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Human Rights Award for Redfern Legal Centre

The Redfern Legal Centre has won the 2007 Human Rights Award, presented by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission reports Reem Al-Gharabally in the South Sydney Herald of February 2008.

Established in 1977, the Redfern Legal Centre is a non-profit community centre in Redfern that provides free legal advice and service to disadvantaged people and the groups that advocate for them. Operating on a very limited budget, the centre relies heavily on volunteer labour and pro-bono assistance from legal professionals.

“Winning the award is nice but really we would do the work anyway. The award is more about raising the profile of the centre in the community more generally and validating the work we’ve done,” says Elizabeth Morley, Redfern Legal Centre’s principal solicitor.

Much of the centre’s activities are concerned with domestic violence, disability discrimination, racial discrimination and Indigenous issues.

The centre co-ordinates the Redfern Women’s Violence Court Assistance Scheme which has been recognised as an innovative and successful program to help women seeking a restraining order to have access to legal and support services.

“Our clients are wonderful. In the face of great disadvantage and great trauma they fnd time to smile, they have time to laugh and they are resilient,” Ms Morley says.

In February this year, in participation with Mudgin-gal Aboriginal Women’s Corporation, the centre will run an information session on the Queensland Redress Scheme which provides compensation to people who experienced abuse and neglect as children in Queensland institutions.

Ms Morley emphasises the centre’s aim is to help people help themselves: “We can continue placing Band-Aids on individuals but that doesn’t do anything to prevent people needing Band-Aids. We always try and balance our resources, firstly by not duplicating mainstream services but applying some Band-Aids, providing some information to the community so that they can avoid needing the Band-Aids and changing the system in order to prevent the injuries that will need the Band-Aids.

“What we would like to do ultimately is to work ourselves out of a job, to have a well-functioning legal system to which all members of the community have access, and a fair and just society that will make us completely unnecessary. That is probably a long way off and we will continue working in the meantime,” Ms Morley says.       SO

Source: South Sydney Herald February 2008 - www.southsydneyherald.com.au

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