Press Releases

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

END

21 February 2018

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

 

Read More

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.

 

END

 

13 December 2017

CONTACT:

Siobhan Kenny

Communications Officer

PENINSULA COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC.

 

Read More

‘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.

END.

19 December 2016

CONTACT:

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

Read More

Media Release

Peninsula Community Legal Centre has joined worldwide celebrations of International Women’s Day, by signing a statement of its intention to commit to creating a community that is safe and accessible for women and their children.

Donned in white, purple and green, the centre’s predominantly female staff took a break from their day to meet in the boardroom for an inspiring lunch and to witness the Centre’s signing of The Peninsula Model’s ‘Creating Safety, Equality and Respect in our Community: a Catchment Wide Strategy to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children’.[1]

John Baker, Prevention & Community Engagement Coordinator, Frankston / Mornington Peninsula Primary Care Partnership, says:

“The Peninsula Model is part of the Frankston & Mornington Peninsula Primary Care Partnership. This is a catchment-based partnership between a range of health and community service organisations, key stakeholders, consumers, carers and communities throughout Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula. The partnership is working on addressing gender equity and the prevention of violence against women and their children at the policy and practice level within organisations.”

Its strategy includes the vision “For women and their children to live free from violence; feel safe and respected, valued and heard in their relationships, workplaces and within the community. We strive for every woman, man and child in the Frankston Mornington Peninsula catchment to have equal access to opportunities that enable them to reach their potential and participate fully in the social, economic and cultural aspects of their lives.”[2]

Jackie Galloway, Chief Executive Officer of Peninsula Community Legal Centre, said:

“International Women’s Day should be celebrated. It is important that women are recognised for their achievements since the turn of the twentieth century. With a large proportion of the Centre’s workforce (76%) being women and 60 percent of our clients in the last financial year being female, we are delighted to be acknowledging this day together as a team.”

“We know that by taking part in International Women’s Day, we will be contributing to the international effort to raise awareness that the social injustices women face in so many countries is a global human rights issue. A day like this forces modern society to talk about the prejudices and inequality which still exist in the 21st century,” she adds.

“Violence against women and girls remains one of the most prevalent violations of human rights”, she said. “Last year, more than a quarter of our clients reported family violence. We helped many women by providing free legal advice and assistance, including duty lawyer services at the Frankston Magistrates’ Court and Dandenong Family Law Courts. We have recently welcomed interim additional funding for 2016-17 from the Victorian Government, which is enhancing our ability to provide legal help to people dealing with family violence. Our Centre is also provides community legal education about family violence and actively supports local family violence networks and partnerships.”

Peninsula Community Legal Centre is a not-for-profit organisation that provides free advice on many legal issues, with ongoing assistance available for clients experiencing disadvantage. In addition to its family violence services and general legal services, the centre also operates specialist programs in family law, child support, tenant and consumer advocacy and rooming house outreach, which also frequently assist clients experiencing family violence. For more information about free legal services, please call (03) 9783 3600 or visit www.pclc.org.au.

END.

10 March 2016

CONTACT:

Saskia Rijfkogel, Education and Policy Lawyer

PENINSULA COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC.

[1] A copy of the full statement is available at http://www.peninsulamodel.org.au/sites/default/files/media/Final%20PDF%20single%20page%20copy%20of%20stratgey%20%283%29.pdf,p.5

[2] Ibid, p7.

Read More

Media Release

Staff and volunteers of Peninsula Community Legal Centre today welcomed the announcement of additional funding under a Federal Labor government, during a visit by the Honourable Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Australian Shadow Attorney-General and Shadow Minister for the Arts, Member for Isaacs; and Labor Candidate for Dunkley, Peta Murphy.

Chief Executive Officer, Jackie Galloway, said:

“We are facing a crisis in access to justice, with so many people unable to afford lawyers but ineligible for legal aid. Community legal centres are vital in helping those people who would otherwise ‘fall through the cracks’. Each year, Peninsula Community Legal Centre helps thousands of such people. Three quarters of our clients earn less than $26,000 gross per year, and more than a quarter report family violence. We commonly assist clients with family law matters, family violence, tenancy, fines, motor vehicle accidents and neighbour problems.

Despite the evidence that community legal centres are effective, efficient and innovative in addressing the legal needs of vulnerable people, and a recommendation of the Productivity Commission in 2014 to urgently increase funding, the Federal Government is persisting with plans to drop funding by 30 percent nationally from 1 July 2017. Locally, that will mean Peninsula Community Legal Centre will lose workers and there will be an unavoidable reduction in free legal help provided to our community.

Today, Mr Dreyfus and Ms Murphy announced that Peninsula Community Legal Centre would receive an additional $450,000 over three years, as part of Labor’s $43 million package for frontline legal services that help family violence survivors. The announcement gives us hope that we may be able to expand and strengthen our free legal services to better meet the legal needs of local people experiencing family violence into the future. ”

Peninsula Community Legal Centre has been providing free legal services since 1977. It operates from offices in Frankston, Bentleigh, Cranbourne, Rosebud and Frankston North and regularly visits Hastings, Mornington 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 consumer, tenant and rooming house issues.

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

ND.

16 June 2016

CONTACT:

Andrea Staunton

Manager, Volunteers & Education

PENINSULA COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC.

 

 

Read More