PCLC has partnered with Whitelion and Social Engine in an exciting new project, the Street Law Coffee Van, the first of its kind in Victoria.
Equal justice before the law is a familiar phrase, but equal justice requires equal access. For those who are geographically or socially isolated or who don’t have the time or money to see a lawyer, the inability to access legal advice can be a barrier to obtaining equal justice.
Our innovative Street Law Coffee Van is working to close this justice gap by bringing the law to the people in local communities that have historically been underserved. Our team will actively seek out people who may need legal support.
Hard-to-reach populations who might not be able to access our offices or who may not even be aware that some of their everyday problems have a legal solution can meet with our Street Law team at convenient community-based locations that they know and trust. Over a free cup of coffee they can have a legal health check to uncover hidden legal issues and receive advice on how to deal with them.
What makes this program unique is that it combines free legal and youth services in the one integrated mobile service. In addition to PCLC’s legal team, the coffee van is staffed by Social Engine’s youth worker and an at-risk young person who will gain training and work experience as a barista.
What is also new about the project is that the van visits a mix of public places as well as more traditional fixed locations for community outreach services. Rather than sitting in an office like traditional lawyers, our team goes out on to the streets to engage with people. And as it is mobile, the van can also change where our legal services are provided depending on community need. The Street Law team visits shopping centres, sporting events and markets, as well as schools, health centres, homeless services, community kitchens, emergency food relief programs, Centrelink offices and drug and alcohol treatment centres.
The project offers free legal advice on most legal matters, including landlord-tenant issues, fines and infringement debt, family law and family violence, criminal law, and other general law issues. It also provides on-going representation in some circumstances. If we think a client might be better served by an outside resource, we’ll refer them to another community legal centre or Victoria Legal Aid, or to appropriate non-legal support organisations.
In addition to providing barista training to at-risk young people who staff the coffee van, the youth worker can also assist young people who approach the van in need of support with referrals to Whitelion and other youth services.
The Street Law Coffee Van – which is a bold, eye-catching blue – is on the road two to three days a week. No appointments are necessary.
This project is supported by Gandel Philanthropy and The Jack Brockhoff Foundation.