Access to Justice – Response to Taskforce Report

The Australian Government’s Attorney General, The Hon. Robert McClelland MP, established a taskforce to undertake a review of the federal civil justice system, with a view to developing a more strategic approach to access to justice issues and, on 23 September 2009, released the report of the Access to Justice Taskforce, ‘A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System’ for public comment.

Peninsula CLC made a submission broadly accepting the terms and recommendations of the Taskforce Report and welcoming the acceptance of a more strategic, system wide approach to access to justice. However, PCLC’s Response also noted that significant improvements in the manner of engagement of individuals with the legal system and in their use of the legal system will be required to increase and improve access to justice. The taskforce report demonstrates that is the most marginalised members of our community that are most overlooked in the justice system – children, indigenous people, people suffering from mental illness.

The taskforce report also endorsed CLC’s as being cost effective and facilitating access to justice for significant numbers of people whilst recognising that CLC’s are significantly underfunded. PCLC submitted that: ‘CLC’s are experts in community law and are accessible to people with complex and disadvantaged needs. They understand the issues and barriers facing these people and provide advice to people often disregarded or disadvantaged by the legal system – homeless; young people; people with a disability or mental illness; people held in detention; victims of family violence’. Without adequate recurrent funding of CLC’s the goals of the report and access to justice for all Australians cannot be achieved.

For more information, or to request a copy of PCLC’s submission, please contact the Centre on (03) 9783 3600 or .


Peninsula CLC made a submission to the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee expressing concern at the introduction of the Summary Offences and Control of Weapons Acts Amendment Bill 2009 into the Victorian Parliament, which would give police power to ‘move on’ people and conduct random strip searches in designated areas. We understand that the Victorian Government intends to proceed with the legislation, notwithstanding its incompatibility with the Victorian Charter of Rights. PCLC recommended that the Bill not be passed in its current form, and that a consultative process be established to consider how to address violence concerns whilst at the same time protecting fundamental human rights.

For more information, or to request a copy of PCLC’s submission, please contact the Centre on (03) 9783 3600 or

Response to Article ‘Cash-Strapped Suburb of Debt’ Frankston Standard / Hastings Leader, 14 September 2009

Responsible lending is the key to lessening financial distress, says Peninsula Community Legal Centre, an organisation that provides free legal services in Melbourne’s outer south eastern suburbs and adjoining rural areas.

Chief Executive Officer, Helen Constas, says:

“We are concerned to hear that, as a result of Dun & Bradstreet’s recent geographic consumer credit risk study, suburbs such as Frankston North are being labelled as “high risk” for loan defaults.

In any one geographical area, potential borrowers and borrowers have a multitude of varying circumstances. Appropriate lending based on assets, liabilities and capacity to re-pay are the only genuine indicators that lenders should consider in determining whether or not a loan should be offered. We hope that geography won’t become a lending criterion in the future.

As an organisation assisting disadvantaged clients with a range of legal issues, including credit and debt, we commonly see the human – as well as economic – cost of unscrupulous lending practices.”

For more information about free legal services, please contact Peninsula Community Legal Centre on (03) 9783 3600 or visit


16 September 2009


Help for Caravan Pak & Rooming House Residents

Many people make a lifestyle choice to live in residential and caravan parks, they have considered their options and decided that this is the one which best suits their current situation. However, for an ever increasing number of people, caravan parks and rooming houses are the only option left for emergency and longer-term accommodation. Often community organisations and housing groups have little option but to place and fund people into this accommodation.

There is growing concern that people in this situation are often reluctant to exercise their rights as residents. This is because many are afraid that they will jeopardise their final housing option and risk becoming homeless.

The Peninsula Community Legal Centre (PCLC) Caravan Park & Rooming House Outreach Project is based in Frankston, but operates across most of the eastern and southern metropolitan regions of Melbourne. The Project aims to assist residents of caravan parks, residential parks, rooming houses and student rooming houses in their negotiations with owners and operators, by informing them about their rights and responsibilities, and about services available to assist them and of how to access these.

The Project is also playing an important role in bringing together knowledge about the experiences of people living in caravan parks and rooming houses and the issues confronting them.

“The PCLC Caravan Park & Rooming House Outreach Project is aiming to contribute to the knowledge and debate which will help to inform good social policy and appropriate regulatory frameworks. Ultimately, we all want to ensure that caravan parks and rooming houses are a safe housing option and the rights of residents are protected” said Ms Constas.

For more information about the PCLC Caravan Park & Rooming House Outreach Project and other services, please phone 9783 3600 or check PCLC’s website .

2 September 2009

Contact: Gillian Wilks Manager – Projects & Development Peninsula Community Legal Centre Inc. Ph: 9783 3600 ext 28.