Introducing the foundation’s new Grants Manager

We’re pleased to announce that Candace Reeves has been appointed permanently as the foundation’s Grants Manager. Candace has been acting in the position for three months and brings a strong focus on social justice to the role. We spoke with Candace to get to know her a little more.

Tell us a bit about yourself when you’re not at work?

Well, I’m passionate about human rights, travel and great coffee. My favourite place so far was India, and my most recent trip was to Scotland to watch my fiancée compete as part of the Canadian hockey team at the Commonwealth Games.

I’m also studying and have only two subjects left before I complete my law degree. When I’m not studying on the weekends, I like discovering new brunch spots and walking my sausage dog, Beanie.

Where were you before coming to the foundation?

I was working as a Senior Legal Assistant in the Human Rights Team at the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office.

What are the most innovative foundation grant projects you have come across?

Our grants funded the establishment of some of Victoria’s key legal bodies, such as Justice Connect’s Homeless Person Legal Clinic and the Human Rights Law Resource Centre. These projects met a real community need, and deliver services creatively in a way that’s targeted to that need – so they’ve had a long-term impact on the lives of Victorians, despite challenges associated with limited funding and resources.

 What sort of projects is the foundation looking to fund?

The foundation grants funding is for projects helping Victorians better understand the law. We’re looking for projects that fill gaps to help address community legal needs, and that can have a significant and long-term impact.

What do people need to know before applying for our grants?

Our general grants are for projects with budgets over $5,000, although we most commonly award between $20,000 and $50,000. We also have small grants for projects of $5,000 or less.

All our grant applicants also benefit from the foundation’s expertise in legal education, publishing and project management. Our staff can offer free advice on plain language, writing, editing, printing, online strategy, events and the legal studies curriculum. This can help develop your project idea, strengthen your application, and improve the overall success of your project.

Any tips on applying?

When writing your application focus on the impact of your project on the lives of Victorians.

We are looking to fund projects that make a real difference so make sure your project has a practical application and there’s a demonstrated need in the community

We can also help you put together your application to give you the best chance of success – so it pays to get in touch with me as soon as you have an idea for a project. I’m always interested to hear about people’s work and to discuss how we might be able to help.

How should people go about applying for a Victoria Law Foundation general grant?

Applications for our next general grants round close on the 17 March 2014 and our small grants are available year-round. You can read our grants criteria, download an application form and find out more about past projects we’ve funded, all on our website.

Make sure you contact us at least six weeks prior to the close date for advice before you apply, but also feel free to get in touch about your project any time to discuss your ideas.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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Kick start your legal project

Do you have an idea for a legal project that has the potential to change the way Victorians think about the law and the legal sector?

Our next grants round is now open and we’re looking for legal projects to fund. Not sure if your project fits? Read our Grants and Awards Manager Erin Dolan’s tips for applying for a foundation grant. And remember you don’t need to be a legal organisation or legal practitioner to apply.

Contact Erin today and talk to us about how we can help you get your project off and running. Applications close on 10 September 2013.

In our most recent grants round we awarded grants to these five great projects:

  • Human rights in three minutes
    Castan Centre for Human Rights Law will create a series of three minutes videos explaining which human rights are protected by Victorian law.
  • Discrimination Law Clinic
    The Disability Discrimination Legal Service will create a new state-wide Discrimination Law Clinic to help the legal and community sector to identify and address all types of discrimination, including age, race, religion, gender and disability.
  • VCAT planning appeals
    Environment Defenders Office (Victoria) will develop online video guides to help Victorians have a greater say in planning decisions being considered by VCAT.
  • Victorian trial of supported decision making
    The Office of the Public Advocate will offer isolated people with intellectual disabilities support to make their own decisions by matching them with an appropriately trained volunteer.

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

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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.

 

Grandparents, grandchildren and family law

“Longevity is a public health achievement, not a social or economic liability. On this International Day of Older Persons, let us pledge to ensure the well-being of older persons and to enlist their meaningful participation in society so we can all benefit from their knowledge and ability.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Monday was International Day of Older Persons, a day to celebrate the contribution and achievements of older people.

With all the talk about the burden of our ageing population, it’s easy to forget the important (and changing) role that older people play in our community. So, to mark International Day of Older Persons, we thought we’d share the story of a grant project that has had a positive impact on the lives of older people in Moreland.

Grandparents, grandchildren and family law
Becoming a grandparent can change your life. Many grandparents play a very hands-on role in the lives of their grandchildren, relishing every opportunity to participate in their care and development. But when a family breakdown happens, the role of a grandparent can change significantly – in some cases, the role of the grandparent can increase as they provide extra support or care. In other cases, some grandparents are given little or no contact with their grandchildren.

Family law in Australia recognises the importance of maintaining family links in children’s lives, particularly in divorces or separations. But it seems grandparents rarely seek legal advice or information about their rights following a family breakdown.

In the tight-knit Australian Greek community in Moreland, Moreland Community Legal Centre and the Australian Greek Welfare Society found that few grandparents understood that they had any legal rights when a family breakdown happens.

In 2011, Victoria Law Foundation awarded a general grant to Moreland Community Legal Centre, in partnership with the Australian Greek Welfare Society, to provide legal information for grandparents in relation to family law and access to grandchildren.

As part of their project, they spoke to more than 300 grandparents at three community legal information sessions to understand the issues they faced. They produced six fact sheets, in Greek and English, covering issues such as family dispute resolution, family violence, child protection and financial support for grandparents. A key part of the project was to promote children’s welfare and the role of the grandparents in relation to the welfare and development of children.

According to our Grants and Awards Manager Erin Dolan the project is a good example of how to develop legal information that meets the needs of the people you are trying to help.

“Although the project was not without difficulty, Moreland Community Legal Centre and the Australian Greek Welfare Society listened to the local community, heard what grandparents were saying to them, and the factsheets and legal information sessions were very successful as a result,” said Erin.

Moreland Community Legal Centre Principal Solicitor Scott Ashley said the project has had a number of unexpected outcomes. “The factsheets have really helped to raise awareness of our services, and we are seeing more older people coming to the centre with a variety of issues since the factsheets were launched. The project has also made the Board of Moreland Community Legal Centre rethink their priorities, to make sure it is best meeting the needs of the ageing migrant community in the area.”

Download the factsheets or read the final report of the project. Find out more about our Grants Program or apply for a grant for your legal project.

Beyond the Bars

“Why is it that Australia’s indigenous peoples are the most imprisoned people per capita in the world? To hear the answers to that question, you need to tune in to Beyond the Bars.” – Kutcha Edwards, local singer/songwriter and one of the founders of the Beyond the Bars project

This week is NAIDOC Week and there are plenty of celebrations happening across Australia. Click here to see what’s on near you.

Here in Victoria tune into 3CR community radio from today until Friday 6 July to hear Australia’s only live prison broadcast – Beyond the Bars. You’ll hear Indigenous prisoners sharing their stories, songs, opinions and poems live from six Victorian prisons.

The broadcast is simulcast on 3KnD 1503AM and if you’re not in Victoria you can also tune in through 3CR Digital and streaming online.

NAIDOC celebrations are held around Australia in July each year to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC Week 2012 is from 1 to 8 July.

Beyond the Bars is funded by Victoria Law Foundation, Community Broadcasting Foundation, the City of Melbourne, and Corrections Victoria, Department of Justice.

Looking for funding for your own legal project?
Each year, we fund projects about the law that benefit Victorians. Your project could be one of them. Applications for our next round of general grants close 12 September 2012. Small grants are available year round, if your project budget is less than $5000.

Contact our Grants and Awards Manager on 03 9604 8100 to talk about your project or idea, and to find out more about the support we offer to grant applicants. Or read about other general grants awarded by the Foundation.

What’s the real cost of your debt?

Image: Martin Kinglsey

We all know how quickly bills can pile up and, when times are tough, it can be tempting to ignore overdue notices and demands from creditors. But even small debts can lead to serious long-term repercussions, particularly if your case is one of the thousands that incur a default judgment in the Magistrates’ Court each year.

In 2005/06, the Department of Justice reported that more than 30,000 complaints for civil consumer debt matters found their way to the Magistrates Court – 84% of these cases were for claims of less than $10,000 and 23% were for less than $1000. Most were decided by default judgment, with often disastrous implications.

In May, we gave the Consumer Action Law Centre a general grant of $33,523 to research default debt judgments in Victoria to understand why thousands of Victorians fail to seek legal help in relation to relatively small debt claims.

Consumer Action Law Centre provides free legal advice and representation to vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers across Victoria and is the largest specialist consumer legal practice in Australia.

Gerard Brody, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the Consumer Action Law Centre, tells us about the project and how it will help improve the lives of Victorians.  

Tens of thousands of Victorians incur default judgment in the Magistrates’ Court each year. In fact, court statistics show that up to 98 per cent of civil complaints in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria end in default judgment.

A default judgment occurs when a demand for money is made through the court, and a consumer does not defend the matter. This means a judgment is made without any independent checking of the claim – and without any consideration of a person’s personal situation. Many default judgments are sought by large financial services companies, councils and debt collection agencies. Continue reading

Thinking of applying for our next general grants round?

You’ve got until 12 September to get your application to our Grants and Awards Manager Erin Dolan. We know September seems like a long time away, but don’t push this task to the bottom of your ‘to do’ list just yet. You’ve got some work to do if you really want your grant application and your project to be successful.

To get you started, we asked Erin to share five tips for applying for a Foundation grant. In the coming weeks, we’ll also be featuring stories from some successful grant applicants. This is a great way to get a feel for the kinds of projects we fund and why – so subscribe to our blog to make sure you don’t miss out or email us at contact@victorialawfoundation.org.au (put Subscribe for grants news in the subject line) and we’ll add you to our email list.

Erin’s tips for applying for a Foundation grant

“We want to give grant projects the best possible chance for success so we take the time to work with grant applicants, giving them access to all of the advice, expertise and resources that the Foundation has to offer,” says Erin.

“So if you’re thinking of applying, here are five tips to get you started:

  1. Speak to me at least six weeks before you submit – we are a friendly bunch here at the Foundation and may be able to help you with your application. We’re likely to ask you to come in for a meeting and may invite someone from our education or publications team as well.
  2. Read our guiding principles and our strategic priorities – these are only a guide, but you’ll be able to see the kinds of projects we like to fund.
  3. Make sure it’s a legal project – speak to me before you start writing your application to ensure your project is eligible.
  4. Focus on the impact of your project on the lives of Victorians – we want the projects we fund to make a difference so make sure your project has a practical application and there’s a demonstrated need in the community.
  5. Be realistic – about what you can achieve, what resources you need and how long it will take to get the best possible outcome from our projects.”

And remember, we offer two types of grants: small grants for projects up to $5000, and general grants for larger projects (typically between $20,000 and $50,000 but your application should be driven by your project needs).