One of Sydney’s best known drop-in centres for the homeless, the Wayside Chapel at Kings Cross, is now opening its doors to lawyers every Monday morning as part of the latest legal clinic run by the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service (HPLS).
This is the ninth free legal clinic established by the HPLS. It will be officially launched at the Wayside Chapel on Monday 25 February by the NSW Attorney General, the Hon John Hatzistergos MLC, at 12:30 pm.
The Homeless Persons’ Legal Service is a joint initiative of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH). It is supported by the Public Purpose Fund. The lawyers providing services at Wayside Chapel are from Deacons law firm.
Elisabeth Baraka, Co-ordinator of the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service, said, ‘The HPLS is thrilled to be in partnership with the Wayside Chapel, which has such a strong reputation in helping the disadvantaged. The launch of the clinic is also timely because there has been an increased focus on homelessness, particularly at the federal government level.’
‘The Homeless Persons’ Legal Service started in May 2004 and now has nine clinics across Sydney. In that time, over 1,800 homeless people have received free legal advice. By providing legal assistance in a way that is easy to access, we aim to prevent legal issues from being the reason that people become homeless or stay homeless,’ Ms Baraka added.
Deacons lawyer Susanna Taylor said the experience of volunteering at the clinic is rewarding, particularly because she has the opportunity to help people who might otherwise have difficulty accessing legal services. ‘We encounter legal problems that we would not usually see in our ordinary practice. We can also help clients in a tangible way, even if it is only to assist with filling in an application form for accommodation or to help in a victim’s compensation claim,’ said Susanna.
Becoming involved in the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service is part of Deacons’ longstanding commitment to pro bono work and is the major pro bono initiative for the Sydney office of the firm this year. ‘Last year, more than 50 Deacons partners and 200 staff played an active role in pro bono work in the
community’, said Nick Abrahams, Sydney Chairman, Deacons.
The new clinic is also dependent on the valuable co-operation and support given by Wayside Chapel staff and volunteers. Because of this partnership homeless people can now have their legal needs met at the
same time as seeking help with housing, food, counselling and friendship.
The Wayside Chapel is at 29 Hughes Street, Potts Point and the launch will be at 12:30 pm. Interview, photo and video opportunities are available.
MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,
Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169