How new community website Everyday-Law can work for you

With the launch of our new legal information website,, 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 from your website. We can even provide a logo and a short description just contact our Everyday-Law team on 9604 8100 or email


Thanks for another great Law Week.

Law Week 2013 has now wrapped up after another successful week full of great events across the state getting people involved in the law.

Over the week, hundreds of Victorians found out more about the Victorian legal system by taking part in the many events that featured on this year’s exciting program.

There was a full house at the Sentencing Advisory Council’s Q&A and the Wheeler Centre Lunchbox/Soapbox as people came along to hear what the great speakers had to say, but also ask their own questions. You can now watch Hugh de Kretser’s talk at the Wheeler Centre online.

Hugh de Kretser at the Wheeler Centre

Hugh de Kretser at the Wheeler Centre

The RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice opened up the Old Magistrate’s Court for the first time during Law Week. An eager crowd were taken through parts of the old building before hearing a discussion on Justice: past, present and future.

Courts Open Day was once again a success – particularly with the County Court and Children’s Court joining with the Supreme Court and Magistrates’ Court this year. There was a fascinating program of events held throughout the day and the sausage sizzle was popular raising $375.20 for Berry Street.

Courts Open Day sausage sizzle

Courts Open Day sausage sizzle

Thanks to everyone who came along to our events to learn more about how the law works. We’d love to hear your feedback. Help us improve future Law Weeks by completing our two minute survey. Click here to take the survey.

Particular thanks to the City of Melbourne who joined Law Week this year as our event partner. The Law Institute of Victoria who were once again a sponsor and the Institute of Legal Executives who joined us as an education sponsor this year.

City of Melbourne, Law Week event partner

City of Melbourne, Law Week event partner

And a huge thank you also goes out to all of our event organisers, who’ve worked extremely hard to deliver a fantastic Law Week program. Through their hard work, thousands of Victorians now have a fresh insight and a better understanding of the law and the legal system, which is exactly the point of Law Week.

Law Week 2013 roll call:

Ag Chat Oz
Castan Centre for Human Rights Law
CE Family Lawyers
Centre for Innovative Justice
Children’s Court of Victoria
Consumer Affairs Victoria
Coroners Court of Victoria
Cosgriff Orhard Legal
County Court of Victoria
Court Network Inc
Craft Victoria
Deakin University
Department of Justice
Disability Discrimination Legal Service
Environment Defenders Office (Victoria) Ltd
Fair Work Commission
Friends of St Kilda Cemetery Inc
Hume Riverina Community Legal Service
Industrial Relations Society of Victoria
Juries Commissioner’s Office
Law Institute of Victoria (LIV)
Liberty Victoria
Magistrates’ Court of Victoria
Melbourne Cemetery Tours
Migration Review Tribunal
Monash University
Office of the Public Advocate
Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner
Old Treasury Building
Seniors Rights Victoria
Sentencing Advisory Council
Sisters in Crime Australia
State Library of Victoria
Supreme Court of Victoria
Tarwirri (Indigenous Law Students & Lawyers Association of Victoria)
The Victorian Bar Inc.
The Wheeler Centre
Victoria Legal Aid
Victoria Police
Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (VACRO)
Victorian Bar
Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
Wangaratta Law Courts
West Heidelberg Community Legal Service Inc

Until next year, stay in touch with us for updates on Law Week 2014 via our facebook page or follow us on twitter.

Courts Open Day: the only time of year you want to go court!

What’s really behind the stately sandstone walls of the Supreme Court?

Supreme Court of Victoria

Photographer: Dianna Snape.

Today is the day to find out! Take a heritage and history tour through the halls and court rooms of the Supreme Court where so many notorious cases have played out. And step into the magnificent Supreme Court Library.

Inside the magnificant Supreme Court Library

Inside the magnificant Supreme Court Library

Come along for a sneak peek inside all our major courts and tribunals for Courts Open Day from 10am to 3pm. Where to start, where to start…

As well as the Supreme Court, the County, Magistrates’ and Children’s Courts together with the Coroners Court, VCAT, Court Network, the Juries Commissioner’s Office and other services are opening up their doors with a free program of tours, mock trials, ‘meet the judge’ sessions, exhibitions, career information sessions, talks and information stalls.

Highlights include:

The VCAT President, Chief Judge, and CEO of the Magistrates' Court turn snags on Courts Open Day in 2012

The VCAT President, Chief Judge, and CEO of the Magistrates’ Court turn snags on Courts Open Day in 2012

And of course, exploration is hungry work, so stop by for the sausage sizzle at the County Court forecourt. And if you’re in need of caffeine, to warm you up on this wintery Melbourne day, you can grab a coffee, too.

Find the details of all this and more on the Law Week program of events.

Day five and a twist of the tongue leads the tail end of Law Week

Ever been on hold and found yourself getting increasingly frustrated by the recorded message that never seems to understand that you just have a billing inquiry? Yes, of course you have. These days it’s virtually impossible to avoid talking to a recorded message.

Clearly, there’s room for improvement in voice identification software. This is where forensic linguists come in. Unlike fingers or feet, there’s no such thing as a voice print. At ‘slips of the tongue (and pen)‘ tonight, forensic linguist Dr Georgina Heywood will talk to Sandra Nicholson, Sisters in Crime convenor and former Assistant Commissioner of Victoria Police about how forensic linguistics is transforming crime detection.

You can also listen back to Dr Heywood talk about her work providing expert evidence on authorship and speaker identification in real life criminal trials on Triple R FM.

Also today, join Jennifer Burn, Associate Professor in the Law Faculty at the University of Technology, Sydney and Director of the Anti-Slavery Project, for a lunchtime discussion about forced labour and human trafficking hosted by the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law. A serious and largely hidden issue in Australia.

Today’s Law Week highlights also include:

Visit the Law Week program of events to find more great events on until Sunday. Follow Law Week on Facebook to share your thoughts or photos and join the Law Week conversation on Twitter.

Day four and Law Week goes to trial

We’ve all watched criminal trials on television and in the movies – maybe you’ve seen Legally Blonde lawyer Elle Woods trounce the defence using only her pink heels and perfect blonde locks –  but how much do you know about how trials really work?

elle woods

Today you can find out as barristers, solicitors and a judge take part in a mock criminal trial at the Supreme Court. Watch how a drug possession case works in Victoria after fictional defendant Evelyn Cannon is caught with cocaine.

If you’re interested to see how the courts work on a day to day basis – who does what, and what would be like to be a solicitor, a judge or a jury member – and you can’t wait for Courts Open Day, today is your chance to go backstage at courts in Shepparton, Geelong, Ballarat, Broadmeadows and Moorabbin. Take a tour and talk to a registrar.

Spice up your sandwich with Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre Hugh de Kretser at 12:45 today. He steps up to the Wheeler Centre’s Lunchbox/Soapbox to address the topic: does Australia need a more developed ‘rights culture’? Are Australians apathetic towards about rights? Why? And why does it matter?

Wind down over a drink with GLOBE, the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of Business and Enterprise, at the Law Week Fruits and Blends event. Discuss legal issues affecting the GLBTI community, catch up with colleagues and make new contacts.

More details of all these events and more are available on the Law Week program of events. If you’ve been to an event, let us know! Leave your comments here, on Facebook and share them on Twitter. 

What’s human rights got to do with it?

Tomorrow as a part of Law Week, Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre, Hugh de Kretser, will get up on his soapbox and have a good rant about Selectivity in Australia’s Human Rights Protection. It’s a free lunchbox/soapbox session at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre, so come along and bring your lunch: 12:45pm – 1:15pm, Thursday 16 May 2013.

Human Rights Law Centre Executive Director Hugh de Kretser with Victoria Law Foundation Grants Manager Erin Dolan

Human Rights Law Centre Executive Director Hugh de Kretser with Victoria Law Foundation Grants Manager Erin Dolan

As a preview Hugh spoke to us about the work of the Human Rights Law Centre and his vision for human rights in Australia.

What does the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) do?
We protect and promote human rights in Australia and through Australian foreign policy. We do this though a combination of evidence-based advocacy, strategic litigation, research and education.

What was your background before joining the HRLC?
I started my career in corporate law at Mallesons, but for the past decade I’ve been working in community legal centres, most recently as the Executive Officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres, the peak body for Victoria’s fifty community legal centres. I’ve also been a Commissioner on the Victorian Law Reform Commission and I am a Director of the Sentencing Advisory Council.

What attracted you to the role at the HRLC?
I’ve followed the work of the HRLC closely since its foundation in 2006 and have previously been a board member. It’s a fantastic organisation with a great operating model, an outstanding staff team and strong partnerships across Australia. It has a big positive impact on human rights. It’s very exciting to get the chance to lead the HRLC and extend that impact.

What are the key priorities for the HRLC in the coming year?
We’ve got seven key priorities in our strategic plan that we will continue working on: strengthening the legal protection of human rights, UN engagement, foreign policy, Indigenous rights, rights of people in detention, police accountability and violence against women.

What are the major human rights issues facing Australia currently?
Entrenched disadvantage continues to affect many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and Indigenous Australians are fifteen times more likely to be in prison than non-Indigenous Australians. The treatment of asylum seekers is a continued source of injustice. We need to cut rates of violence and sexual assault. Poverty and homelessness need to be addressed and Australia can do much better on the treatment of people with cognitive and physical disabilities. We need to promote the humane treatment of people in prison and other places of detention. Rights are not adequately protected due to the absence of an enforceable national Human Rights Charter.

If you were the Attorney-General what would you change?
I’m optimistic about the potential to improve human rights in Australia with concerted action and improved protections. Genuine consultation and opportunities for education and work are needed in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and appropriate recognition of Indigenous peoples in the constitution is well overdue. Adequate social security will help to address poverty in Australia. A humane, rational and cost effective asylum seeker policy would end prolonged detention and offshore processing. In the Attorney-General’s portfolio, a justice reinvestment approach holds great promise in cutting crime, reducing prison spending and strengthening communities. Ratifying and implementing the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture will prevent deaths and abuse in custody. An overarching national charter of rights will promote better decision making in government and help to ensure government and legislative actions don’t breach fundamental rights.

The foundation provided establishment funding to the Human Rights Law Centre. With its establishment in January 2006, the Human Rights Law Centre became the first legal centre in Australia dedicated to human rights law.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow morning we’ll give you an overview of Thursday’s Law Week highlights. Or visit the Law Week program of events. You can also follow Law Week on Facebook and join the Law Week conversation on Twitter.

Day three of Law Week goes high tech

The law turned on social media last night as the Ag Chat network took to Twitter to discuss legal matters important to agricultural communities. Today, Law Week continues this high tech approach to reaching rural and regional Victorians. Deakin University’s video conference forum on the NDIS is simulcast to fourteen locations across the state this morning, truly helping to make Law Week a festival for all Victorians no matter where you live.


Photo by Catherine Vale

Other regional events today are bridging the divide to look at legal services in Albury Wodonga and what it means to live in a cross-border region, while further down the river a session on wills and powers of attorney will be held in Echuca.

For those in Melbourne the ever-popular Great Law Week Debate is back tonight. This year Monash law students and alumni will tackle the topic ‘free speech isn’t free enough in Australia’. Or if dinner and a movie is more your style, head up to Nova Cinemas in Carlton for a screening of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, featuring a live Q&A with the filmmaker.

Follow Law Week on Facebook to share your thoughts or photos and join the Law Week conversation on Twitter.  Visit the Law Week program of events to find more great events on until Sunday.