Press Releases

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a number of urgent housing and homelessness challenges, which the Peninsula Community Legal Centre has been working hard to address.  “Homelessness Week highlights that everyone needs safe accommodation, including people who are sleeping rough, living in over-crowded conditions such as rooming houses, or otherwise needing to self-isolate but without means to do so” said Jackie Galloway, the CEO.

The Centre, which has branches at Rosebud, Frankston, Bentleigh and Cranbourne, has a specialist tenancy team which has been helping people to maintain their tenancies during the COVID-19 crisis so that they do not end up on the streets despite losing their income.

“We’ve been fielding a large number of enquiries from tenants about their rights under the COVID-19 emergency laws,’ said Ms Galloway. “This is not surprising, given that a third of Victorians rent and so many people have lost their jobs”.

The emergency tenancy laws in Victoria acknowledge that many people are in financial distress and make it illegal to evict people as a result of hardship due to COVID-19. They establish a scheme to enable people to negotiate rent reductions until the end of September. PCLC has joined other organisations across Victoria calling for the emergency laws to be extended.

“Our team has assisted many clients in negotiating rent reduction agreements with their landlords over the past few months,” said Sokha Um, the head of PCLC’s tenancy team. “Sometimes tenants have asked for a rent reduction but have been refused. Other tenants struggling to pay their rent have been threatened by landlords to put their names on a tenancy database or ‘blacklist’, which is not allowed during the emergency period.”

The Centre has also seen a spike in the number of people who have been sleeping rough or who need emergency food assistance during COVID-19. Centre staff have been going out to rooming houses delivering care packages and onto the street to provide legal assistance.

Their Street Law Coffee Van, which is run in partnership with Social Engine, has been visiting venues such as the SPLaSh laundry and showers on the Rosebud foreshore and the food distribution point at the Dromana community house. Over a free cup of coffee, people can have a chat with a lawyer and a community engagement officer to receive legal advice and support with their related problems.

The Street Law van and the hot barista coffee are a welcome sight for people who are sleeping rough on the foreshore, especially during the colder months.

Anyone needing free legal advice on tenancy or other general legal issues, or to find out about the Street Law Coffee van schedule, can contact the Peninsula Community Legal Centre on 9783 3600. The Centre continues to provide legal advice over the telephone throughout the lockdown.

DATE: 31 July 2020
CONTACT: Kirsten Young, Community Engagement Officer – Peninsula Community Legal Centre Inc.
kyoung@pclc.org.au

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Fines have been receiving a lot of media attention in recent weeks.

Under a new Fines Victoria social justice initiative called the Work and Development Permit (WDP) Scheme, health practitioners and organisations are helping vulnerable community members ‘work off’ their unpaid fines by becoming ‘sponsors’ and reporting client participation in treatment, courses and other activities.

This WDP Scheme is one of the first of its kind in the world.  Peninsula Community Legal Centre (PCLC) has already assisted many psychologists and not-for-profit organisations get on-board.

PCLC’s infringements clients have an average of over $12,000 in unpaid fines debt. With unpaid fines becoming an increasing problem in the community, PCLC is calling on more health practitioners and organisations to become sponsors.

‘Becoming a sponsor is particularly important given the devastating psychological and financial toll COVID-19 is having on many people’s lives and the substantial financial and emotional costs associated with receiving fines.’ said Jackie Galloway, CEO at PCLC.

‘For most, unpaid fines are an inconvenience but for those eligible for this Scheme the impact is devastating’, she said.

‘Clients can stop opening their letters as their debt escalates and their mental health and addiction issues can spiral downwards,’ said Laura Sanderson, WDP Project Worker at PCLC.

‘We’ve seen clients work off their fines by engaging in activities that range from getting mental health treatment, studying for the first time at a community college, volunteering at their local church and getting support for their drug and alcohol problems.  Participation in the WDP Scheme is often life-changing for our clients.’

‘For sponsors, the WDP Scheme involves a simple, three-step process where the sponsor gets accredited by Fines Victoria, applies for a WDP on behalf of the client and then reports participation.  This is all done using the Fines Victoria WDP portal,’ she said.

‘Sponsors must meet certain recording keeping obligations but sponsors have assured PCLC that the application process takes no more than 5 minutes and the reporting process takes no more than 2 minutes per client,’ stated Laura.

The equivalent program in NSW recently won a 2019 Premiers Award in the category of ‘tackling longstanding social challenges’.

Jackie Galloway praised the WDP Scheme as ‘a more financially viable option than pouring government resources into failed attempts at collecting debt from people with no assets or financial stability.’

‘The WDP Scheme is an engagement incentive and referral pathway for sponsors and a therapeutic mechanism used to reduce reoffending behaviour and empower vulnerable people,’ she said.

More than $5,000,000 worth of fines has been loaded onto the WDP Scheme since it first began in mid-2017.

PCLC has received funding from the Legal Services Board to employ a Project Worker who has been helping health practitioners and sponsors understand and integrate with the WDP Scheme.

For health practitioners and organisations interested in knowing more, please contact us on pclc@pclc.org.au.

PCLC is a not-for-profit organisation that provides free legal assistance to those most vulnerable within Melbourne’s southern region.

 

DATE: 21st May 2020

 

CONTACT: Nicola Barrans, Senior Manager – Development & Engagement  e:  nbarrans@pclc.org.au

PENINSULA COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC.

 

 

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Elder abuse can be very complex; without adequate education of what constitutes this form of abuse, the perpetrator may be unaware their actions are abusive.

Senior Rights Victoria’s help line data for the past two years points to the fact that 90% of alleged perpetrators of elder abuse were related to the older person; often an adult son or daughter, or estranged ex-partner. Part of the reason this form of abuse is under reported is the disbelief that a family member could behave in such a predatory way. The difficulty of raising the issue with the family member, let alone instigating legal action is in many cases too much to bear.

One of the possible reasons elder abuse is becoming more common is that we live in a technology focused society that sometime alienates the older generations and enables the younger generations to have the upper-hand.

In this environment, older people can be treated with contempt and seen as a ‘waste of space’;  yet the vast majority of seniors have paid their taxes over many years and contributed much to the lives of their children.  Ageing and the resulting deterioration in health is natural and we should value and look after our seniors.

PCLC recognizes that elder abuse is a form of family violence, and that the behavior of perpetrators and the safety of victims can be similar to intimate partner violence.

However, while elder abuse is a form of family violence and faces some of the same barriers to prevention; the risk factors, relationship dynamics and outcomes are unique. The majority of elder abuse victims are women, often from CALD backgrounds, although it is important to note the victims are sometimes male with female perpetrators.

The particular nature of the parent-child relationship and how it is affected by external pressure due to family conflict; the rising cost of living, the care needs of the parent, mental and physical issues of the child, can influence elder abuse. A history of family conflict/violence can also affect the parent-child relationship.” says Kate Ross, Director of Legal Services.

We provide free advice and employ a sensitive, respectful and understanding approach combined with expert legal advice.  PCLC has expertise in a variety of areas of law with specialist services in family law/ family violence, fines and tenancy issues. We offer day and evening appointments at our Frankston, Bentleigh, Cranbourne and Rosebud offices. We are one of the largest community based legal centres in Australia.

For more information about free legal services, please call (03) 9783 3600 or visit www.pclc.org.au.

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20/06/2019

contact:  Siobhan Kenny, Communications Officer

PNINSULA COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC.

 

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PCLC celebrated the work of our vital volunteers and supporters recently at our annual Volunteer & Supporters Appreciation Dinner. Claire Williams was the recipient of our esteemed Kath Neilsen Award for outstanding contribution to the Centre.

The Award was created in honour of Kath Neilsen, a founder and long-term supporter of the Centre. It acknowledges a volunteer who has demonstrated a superior understanding of the Centre’s values and the principals of social justice; along with a reliable and respectful approach to interactions with our clients.

Claire was previously an employee of the Centre for six years and has since remained a dedicated volunteer. Claire explains, ‘I found my feet as a lawyer while working at PCLC. The great staff, plus a sense of belonging to a team that are working to end family violence, made the job very rewarding’.

To support herself through university Claire worked with people with a disability as a part-time job and gained a life long understanding of the difficulties faced by those with special needs. After leaving PCLC, Claire had a stint in a policy role with government and then started her own practice in Frankston – Justice Crew Legal Services.

Claire’s practice focusses on facilitating a low-stress journey through the legal system for her clients. As Claire explains, she is passionate about helping guide people with mental, physical and intellectual disabilities through the legal process. This can involve many hours acting as a go-between; connecting clients with support services such as psychologists and family violence workers.

Claire, along with our other 120 volunteers, make a world of difference to our Centre’s reach by enabling the Centre to run seven additional free legal advice sessions each week; including day-time and after hours advice in five locations through the South-East region.

‘After 40 years service to the community, the work we do ensuring access to justice for vulnerable communities, is as important today as ever. We are increasingly facing an environment where people’s human rights are being eroded and there are more and more vulnerable members of our community slipping through the safety net.’ explains Jackie Galloway PCLC’s CEO.

PCLC specializes in family law and family violence, fines and tenancy issues. We have offices in Frankston, Bentleigh East, Cranbourne, Rosebud and Frankston North. We are one of the largest community based legal centres in Australia. Lawyers at the Centre also provide outreach services to Chelsea, Hastings, Pakenham, Clyde North, Dandenong, Clayton South, Glen Huntly and St Kilda.

For more information about free legal services, please call (03) 9783 3600 or visit www.pclc.org.au.

Date 30/05/2019

CONTACT:  Siobhan Kenny, Communications Officer

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Do you know what to look out for in aged care and retirement village contracts? Do you know about recent changes in the law about medical decision-making in Victoria? If your answer is no, come and learn from the experts!

 Peninsula Community Legal Centre (PCLC) is pleased to announce that the Centre will be hosting a FREE forum for seniors month together with Seniors Rights Victoria and Peninsula Advisory Committee for Elders. The event is proudly sponsored by the Mornington Peninsula Shire.

The forum will address some of the most important issues people are faced with during their lifetime – planning for their retirement and decision-making as they age. Seniors are invited to attend the forum to learn about some of the most common legal issues affecting older people from experts in the field.

The keynote speaker, John Corcoran AM, is a Principal and former Chairman of Russell Kennedy Lawyers, a prominent Australian law firm which advises leading providers of aged care and retirement living. John’s talk will give seniors a better understanding of retirement village and aged care living and the contracts offered. Speakers from PCLC and Seniors Rights Victoria will talk about elder abuse, an issue that has recently received attention with the announcement of a Royal Commission into elder abuse and media revelations about poor standards of care in some aged-care facilities, as well as recent changes to medical decision-making laws in Victoria. The changes in the law have introduced the ability to appoint a medical treatment decision-maker and to make advanced care directives that are legally binding.

PCLC encourages seniors who want to learn more about the tips and traps of proper planning for their retirement and decision-making as they age to attend this forum. There will be a chance to ask questions in a Q & A session with the panel of experts.

The Legal Matters and Ageing Forum will be held at the Safety Beach Community Centre, 185 Marine Drive Safety Beach on Tuesday 16 October 2018 from 10.30am – 1:00pm. Morning tea will be provided. The forum is free, but bookings are essential.

PCLC is a not for profit organisation that provides free advice on most legal issues, with ongoing assistance available for clients experiencing disadvantage. The Centre’s head office is in Frankston, with branches in Bentleigh, Cranbourne, Frankston North and Rosebud, as well as visiting services in Chelsea and Hastings.

Seniors Rights Victoria provides information on issues such as elder abuse and how to safeguard the rights, dignity and independence of older people. If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, please contact their free confidential Helpline: 1300 368 821

To register for the forum, go to https://pclclegalmattersforum.eventbrite.com.au,

or call Peninsula Community Legal Centre on (03) 9783 3600, email pclc@pclc.org.au, or visit www.pclc.org.au.

 

26 September 2018

CONTACT:

Kirsten Young

Community Engagement Officer

PENINSULA COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC.

 

 

 

 

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Acknowledgements were underway on Wednesday night at Functions on the Bay as Peninsula Community Legal Centre (PCLC) celebrated the work of their vital volunteers as part of National Volunteer Week 2018.

Various awards were given out with Moreheads Lawyers taking out the Law Firm Award. Founder and Principal, Michael Morehead is a long term volunteer at PCLC and Moreheads Lawyers offer a fee-reduced service to some of the Centre’s clients.

PCLC specialise in family law/violence, fines and tenancy issues; with offices in Frankston, Bentleigh, Cranbourne, Rosebud and Frankston North we are one of the largest community based legal centres in Australia. Lawyers at the Centre also provide outreach services to Hastings and Chelsea.

PCLC encourages volunteering as it enables our vital services to achieve greater reach. This year’s theme for National Volunteer Week, “Give a little, change a lot”, encapsulates the experience of volunteering for PCLC: it gives people a unique chance to be part of a highly motivated team of professionals. Our volunteers gain a sense of satisfaction from giving their time and expertise to something that benefits society without receiving monetary reward.

Volunteering Australia, CEO Adrienne Picone said, “One in three Australians volunteer in formal settings through organisations and institutions. This figure does not account for the millions of other Australians who informally give their time to volunteer through other activities and initiatives.”1

For more information about volunteering with PCLC, please call (03) 9783 3600 or visit www.pclc.org.au.

 

25 May 2018

 

CONTACT:

Siobhan Kenny

Communications Officer

PENINSULA COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC.

  1. https://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/give-a-little-change-a-lot-by-volunteering-in-your-community
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Peninsula Community Legal Centre (PCLC) has responded to a recent report on the legal needs of the South East Metro Region, identifying Pakenham and Narre Warren as high need areas with a high proportion of rental properties.

To address these needs, PCLC operates the Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program (The Program).  The Program, supported by the Victorian Government, provides free residential tenancy advice, assistance and VCAT representation to eligible tenants who are financially disadvantaged and/or experiencing family violence in the Southern region.

The Director of Legal Services at the Centre, Kate Ross, said eviction notices and bond/compensation claims (by landlords and tenants), made up the majority of matters assisted by PCLC during the last six months. Assistance was also provided in a number of urgent/non-urgent repair matters and lease breaking due to family violence.

An ongoing problem is some private tenants and those living in caravan parks and rooming houses, don’t always understand their rights and responsibilities. As Ms Ross says “There are strict limits on rental bonds and any claims by landlords must be lodged with the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) within 10 business days of the tenant vacating”. The problem is often matters end up at VCAT unchallenged because the tenant is too busy securing tenancy (in a difficult market), needs a good reference and is unaware a claim has been lodged against them.

Recently, the Centre has seen an increase in the number of excessive and unfair bond and compensation claims by landlords.  A good example is Vanessa. She is dependent on Parenting Payments along with casual employment. When she wanted to leave her rental property, her landlord wouldn’t return her bond. PCLC helped her lodge a claim for breach of duty by the landlord to provide a quiet and safe premise for her to live in. She was represented by the Centre at a VCAT hearing, where the matter was settled and Vanessa received her bond back in full. Without the assistance of the Centre, clients that are in vulnerable circumstances would have nowhere else to turn.

Without the Centre’s Program many people in difficult and extreme circumstances would be further disadvantaged and at risk of ending up homeless. Over 100,000 Australians are currently homeless with 17,845 being children under 12. The leading cause of homelessness is domestic and family violence*.

Our Tenant Advocates visit the Casey North Community Information & Support Service every Tuesday and the Pakenham Living & Learning Centre on Thursday. Appointments can be made by calling our central number 9783 3600.   We also operate an Intake Assessment Response (IAR), which has the ability to quickly respond to referrals or walk-ins.

Peninsula Community Legal Centre provides free legal services; operating since 1977 from offices in Frankston, Bentleigh, Cranbourne, Rosebud and Frankston North. Lawyers from the Centre also provide outreach services to Hastings and Chelsea. The Centre operates duty lawyer services at Dandenong Family Law Courts and Frankston Magistrates’ Court Family Violence Service. The Centre also helps with tenant and rooming house issues.

For more information about free legal services, please call (03) 9783 3600 or visit www.pclc.org.au.

*Source: Homelessness Australia

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21 February 2018

CONTACT:
Siobhan Kenny
Communications Officer
PENINSULA COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC.

 

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Peninsula Community Legal Centre received a visit from State Attorney-General Martin Pakula, State Member for Frankston, Paul Edbrooke and Member for Carrum, Sonia Kilkenny, last week to announce a funding boost for their Fines Clinic.

 The Centre’s Fines Clinic will receive $100,000 over 2 years as part of the Andrews Labor Government announcement of an extra $8.9 million dollar boost for Victorian community legal centres.

Mr Pakula said:

The Andrews Labor Government is making access to justice easier and fairer by supporting community legal centres across the state.

 I congratulate each of the recipients on their successful application and thank each of them for their hard work and dedication to the Victorian community.”

Peninsula Community Legal Centre have been running the Fines Clinic for 2 years helping many vulnerable and disadvantaged clients access legal help when faced with escalating fine debt. Nearly 30% of all toll fines occur in the Centre’s catchment area. The Centre has assisted with over 8 million dollars in fines, on average our clients are facing $20,000 in outstanding fines. Approximately half of the clients report having a disability and/or mental illness. This situation will often lead to clients attempting to navigate the system by themselves. Becoming overwhelmed with the systems complexity, the outstanding amount increases exponentially due to the disproportionate penalties that are incurred as a result of the non-payment, states Kate Ross, the Centre’s Director Legal Services.

Recently, Emily presented to the Centre with over $3,000 worth of toll fines.

While only 23 years old, she had a long history of abuse and neglect at the hands of her mother. She was also being bullied at her workplace to the point where she had to leave. Having no stable accommodation, Emily had been living with friends and acquaintances for quite sometime. She eventually realized she had some outstanding toll fines and became aware that the letters had been going to her mother’s house, who had not passed them on. She became very distressed and contacted Peninsula Community Legal Centre for advice. The lawyers at the Centre were able to have the fines revoked and enable Emily to focus on her pressing need for accommodation and employment.

Chief Executive Office, Jackie Galloway, said:

“This is just an example of the some of the impossible situations some of our clients face. I am incredibly proud of the lawyers involved in the Fines Clinic – through their dedication and knowledge we have helped many Victorians navigate this difficult and complex system. The recent announcement from the Attorney-General enables us to continue this necessary and vital work.”

 Peninsula Community Legal Centre provides free legal services; operating since 1977 from offices in Frankston, Bentleigh, Cranbourne, Rosebud and Frankston North. Lawyers from the Centre also provide outreach services to Hastings and Chelsea. The Centre operates duty lawyer services at Dandenong Family Law Courts and Frankston Magistrates’ Court Family Violence Service. The Centre also helps with tenant and rooming house issues.

For more information about free legal services, please call (03) 9783 3600 or visit www.pclc.org.au.

 

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13 December 2017

CONTACT:

Siobhan Kenny

Communications Officer

PENINSULA COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC.

 

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‘Global Applause: Give Volunteers a Hand’ was the theme of this year’s International Volunteer Day on December 5. Peninsula Community Legal Centre joined the celebrations, applauding its volunteers for their efforts to support the Centre’s free legal services and strengthen access to justice for the community.

Manager of Volunteers and Education, Andrea Staunton, says:

“We estimate that volunteers donated around 5,000 hours in the past year. In 2015-16, our volunteer lawyers provided 1,697 free legal advices to clients at our Frankston, Pines (Frankston North), Cranbourne, Rosebud and Bentleigh offices. Volunteers also provided paralegal support and undertook special projects, organisational governance, trainee and student placements.

We were pleased to acknowledge the outstanding work of our volunteers by presenting awards at our recent Annual General Meeting, with the sponsorship of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Frankston.

Our highest honour, the Kath Nielsen Memorial Award, was presented to lawyer volunteer, Victor Moss. The late Kath Nielsen was a founder and strong supporter of Peninsula Community Legal Centre. Victor Moss has been a lawyer volunteer with the Centre since 2009. Over the past seven years, he has provided 299 free legal advices to clients in a way that is thoughtful and practical, often taking on additional work on a pro bono basis. Victor has also demonstrated real caring and generosity towards fellow volunteers, last year organising and presenting a series of workshops for staff and volunteers to help them assist clients with criminal matters. We have the deepest regard for Victor and congratulate him on this well-deserved Award.”

Victor Moss, said he was “surprised, slightly embarrassed but above all honoured” to receive the Kath Neilson Memorial Award. He added:

“I have been volunteering for the past 9 years as I want to contribute to the Peninsula Community Legal Centre community. It is not done for reward or recognition. My focus is on assisting clients, so the award came as a complete surprise. It was slightly embarrassing to be the focus of attention when so many other people are also volunteering their skills and time. Above all it was an honour to be recognised as volunteer.”

Volunteer Encouragement Awards were given to ‘rising stars’, Patrick Smith, Emily McAlister, Jesse Williams, Damien Christmas, Tia Wishart and Lillian O’Connor, in recognition of their reliability, flexibility and dedication to the Centre.

We also honoured and thanked volunteers for their long service to the organisation: Bill Boucher, Ian Hone and Jonathan Sise for 10 years’ service, and Michael Denison for 35 years’ service.

For more information about free legal services, please call (03) 9783 3600 or visit www.pclc.org.au.

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19 December 2016

CONTACT:

Andrea Staunton, Manager, Volunteers & Education
PENINSULA COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC.

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