PIAC wins national youth legal award

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) won a prestigious 2012 Children’s Law Award. Sharing the award with partners Legal Aid NSW, Maurice Blackburn and PILCH NSW, PIAC’s work was recognised for outstanding legal representation of the rights and interests of children and young people.

The National Children’s and Youth Law Centre presented the award to PIAC at an event hosted by King & Wood Mallesons in Melbourne.

The award recognises PIAC’s crucial work in instigating and managing the Children in Detention Advocacy Project, and its on-going class action on behalf of young people unlawfully detained by NSW police on the basis of out-of-date bail information.

PIAC chief executive, Edward Santow, said he was honoured to receive this award on behalf of PIAC and its project partners.

‘The award recognises a wonderful collaboration that also includes a number of commercial law firms, such as Allens, Lander & Rogers and Carroll & O’Dea. All have worked tirelessly to seek redress for the unlawful detention of children and young people.’

The award made special mention of a class action run by PIAC and law firm Maurice Blackburn, on behalf of Musa Konneh (pictured) and other young people who claim to have been wrongly arrested and detained.

The class action’s lead applicant, Mr Konneh, was arrested and detained in southwest Sydney in August 2010.

However, the police relied on incorrect bail information. When this was brought to the attention of the court, Mr Konneh was immediately released.

Mr Santow said Mr Konneh’s experience is all too common.

‘This problem began under the previous NSW Government and continues under the current Government. It has led to the unlawful detention of far too many children and young people, with devastating consequences.

‘It is fundamental to our justice system that the police rely on accurate information. But the police computer system has been unreliable for some time and vulnerable young people are paying the price,’ Mr Santow said.

The 2012 Children’s Law Awards is a biennial event which recognises the outstanding achievements and commitment of those individuals and organisations who advance the legal rights and interests of children and young people across Australia.

Pictured, from left, are Edward Santow; Annmarie Lumsden (Legal Aid NSW); Ben Slade (Maurice Blackburn); Katrina Ironside (PILCH NSW) and Matthew Keeley (Director, NCYLC).


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