Leading pro bono organisations in Victoria and NSW have joined forces to create Australia’s biggest agency connecting more than 10,000 lawyers and barristers prepared to offer free legal service to not-for-profit organisations, individuals and cases that would otherwise go without.
Justice Connect is the new organisation which takes the place of PILCH Victoria and PILCH NSW. It is being celebrated in Sydney today on the roof top of law firm supporter Henry Davis York (midday).
Guests include the NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith, Director of the Law and Justice Foundation NSW Geoff Mulherin and Human Rights Commission President Professor Gillian Triggs, plus representation from leading law firms and human rights champions; many have been part of significant cases that have changed the course of legal history – including the Tampa, the Stolen Wages case, exploitation of international workers on 457 visas, asylum seekers and refugee policy challenges and the Gunns 20.
Early referrals to NSW law firms and barristers included a case of representing 48 Cambodian boat people and legal advice to a group working to support cult victims, former wards of the State, Chronic Fatigue sufferers, adults and children with disabilities and homeless women and their children.
“We honour our history,” said Fiona McLeay, Chief Executive Officer of Justice Connect. “It is a proud roll call of just causes, of bringing together the resources of the legal profession to serve people experiencing disadvantage and the community organisations that support them
“If not for PILCH in NSW and Victoria connecting these people and organisations with legal resources, they would not have had a voice. As Justice Connect, we are looking forward to seeing the spirit of pro bono thrive, where we can better connect resources and expertise across two states,” she said.
Justice Connect provides the central point for the 10,000 or so lawyers and barristers drawn from individual practices and around 50 law firms to link with causes and people who need them.
“Now more than ever we need Justice Connect to act as the lightning rod for those in the profession committed to pro bono – from the largest firms through to the smallest practices and individual barristers. We play a critical role in marshalling the resources of the legal profession to serve the homeless, the elderly, the socially and economically disadvantaged and the charitable and not-for-profit community organisations that support them
A special video featuring a number of people who have worked alongside, and supported Justice Connect (PILCH NSW & Victoria), will be shown. It includes Professor Triggs, Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC, former High Court Judge Michael Kirby AO CMG, Julian Burnside AM QC, Edward Santow (CEO PIAC), Professor Peter Cashman and Professor Andrea Durbach (Director, UNSW Australian Human Rights Centre).
The new Justice Connect website, which replaces the two previous PILCH websites, is now live: www.justiceconnect.org.a