Getting to know who’s who in the legal sector

During my internship I spoke with a number of legal and philanthropic experts from a variety of organisations, including: Victoria Legal Aid, Public Interest Law Clearing House and Deakin University. I really valued their generosity in sharing their expertise and experience in project evaluation within the legal sector. Also, t

he foundation was great at connecting me with eminent members of the legal community. After completing my internship, I began volunteering at an environmental community legal centre which was another great development opportunity.

 3.      Bettering networking skills

My communication skills also developed during the internship. Whether it was attending meetings with potential grant recipients, assisting with the annual Legal Laneway Breakfast, or liaising with legal organisations, I now feel confident when engaging with stakeholders in my current role.

 4.      Dealing with organisational constraints

It was always challenging to hear so many excellent grant proposals from organisations, knowing that the foundation wouldn’t have financial capacity to fund all of the projects.

 5.      Insights into alternative legal careers

The internship program helped me see breadth of career opportunities available in the legal sector in government, not-for-profit and community organisations. After my internship, I was lucky enough to continue working at the foundation in a part time capacity. I had further exposure to the work of the foundation and its impact within metropolitan and rural Victoria. It helped me realise how much I enjoy making a tangible contribution to the community while making use of my legal skills.

 So where is Lizzy now?

After her internship, Lizzy stayed on at the foundation in casual employment; and since finishing her degree she is now gainfully employed in the Australian Public Service graduate program in Canberra. With her experience at the foundation behind her, she’s now working across legislative compliance and interpretation, health and social policy development, as well as having a stint in a Ministerial Office in Parliament House.

How to intern with us

We are now taking applications from current Victorian law students who’d like to join our internship program for 2014/15. To apply, just visit our website or contact us today. Applications close Monday 10 February 2014.

Lizzy’s tips for applying

Aside from academic marks and analytical skills, remember to communicate other qualities such as energy, enthusiasm and an ability to work productively in a collaborative environment, which can be just as important.

To find out more, visit: www.victorialawfoundation.org.au

Taking the law to more students than ever before

In just five months our new schools program, Classroom Law Talks, has successfully reached over 500 students! We launched the new program earlier this year in the regional town of Sale, during one of our Law Talks Intensive programs.

The response from students, teachers and presenters has been extremely positive, with feedback and demand far exceeding our expectations. One student recently told us: “The trip [to Wangaratta County Court] was invaluable for legal studies students as we were able to witness what we had learnt in action and it also increased and broadened our knowledge on the legal system.” – Year 12 Student, Benalla College

Peter Ryan MP and The Honourable P.D. Cummins launch Classroom Law Talks in Sale.

Deputy Premier The Honourable Peter Ryan MP and Foundation Char The Honourable P.D. Cummins launch Classroom Law Talks in Sale.

Classroom Law Talks builds on our existing work connecting students in rural and regional Victoria with the legal profession. It has already seen students from as far away as Mildura, Wodonga and Morwell discussing legal topics with barristers in their own classroom, or visiting their local court to hear from a judge and witness the law in action.

This new program is a valuable addition to our Schools Education Program, which aims to inspire and engage students in the law – something that will hopefully lead to a lifelong interest and understanding of legal issues. The program would not be possible without the generosity of the County Court judges and members of the Victorian Bar who contribute their time for the students.

This fantastic initiative builds on our successful Law Talks Intensive program – a free, two day event for VCE legal studies students that has been running since 2006. Held twice a year in different regional centres around Victoria it provides an interactive addition to the curriculum, otherwise unavailable outside the metropolitan area.

Students taking part in Law Talks, March 2013

Students taking part in Law Talks, March 2013

This week we’re in Warrnambool for the second Law Talks Intensive of the year. With over 300 student from nine surrounding schools attending, we’re well on track to improve Victorian students’ access to the law, right across the state.

For more information on Law Talks, visit our website or contact our Education Coordinator. If you have an idea for a legal project that will help to improve Victorians’ experience and understanding of the law but need funding to make it happen, why not talk to our Grants and Awards Manager to find out if you could be eligible for a grant from us.

Sir Redmond Barry: visionary or scoundrel?

At Victoria Law Foundation, we think that every Victorian should have the right to access information and education – and so we’re celebrating the life of one of Melbourne’s founders, who famously thought just the same! This week it’s the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir Redmond Barry, the brilliant and charismatic Irish lawyer who arrived in Melbourne in 1839, and founded both State Library of Victoria and the University of Melbourne. You might know of Sir Redmond Barry as the Supreme Court judge who ordered the execution of Ned Kelly – but there’s a lot more to the story of this memorable Melbourne character than this.

redmondbarryfellowship

Sir Redmond Barry, University of Melbourne
University of Melbourne Photographs
(UMA/I/1506)

Sir Redmond was so keen to for everyone to be able to access books and information that he opened his own collection of books and journals to everyone: in the 1840s, you could just knock on the door of his cottage, at 97 Bourke Street, and spend some time in his personal library of over 3000 books.  He founded the State Library of Victoria in the same spirit, arguing that that everyone should be able to access information about the law – or any other branch of learning they chose. He insisted that ‘persons of both sexes and all notions about fourteen years of age’ must be ‘admitted free without letter of recommendation, guarantee, payment, signature or address, or ticket of admission’.

Sir Redmond certainly raised some colonial eye-brows, both with his liberal views on access to education, and also with his lively private life (on journey from London to Sydney, he was confined to his cabin for carrying on an affair with a married lady passenger; in Melbourne, he had a well-known and long-lived affair with Mrs Louisa Barrow, for whom he built a house in Brunswick Street).

In the words of the Melbourne Argus, in 1880, we’re grateful that Sir Redmond took the ‘splendid opportunity for the founding of two such noble institutions as the Melbourne University and the Free Public Library’, and we’re looking forward to the events at the State Library this week that celebrate this ‘genial host’, ‘entertaining companion’, and founder of Melbourne’s great tradition of providing public access to quality information and education.

Sir Redmond Barry

And by the way, we think Sir Redmond would have been proud to wear the Victoria Law Foundation’s Law Week sash last year!

Visit www.barry-bicentennial.net for a list of the various talks and events celebrating the Sir Redmond Barry Bicentennial at the State Library, the University of Melbourne, the Supreme Court Library and the Old Melbourne Goal.

County Koori Court – who’s your mob

With Law Week just around the corner, the County Court share a preview of what’s sure to be one of their Courts Open Day highlights. Judge Smallwood will share his insights about the County Koori Court at Courts Open Day on Saturday May 18 at 12pm in the County Court in Melbourne. It’s a rare opportunity to hear from the Judge in charge of the County Koori Court. There’s no need to book, just show up on the day. 

Judge Smallwood

Judge Smallwood

The County Koori Court started in the Latrobe Valley in 2009.

It deals with Koori offenders, who are over represented in our courts system, and tries to address the causes of offending and prevent reoffending.

This Court deals with people who are often drug dependant, alcohol dependent, unemployed and quite often mentally ill or severely disconnected.

It only deals with serious offending and frequently people with an extensive criminal history.

The court is now well established in Morwell, and it is planned to extend it to the County Court in Melbourne.

It is no ‘easy’ option for the accused. To be eligible to appear before this court, the offender must:

  • Plead guilty and consent to having the case heard in the Koori Court
  • Be charged with an offence that does not involve family violence, a sexual offence or breach of an intervention order
  • Be willing to come to court and talk about their story.

What happens in court?
There are three stages to each hearing. First stage is the formal proceeding, called arraignment. The Judge is robed and the accused enters a formal guilty plea.

The second stage is the sentencing conversation. The Judge comes down from the bench. The Judge, Elders and respected persons, the accused, lawyer for the accused, prosecutor, Koori Court officer, corrections officer and the family/support people sit around a table.

The accused talks about the offending and the Elders talk to the offender. Everyone has a chance to be heard.

The third stage is where the Judge delivers the sentence. The sentence is in line with any other sentence in the County Court, and is decided by the Judge alone.

The hearings are powerful and confronting for the accused. The evidence suggests that it is successful. The data shows that at the moment, the offenders in the Koori Court have not generally reoffended.

Law Talks visits Sale

This week our Schools Education Manager Fiona Dea is in Sale to run our Law Talks Intensive program. As part of our visit to Sale, Victoria’s Deputy Premier Peter Ryan MP is launching our exciting new Classroom Law Talks program. Classroom Law Talks brings members of the legal profession and judiciary into legal studies classrooms across regional Victorian schools, providing a tailored and interactive experience. Find out how you can request a Classroom Law Talks session for your students or become a Classroom Law Talks presenter.

Read on to find out what Fiona’s got planned for Sale’s VCE legal studies students this week.

Over 240 VCE legal studies students from the Gippsland region are preparing to be inspired  at Law Talks Sale by a brilliant line up of presenters working in the law from judges to politicians to police officers!

On 13 and 14 March, a wide range of presenters will descend upon the Gippsland Grammar to present to VCE legal studies students on legal topics that will assist them with their studies and hopefully inspire them to take a life long interest in the law.

Law Talks Intensive presenters generously volunteer their time and expertise.  Deputy Premier Peter Ryan MP will share with students his experiences as a member of parliament and talk about the role of parliament. Other presenters include former Supreme Court Judge the Honourable P.D. Cummins, Magistrate Clive Alsop and Paul Dore from the Office of the Juries Commissioner.

Some of the legal topics up for discussion over the two days include what makes an effective law?, dispute resolution methods, television and the law as well as a parliamentary legislation role play, as well as a visit to the Sale Magistrates’ Court.

As the only outreach program specifically for VCE legal studies students in Victoria we hope that Law Talks Intensive helps students to think about the law beyond the classroom, improve their understanding of the legal system and inspiring an active interest in the law that will help them throughout their lives.


Sexting – one moment can lead to a lifetime of consequences

Are you familiar with this story? ‘Teen sext haunts man 7 years on’. It’s a cautionary tale.

Sexting is a major issue for young people. Many are unaware that sending or receiving a sexually explicit photo, video or message of themselves can be illegal under the Victorian child pornography laws.

This is one of the reasons the Parliament of Victoria’s Law Reform Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into sexting, looking at where the law might need to change to better deal with sexting. The report is due to be released in April. Listen to what Michael Holcroft, the Law Institute of Victoria’s 2012 President, had to say about the need for the inquiry.

While the need for law reform has been recognised, what happens to young people in the mean time? Evidence suggests that many schools are chosing to handle sexting matters interally rather than notify the police.  So last year South Eastern Centre for Sexual Assualt (SECASA) and Youthlaw joined forces to help schools educate students about the implications of sexting.

SECASA will launch their anti-sexting pack in June this year. This pack will be distributed to every secondary school in Victoria, and will also available for download. This project was funded by a Victoria Law Foundation grant. Our next general grants round closes on 18 March 2013. If you have a great idea for a legal project talk to our grants manager now!

We spoke to SECASA’s Manager Carolyn Worth about what they’re doing to help  teachers and counsellors tackle the problem of sexting.

Why are we seeing sexting in the news so much?
It has become ‘normalised behaviour’ in adolescent culture. It may expose young adults to significant risk and have huge implications for later life if a picture is posted on the internet. There is a lot of peer pressure to engage in sexting by both boys and girls. Many see sexts as a part of the dating ritual. A few see it as sport, a way in which to exert influence over others, to bully or for revenge, or as blackmail. Many young people are unsure how to say ‘No’ if they are asked to send a sext, or forward one to their friends. Many parents and school administration staff are also unsure how to respond when dealing with young people sexting. Girls send photos to boys who say that if they really love them they will send them a picture. Boys see it as a badge of honour that they have been sent one by their girlfriend. They often show them to their friends and sometimes send them on. Girls are sometimes flattered to be asked to send a picture. It is complex area of behaviour.

How did you come up with the idea for the anti-sexting pack?
This originally came from a Monash University medical student Community Based Practice Program project about sexting. Their task was to create some fact sheets for parents and students to go onto our website. At the end of their project we decided it would be a good idea to create a postcard to be distributed to young people. The anti-sexting pack came about as a direct result of the postcard.

During a discussion with teachers requesting more sexting resources we explained that the postcard could be broken down into four types of behaviour that were contributing to the current sexting trends. Our schools program staff already used these squares/themes in classes on anti-sexting. Teachers asked for these to be explored and teased out for use in classes.

In conjunction with the postcard, the schools program had a student on placement who was tasked with creating an anti sexting game. This student and SECASA staff developed two anti-sexting games and have developed two more. These games will be included in the pack.

Respect me, don't sext me postcard

Respect me, don’t sext me postcard

16016_Sexting-2

Respect me, don’t sext me postcard

What has the reaction been like to the postcard from students and teachers?
This postcard has proved extremely popular. It appeals to a wide range of age groups.  We send out about 10,000 every three months to a wide range of agencies, schools and organisations.  It has also proved very successful for those working with clients with an intellectual disability.

SECASA held information sessions with parents and discovered that generally adolescents and parents do not have clear information about sexting and did not know that sexting with consent was illegal.

What kind of impact do you hope the anti-sexting pack will have?
We are hoping to change the attitudes and behaviours towards sexting. We would like young people to see that sexting is a risky behaviour and exposes them to many unfavourable short and long term consequences.