We're turning 40

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Marrickville Legal Centre acknowledges the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora nation as the traditional owners of the land upon which this event takes place. We recognise that sovereignty was never ceded, and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging.

Back in 1979 a small group of law students with a vision for better access to justice occupied a small room in the Marrickville Town Hall. Their aim was to provide free legal assistance to individuals in the local area, especially for the growing migrant community. Since then Marrickville Legal Centre has extended its reach beyond Marrickville and the Inner West, to Sydney's South West, Southern & Northern suburbs - a catchment that covers over 1.5 million people. Not to mention two state-wide legal services!

Marrickville Legal Centre is proud to present its 40th Anniversary Gala to celebrate 40 years of achievement for our local community with:

  • The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG

  • Eric Avery

  • Parliament on King

  • Dabke performance

  • And more to be announced!

Reserve your ticket for this Friday 23 August and rub shoulders with MLC's esteemed alumni, staff, members, volunteers, and friends as we celebrate the achievements of the Centre and individuals who paved the way for the community legal sector.

Join us for an evening that celebrates the legacy of Justice For Us All.

No person will be turned away for lack of funds.

For all enquiries please contact Maeve at mredmond@mlc.org.au.

Now hiring: Migrant Community Worker

Migrant Community Worker: Migrant Employment Service

Part-time (28 hours per week)

Marrickville Legal Centre (MLC) is searching for a migrant community worker who would like to join the team that will deliver an exciting new project providing employment legal advice and support to migrant communities in NSW.

 The Migrant Employment Service is a new project that will address the employment exploitation of migrant workers. It is a collaborative initiative of Marrickville, Kingsford, Redfern and Inner City Legal Centres, funded for three years by the NSW government. This position will be based at MLC’s Dulwich Hill office.

 This recruitment is for a part-time position for 12 months initially, with a possible extension to three years. The successful applicant will be required to engage with members of our culturally and linguistically diverse (‘CaLD’) communities raising awareness about their workplace rights, and referring migrant workers needing legal assistance to the service.

 Salary is in the range of $71,000 – 74,000* pro rata excluding superannuation (depending on experience) with salary packaging options available. MLC is a flexible workplace offering time in lieu options and pro rata paid Christmas closure of two weeks, in addition to four weeks annual leave and leave loading.

 Only applications specifically addressing each selection criteria will be considered. Email applications to the above address by midnight on Monday, 22 July 2019.

 Send applications to Vasili Maroulis, Managing Principal Solicitor, at vmaroulis@mlc.org.au or call 02 9559 2899 for enquiries.


Join Team MLC at Sydney Running Festival

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With the winter solstice just passed, Sydney springtime is around the corner. So get your trainers out and put your active wear to use by walking or running for Team MLC in the annual Blackmore’s Sydney Running Festival!

We’re aiming to raise more than $10,000 by Sunday 15 September to help us deliver legal services to vulnerable people. Running, walking or rolling for Team MLC is a great way to be active, raise money to help people access justice, and a once-a-year opportunity to cross Sydney’s beautiful coat-hanger on foot with no traffic.

Participants can choose to run or walk in:
Sydney Marathon
Half Marathon
Bridge Run - 10km
Family Fun Run - 3.5km

What can we offer in return?

  • Raise over $200 and we’ll send you an official Marrickville Legal Centre shirt or tote bag

  • Raise over $500 we’ll refund your entry fee

  • A dedicated Fundraising Coordinator - here to help you with your fundraising efforts.

If you'd like more information before signing up, please call Maeve on 02 9051 1530.

Social Justice Slam

Social Justice Slam

Highlights from Bankstown Poetry Slam and Marrickville Legal Centre’s ‘Social Justice Slam’ on 17 May 2019.

New Research PLT opportunity


Marrickville Legal Centre & Youth Justice Coalition PLT Volunteer 

 Job Type: Practical Legal Training Volunteer 
Level: Graduate 

338 Illawarra Road 
Marrickville NSW 2204 

Marrickville Legal Centre is looking for a motivated PLT student with a demonstrated commitment to social justice, who can volunteer with the centre 3-5 days per week for a minimum of 60 days 

Role and Context of the Position 

Marrickville Legal Centre (MLC) provides access to justice through the provision of legal services, law reform, and community legal education, particularly for people who are disadvantaged by their social and economic circumstances. 

This role offers a PLT student the opportunity to work on a major research project in addition to assisting the Youth Legal Service with its day to day operations. 

 The Research Task 

 MLC auspices the New South Wales Youth Justice Coalition (YJC http://www.yjc.org.au/), which is a network of youth workers, children’s lawyers, policy workers and academics who work to promote the rights of children and young people in NSW and across Australia.  

 In 1990, the YJC published the Kids in Justice Report: A Blueprint for the Nineties. After much lobbying and advocacy work from YJC members, this ground-breaking report eventually led to the NSW Young Offenders Act 1997.  

In 2020 YJC will be running a symposium in association with the Sydney University Institute of Criminology to commemorate the publication of the Kids in Justice Report. The symposium aims to examine to what extent law, policy and practice on youth justice issues has changed over the past thirty years.  

MLC is seeking a practical legal training student with a demonstrated passion for law reform and research. The successful applicant will play an instrumental role in the planning and development of the 2020 symposium. 

One of the main tasks associated with this role will be to undertake a research audit of youth justice policy since the publication of the Kids in Justice Report 30 years ago.  The audit will outline significant reforms, shifts in practice and identify any key areas that still need to be addressed with a focus on the minimum age of criminal responsibility, overrepresentation of Indigenous young people and young people in care and protection systems and conditions in detention. The completed audit will play a key role in laying the ground for the symposium proceedings and may lead to publication opportunities. 

The successful applicant will be supported by YJC members from a range of government and non-government organisations. Access to all information and resources needed for research will be provided, including links to original report authors.   

Kids in Justice: A Blue Print for the Nineties can be found here: http://www.yjc.org.au/resources.html 

 The Youth Legal Service 

The PLT will also have the opportunity to work with MLC’s Youth Legal Service, which provides advice, casework and advocacy for young people across NSW. Ideally the successful candidate will be available to assist with the Youth Legal Service’s evening advice clinic, held every Monday evening in the Sydney CBD. The PLT will perform two main tasks: intake and paralegal work. This includes interviewing clients and taking initial instructions, performing conflict checks, making client appointments, legal research and supporting solicitors with follow up legal tasks. 

More information about the Youth Legal Service can be found here:  http://www.mlc.org.au/youth 

Level of Responsibility 

PLTs are supervised by a solicitor for the duration of their placement. After an orientation period, all PLTs undertake a broad range of information, referral, administrative, and legal work under supervision. The ideal candidate will be able to demonstrate capacity to take initiative and work independently.  

Application Details 

It is desirable that the applicant will commence the role in July for a minimum of 3 days per week. Flexible days and hours are available by negotiation. 

Please provide your resume, details of two referees, your academic record, and a cover letter highlighting your commitment to social justice and interest in youth law reform issues.  

Enquiries and applications may be directed to Katie Green at kgreen@mlc.org.au 

 The closing date for applications is Monday 1 July 2019 

A kebab joint: and the legal takeout

A kebab joint: and the legal takeout

A young man who swore near a Newtown kebab shop late on a Friday night has escaped without a fine, after a court ruled in his favour.

Alec Kitching, of Leichhardt, admits he was “cheeky” when asking a police officer if the Daily Telegraph he was reading while waiting for his meal was where he got his “intel”.

During the exchange, in March 2017, Alec also pointed out the police riot van was in a bus zone. 

When police ordered him out of the premises, CCTV recordings showed him saying: “I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve got my fucking feet on the ground.”

The carpenter - who never managed to even get the kebab he had ordered and paid for - was subsequently issued with a $500 fine for offensive language, which he appealed.

Magistrate Quinn of Newtown Local Court found that while Alec swore, it was not intended to offend: instead it was used as a normal part of his language.

In her ruling she said that while it is “disgraceful” that police are sworn at, “everyone in Newtown would be locked up” if swearing were taken more seriously.

Alec says it’s a relief not to have a criminal record for both future employment prospects and other opportunities.

“It was such a stressful process - and I would have lost around five days’ work through the court appearances,” he says. That work would have earned him more than $1500.

The 25-year-old initially represented himself before getting a lawyer through Marrickville Legal Centre’s Youth Legal Service – which would have meant he would have to have cross-examined four police officers.

“It made a world of different having someone to speak with and advise me in which direction to take the case,” he says.

Alec is now considering pursuing a career in law.

Anyone in NSW who is 25 or under – or a guardian - can get free legal advice through the Youth Legal Service, based at Marrickville Legal Centre. The Centre can be reached on 9559 2899.

Alec Kitching (at left) with youth solicitor Vasili Maroulis from Marrickville Legal Centre

Alec Kitching (at left) with youth solicitor Vasili Maroulis from Marrickville Legal Centre

A youthful outlook

A youthful outlook

City-based lawyers like Rory Smith (pictured below) are volunteering their services for Marrickville Legal Centre – without leaving the big smoke.

The Colin Biggers & Paisley Foundation is hosting a new youth law clinic every Monday evening from 6pm at its offices in 2 Park Street.

“I enjoy getting the chance to get exposure to different areas of matters outside my usual practice areas as an insurance lawyer,” says Mr Smith, a senior associate at Colin Biggers & Paisley.

“It’s very rewarding to have been able to help a young person with an issue that may have been a big stressor in their life,” he says.

Any young person under the age of 25 in NSW can use the telephone-based service. The  types of law include employment, credit and debit matters, as well as traffic offences and fines.

Vasili Maroulis is a youth solicitor at Marrickville Legal Centre and sometimes supervises the evening advice clinic at Colin Biggers & Paisley (CBP).

“This service will allow us to reach more young people,” says Mr Maroulis. “Young people answer their calls at night – the morning and afternoon can be difficult for them - so we provide access for justice that is outside normal business hours.”

Karen Iles, the Director of Pro Bono and Responsible Business at CBP says it’s a natural partnership.

“The Colin Biggers & Paisley Foundation has a strong commitment to rights of children and young people, so we are thrilled to host this youth law clinic with Marrickville Legal Centre,” she says.

CBP is one of MLC’s pro bono partners and it currently provides up to four staff members for each youth clinic.

The clinic is open to volunteer solicitors and paralegals beyond CBP. Those who want to take part should contact Marrickville Legal Centre’s Youth Legal Service on (02) 9559 2899


Marrickville Legal Centre's Vasili Maroulis (with Pomeranian, Nala) and CBP's Rory Smith

Marrickville Legal Centre's Vasili Maroulis (with Pomeranian, Nala) and CBP's Rory Smith

Off the road, but still on track

Off the road, but still on track

A young man who was thrown out of the family home has been saved from a criminal conviction after a court ruled in his favour.

One of Marrickville Legal Centre’s youth solicitors argued the young person never received notification that his driver’s licence had been suspended. Instead, it had gone to his father’s home in Punchbowl, where he was not welcome.

“I had been kicked out of my father’s house because I had decided to transition from female to male. My father is really religious and he’s also a blackbelt – so I just backed off and started couch surfing,” says Jacob.

Jacob only learnt about the suspension when he was pulled over by a staff member from the Roads and Maritime Service in November 2017.

Liverpool Local Court dismissed the criminal charge of driving without a valid licence, which carries a maximum penalty of $3300 and six months in prison.

The Magistrate found Jacob’s circumstances were such that he could provide a reasonable and honest explanation as to why he drove without a valid licence.

“It means a lot because it’s not on my record. That’s a huge thing,” says Jacob, who has found stable accommodation and employment as a driver.

While the criminal matter has been dismissed, his employment remains in doubt. He is not able to work as a driver for three months, as he will still lose his licence for offences including speeding.

In the meantime, Jacob can fall back on his skills as a chef – but the income falls short of being a driver at a critical time.

He’s scheduled to have chest surgery in August, for which he needs an additional $4,000 – money that he was hoping to get from being on the road.

Marrickville Legal Centre runs a state-wide Youth Legal Service for people between the ages of 12 and 25. It can be reached on 9559 2899.


Building a legal career

Building a legal career

Owen Egbenoma’s family always hoped he would become a lawyer, after he showed promise as a public speaker throughout his schooling.

Now the 25-year-old is growing into the profession as a volunteer at Marrickville Legal Centre.

Owen initially started his legal career as a paralegal in a practice specialising in property law, but decided to do his Practical Legal Training (PLT) at MLC to find his direction.

“There’s great diversity in the work we do here, which is good,” says the graduate of Western Sydney Law School.

“Applying soft skills, being empathetic with clients and being able to have that initial rapport is really important. Trust is vital - it’s very significant given the background and circumstances of some our clients,” he says.

What are you trying to achieve from your PLT role at Marrickville Legal Centre?

Ever since I completed my degree, I’ve been trying to settle on what exactly it is I want to do within the profession, which area of the law my interest truly lies. The two practice areas I’ve worked in, I’ve realised they’re probably not for me -- property is okay, but it is perhaps too transactional.

Marrickville Legal Centre presents a fantastic opportunity because of the diversity and  breadth of work, and the different types of clients we assist.

Why did you choose to travel to Marrickville for your PLT?

I’ve always heard really positive things about the Centre, and have been intrigued by the activities of CLC's since my fourth year of Law School. During my studies at the College of Law, I interacted with several former MLC volunteers who gave glowing recommendations.

Where are you working most of the time?

I’m currently a retail consultant at Optus. I have been employed with the company since my time at university.

From these experiences, I've developed an intrigue in consumer protection. I did the Consumer Law elective at university and found the concepts interesting. I’m particularly looking forward to doing some employment law work at MLC. I have a commerce degree, with a major in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations, so I feel I can view these types of matters from multiple perspectives.

What do you remember about growing up in the Hills District?

Just a great place to grow up really, with an increasing mix of cultures. My family have lived in the Hills District for the majority of the time we've been in Australia. When my father arrived here from Nigeria, he started work as a cabbie. I was two years old when we arrived, and despite leaving quite young, I’ve still grown up with a lot of the Nigerian culture, and consider myself a proud Nigerian-Australian.

I look forward to going back over there soon.



Young people need a stronger voice in family law: MLC submission

Young people need a stronger voice in family law: MLC submission

The needs and views of young people are frequently overlooked by the legal system, even when it comes to matters directly affecting their care – or that of their siblings – according to a submission on the Family Law system, put together by Marrickville Legal Centre.

The Centre’s submission highlights what it calls the ‘default’ position of young people not having direct input into family law proceedings about parenting orders that affect them.

“The issue has been highlighted in a number of recent cases we have seen where young people estranged from a parent find themselves permanently separated from younger siblings that still live with the parent,” says Marrickville Legal Centre’s Family law and family violence solicitor, Dr Maree Livermore, who wrote the document.

“Family law now gives grandparents a specific path to use to protect their contact and relationship with grandchildren, yet there is no similar path for siblings,” she says.

The Centre has two current cases in which young people aged 16 and 17 are being prevented from seeing their siblings by a single parent. 

In a third case, after the death of their mother last year, a young person, has applied for sole parental responsibility for his three siblings. Joel* is concerned about the welfare of his siblings who are in the care of their father, who has a history of physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Joel was stabbed by his father three years ago.

Joel has written: “He is extremely violent and volatile. He has threatened to ‘wrap me around a tree’.   I’m worried that my brothers and sister are in danger.”

Dr Livermore, who is also the author of the Family Law Handbook, argues that young people like Joel have a lot to contribute to informed decision-making about care arrangements for children and the crafting of sustainable outcomes.

Currently, young people are usually required to start family law proceedings with a case guardian. Additionally, young people are also not allowed to give direct instructions to a lawyer.

The submission argues that the Family Law Act does not allow for the voices of young people to be clearly heard, a position which is out of step with the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the approach taken under state-based child protection laws.

“Despite children and young people being at the centre of parenting disputes, their views are almost always filtered, before they even reach the court, by adults who apply their own ideas about what should happen,” says Dr Livermore.

“Young people do not generally talk to judges, they don’t take part in mediation, and there is often no independent children’s lawyer or family consultant appointed. Quite apart from the rights issue, if the court is aiming to make a workable, sustainable decisions about arrangements for children, it is losing valuable data in not hearing directly from the people it matters the most to.

“It is fact that children and young people most often are fully aware that there is dispute about their parenting and, very often, have strong views about what should happen. They want to, and need to, be heard.”

The Turnbull Government announced the first comprehensive review into the family law system in 2017.


Creating a new life for survivors of violence

Creating a new life for survivors of violence

"Violence almost broke my creative spirit: I could no longer dance or sing."

My Thi is a life-long performer whose voice was effectively silenced by an abusive relationship.

That shattered spirit is common in those who have experienced violence: we see many of them walking through our door. 

"The support I got at Marrickville Legal Centre was invaluable: I could not have got back on my feet without it," she says. 

Help us support survivors of violence, through your generous tax-deductible, end-of-financial year donation.

When survivors contact Marrickville Legal Centre, we work with them in a holistic fashion to help them out of the shadows of violence.

While legal issues are often pressing, non-legal support, including counselling and connection with other services is vital.

Funding for that work is in jeopardy, despite an increasing need in our community.

To keep going with this vital work in the short-term, we urgently need to raise $50,000.

We know the difference the work makes to survivors, like My Thi.

She won victim’s compensation, which has helped her to establish a life – and to continue her artistic pursuits – in Sydney. 

In addition to her own work, she teaches art therapy classes to young homeless people and people who have experienced violence. 

"Sometimes I see my own experience of domestic violence reflected in their lives," she says. "It means a lot to be able to help them through it."

She also sings and dances to raise money for her community iand for the Ian Bowie Memorial Association in Sydney, helping disadvantaged young people find their way into the world of theatre. 

Your generous donation before June 30 will help support this vital work in the community for six months.

Your donation is tax-deductible and every cent of it will be spent on outreach to help people like My Thi. (That's no spending on administration or fundraising.)


Regaining her creative spirit ... My Thi dances at home. Credit: Jodie Barker

Regaining her creative spirit ... My Thi dances at home. Credit: Jodie Barker

Young people “Lawyer Up” in time for Youth Week

Young people “Lawyer Up” in time for Youth Week

Marrickville Legal Centre has come up with an artfully designed pocket card to help young people know what to say and do when they have interactions with police.

The card, which was distributed as part of a legal education program at Belmore Youth Resource Centre, gives young people tips like suggesting they film any interactions with police.

“We know that young people are often intimidated when they encounter police,” says Vasili Maroulis, one of the youth solicitors from Marrickville Legal Centre, who delivered the training.

“Amongst the tips in the card: It is legal to film such interactions and it’s a good idea, because everyone tends to be more aware of how their behaviour appears when the camera is rolling,” he says.

The pocket card was used as part of an eight-week curriculum delivered to young people from the Canterbury-Bankstown area, ahead of Youth Week (13-22 April).

The program, “Lawyer Up”, involved legal education and videos in four key areas:

  • Police Powers
  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • Sexting
  • Public transport issues

“The young people asked lots of questions during the sessions and it seemed to be thought-provoking for them,” says Frankie Sullivan, the other youth solicitor involved in the program.

The youth team from the City of Canterbury Bankstown was a partner in developing the material and approached a number of schools to ensure the material reached a large number of young people.

The work was funded thanks to a grant from the City of Canterbury Bankstown.

Police powers ... Marrickville Youth Solicitor Frankie Sullivan and the pocket cards.


Photo exhibit: social justice heroes

Photo exhibit: social justice heroes

The people of the inner west are inspiring, diverse and creative: yet often their stories go unrecognized.

Marrickville Legal Centre is hosting a photo exhibition which celebrates local people’s victories in fighting for justice.

It will be launched during Law Week (14-20 May).

The exhibition “Champions of Social Justice (inner west)” is part of the prestigious Sydney-wide portrait photography event the “Head On Festival”.

Amongst the subjects is Derek Rees (pictured), who was a business leader until he suffered a serious injury in a bushwalking fall.

Derek lived in his car in Marrickville for four years, accruing fines, until getting the legal and non-legal support he needed.

While he’s now got temporary accommodation in Dulwich Hill, the legacy of sleeping rough remains: he’s had further accidents, leaving him unable to make his own meals, or shave himself.

The photo of Derek is by inner west photographer Jodie Barker. Three other local photographers involved are Steven Siewert, Grant Turner and Valentina Penkova.

Other subjects include:

·      A young woman who was underpaid thousands of dollars by an unscrupulous employer

·      A woman who won victim’s compensation after leaving a violent relationship

·      A young man who was facing a jail term for acting in self-defence who is now a social worker and a new father.

Marrickville Legal Centre is an independent, nonprofit community legal centre, which offers free legal advice and assistance to people experiencing economic and social disadvantage in the inner west, south-west and southern suburbs of Sydney – and beyond. The Centre also operates two statewide services, including a youth legal service.

What: Champions of Social Justice (inner west): a photo exhibition

When: Monday 14 May to Friday 1 June from 9.30 to 5pm, Monday to Friday (except 1-2pm)

Where: 12-14 Seaview St, Dulwich Hill

Funded by NSW Government through the Stronger Communities Fund. Thanks to the Inner West Council for its support.

Other supporters of the exhibition include Colin Biggers & PaisleyRadio 2SER and Rewind Photo Lab.

Photo credit: Jodie Barker

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High regional NSW strata rates under the spotlight

High regional NSW strata rates under the spotlight

Northern NSW has amongst the highest rates of strata living outside of Sydney*.

Due to the increasing numbers of people living in strata buildings, a free service has been established to help owner-occupiers with the legal problems involved.

The two Sydney-based solicitors take calls from anywhere in the state – and have been giving information sessions around Newcastle and the Central, Mid- and North Coasts of NSW.

"We get a range of queries, from how to get repairs or renovations done and what to do if the property is considering collective sales, through to what to do when you receive a penalty notice for breach of by-law - for example for pets, or noise," says Jake Edwards, from the Strata Collective Sales Advocacy Service, pictured at right below.

The Service has a particular focus on recent changes to strata law, but it can take general queries. It gets a lot of calls relating to special levies.

“Special levies can push people into debt,” says Mr Edwards. “Often owner-occupiers can’t come up with large sums of money at relatively short notice like that. 

“Sometimes investors want to spend money on improving the common property in a strata scheme, like gardens and foyers, when owner-occupiers might not have the budget for this.”

Strata is the fastest growing form of residential property ownership in Australia.

“Over half the new dwellings to be built in our metropolitan areas over the next decades will be strata titled,” says solicitor Justin Abi-Daher, pictured at left below.

“Our service has been inundated by queries because strata affects the way people live, where they live and their budgets,” he says.

The latest figures, released in December 2015, show that outside of the Sydney metropolitan area, Wollongong LGA had the highest number of residential strata lots in NSW (16,303), followed by Newcastle (12,373) and the Tweed (12,068). Port Macquarie came in at number four with 6,395 lots and Coffs Harbour came in at number five with 6,254 lots.

The Service can be reached on (02) 9559 2899.

*Strata Data Report (2015), City Futures Research Centre, UNSW



A new hub for housing rights

A new hub for housing rights

Marrickville Legal Centre is thrilled to have a second, much-needed premises.

We’ve won the tender from the Inner West Council to take over the old Dulwich Hill Library for the next three years.

We’ll be open to the public at 12-14 Seaview Street from the end of March: Our work in the building will focus on housing rights, with the Centre’s tenancy and strata services located there.

The Centre’s original home, near the train station at 338 Illawarra Road Marrickville, will remain open and home to other core services.

Managing Principal Solicitor, Annette van Gent, says the Centre has grown in size and scope since it began almost 40 years ago - and it needed new premises to cope with the demand. 

“Marrickville Legal Centre began by serving the Greek community around Marrickville, but we now serve a large community in Sydney’s inner west, south-west and southern suburbs: the area is home to around 1.5 million people.

“We are grateful to the Inner West Council for allowing us to establish this hub focused on equitable housing. We know there is a housing affordability crisis, which means more people are renting than ever before: tenants will be able to come in and access our services if and when problems occur,” she says.

The Centre’s state-wide strata service will also offer free advice to owner-occupiers, if they are economically and socially disadvantaged.

The Mayor of the Inner West Council, Darcy Byrne, says the Council is on the side of renters and wants to them have greater security in the inner west. 

“There is a whole generation of people in the inner west who are being locked out of home ownership. We want people from all backgrounds to be able to build a life in our community which can't happen without giving renters greater protection and assistance,” he says.

“Council is leading the city by example with an affordable housing policy with an ambitious target of 15 per cent affordable housing on large developments, and 30 per cent on government owned land in urban renewal areas.

“Council has a long-standing relationship with the Marrickville Legal Centre and they are very effective advocates for disadvantaged people. We are delighted to welcome them to the old Dulwich Hill Library.”

Marrickville Legal Centre provides free and accessible legal and related services to people who experience social and economic disadvantage.

In addition to housing, the Centre has expertise with youth law and family and domestic violence. It also offers general, family and employment law services.

The Centre can be reached on 9559 2899 – or drop during office hours.

Mayor of the Inner West Council Darcy Byrne with MLC's Managing Principal Solicitor, Annette van Gent. (Credit: Jodie Barker)

Mayor of the Inner West Council Darcy Byrne with MLC's Managing Principal Solicitor, Annette van Gent. (Credit: Jodie Barker)

MLC people: the refugee turned law student

MLC people: the refugee turned law student

Quyen Nguyen was a political refugee from Vietnam in the 1970s: she escaped the country by boat with her parents and siblings and lived in a UN refugee camp in Malaysia before being settled in Australia in the 1970s.

When the family eventually settled in Sydney almost 40 years ago, they had lived in Dulwich Hill.

“When I was a child, we used to shop on Illawarra Road in Marrickville. There was such a large community of Vietnamese people here and there were some things that were familiar. We eventually moved to South Western Sydney when I was about 16 years old,” says Quyen, who has nearly completed her Juris Doctor at UNSW Law.

“When I volunteer at Marrickville Legal Centre, I hear a lot of stories about vulnerable people. Not so long ago, my parents and I were vulnerable. It was difficult to seek justice because we were migrants,” says the paralegal at Marrickville Legal Centre.

What was your first impression of Australia?

I was only 7 years old when we arrived in Australia, but I remember the place felt massive: the land and houses were sparse and widely separated compared to the little villages and houses in Asia.

Having said that, when we lived in Vietnam, we did not live in a small house. My great-grandfather was a billionaire, so we lived in a big compound.

My father studied Commerce in France and became a successful businessman upon his return to Vietnam. He eventually went into politics and became the Treasurer of the Democratic Party. After the war had ended in 1975, my family was persecuted by the Communist Party due to my father’s political activity.

Things were not equal for us when we arrived here. Migrants tended to settle in certain areas, and were only permitted to do certain jobs, so my Dad became a secretary and my Mum was a dressmaker.

What did you do before studying law?

I worked as a pharmacist for 24 years and I’m still doing it as a locum. I have worked in hospital and community pharmacies all over Sydney.

I always wanted to do law as a child, but my parents had advised against a career in Law because they had perceived that with English as a second language, I would struggle and may not become successful as a lawyer.

What made you decide to study law, finally?

I am getting old and if I cannot fulfil my wishes now, then there’s no point! I cannot delay my dream of becoming a lawyer any longer. It would look weird if I attend Law School in my 60s.

I want to use my intellect to help vulnerable people with social justice problems.

How have you found the study?

I started my JD a while back, but I had to drop to part-time study to nurse my elderly father at home.

It’s just me and Mum now. Thankfully, she’s doing well.

What’s something people might not know about you?

Before I studied to be a pharmacist, I thought I wanted to be a vet. I did that for a week, but realised I had a phobia of insects!

When I was at High School, I used to listen to Boy George and had tied my hair with ribbons like Boy George. When I went to Bethlehem College in Ashfield, the nuns made me remove the ribbons at the School Gates, and to comb my hair neatly before entering school grounds!

I also tell people that I’m taller than I actually am. I usually say that I’m 5 foot 5, but people don’t believe me since I am only 5 foot 2.


MLC paralegal Quyen Nguyen

MLC paralegal Quyen Nguyen

Strata service expands

Strata service expands

Our strata service is growing! 

Our newest service, which was set up in November 2016 in response to new strata laws on collective sales and redevelopment, is now also able to provide legal advice about other general strata-related matters, in certain circumstances. 

Justin Abi-Daher and Jake Edwards are the faces of the state-wide Strata Collective Sales Advocacy Service, which is funded by NSW Fair Trading. 

In certain matters, the team may represent clients in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal or the Land and Environment Court. 

Not only is the team doing more work, it's also on the move! 

As part of the outreach, Justin and Jake will be carrying out information sessions in areas with high strata density in northern NSW in early March.

The strata service is the sixth and newest service of Marrickville Legal Centre.

The team can be reached on 9559 2899.


MLC strata solicitors (l-r) Jake Edwards and Justin Abi-Daher 

MLC strata solicitors (l-r) Jake Edwards and Justin Abi-Daher 

Motor vehicle accidents get dedicated focus

Motor vehicle accidents get dedicated focus

Motor vehicle accidents are getting dedicated attention at Marrickville Legal Centre.

The new fortnightly clinic comes as a result of a new pro bono partnership with the business law firm Hall&Wilcox.

This takes to eight the number of legal firms which work closely with the Centre.

The firm’s Director of Pro Bono and Community, Nathan Kennedy, has been a long-time volunteer at the Centre.

MLC’s Managing Principal Solicitor, Annette van Gent welcomes the support of two solicitors every fortnight.

“People on low incomes often don’t have insurance because they can’t afford the premiums,” she says.

“That means when there’s an accident, they might be up for a lot of money and they have to navigate the system without the help of an insurance company.”

Mr Kennedy notes the partnership formalises what was already a well-established connection.

‘’I enjoy the diversity of the work at Marrickville Legal Centre,” says Mr Kennedy. “It was a natural progression for Hall&Wilcox to formalise a partnership on the back of that work.

“The firm has a strong commitment to social justice and ensuring that everyone has access to the legal help they need,” he says.

MLC is also grateful for all pro bono support and the formal partnerships it has already formed with seven other legal firms. They are:

·      Clayton Utz

·      Colin, Biggers & Paisley

·      Gilbert + Tobin

·      HWL Ebsworth

·      MinterEllison

·      Sparke Helmore

·      Santone Lawyers

Hall&Wilcox Director - Pro Bono & Community, Nathan Kennedy

Hall&Wilcox Director - Pro Bono & Community, Nathan Kennedy

Opening the curtains on a new career: theatre producer turned solicitor

Opening the curtains on a new career: theatre producer turned solicitor

Opening the curtains on a new career: theatre producer-turned-solicitor

“I don’t seem like a ‘crazy artist’ but that’s the world I was in before law,” says Genevieve Barry, a long-time volunteer with Marrickville Legal Centre.

“A lot of people think art and law is a strange combination, but art teaches you to empathise with people going through hard times and law is about getting people through difficult times. I think there’s a real connection,” says Genevieve, who completed a Juris Doctor with the University of Sydney Law School and was recently admitted as a solicitor.

Have you always wanted to study law?

As a kid I’d always planned to be a lawyer but when it came time to start a career, art seemed like the most attractive avenue. My Dad was a barrister who worked in Family Law and Mental Health and after he died in 2013 I thought, ‘There’s no time like the present’ and so I applied to do my Juris Doctor.

What attracted you to study law?

The whole world is basically teetering on this artificial basis that we all obey the law. We all somehow collectively agreed that we would follow these laws and I find that really interesting. I’ve always thought of law as being a real public service. I can help people who need help and that’s what interests me.

Where did your career take you before studying law?

I finished my Masters in Arts Administration and Curation and ran Berkelouw Books, with 12 stores, from 2010 to 2013: one of the things we did was start writers’ events and the cafe. Then I worked for a year at Performing Lines, an Australian touring theatre company, and also did some independent curating. Those things were really interesting and enjoyable but it just never felt like enough.

Why did you choose Marrickville Legal Centre to do your Practical Legal Training (supervised training to become a solicitor)?

I saw an ad from MLC and I thought: ‘This is probably going to be the best decision because it’s trial by fire.’ I knew I’d be getting experience in criminal law, family law, civil law and the whole gamut of all sorts of law. I learnt in four months what would have taken me a year to learn elsewhere. You can be exposed to anything and everything if you’re open to it.

What’s great about working in a community legal centre is that you get to follow the matter from meeting the client to taking them to court and representing them and if you get a positive outcome it’s just incredible. I understand the legal process more and I understand how to develop relationships with the client more when I’m working with them from start to finish.

How did you feel when you found out you were to be admitted?

Relieved! It’s such an intense application process with your academic record, character references, Practical Legal Training confirmation, police check and you have to be assessed as a fit and proper person and it’s a culmination of 3 to 4 years of hard work. Now I'm excited about what's going to happen next!

What are people surprised to learn about you?

I don’t seem like a ‘crazy artist’ but that’s the world I was in before law. I like facilitating creative spaces for other people, I’ve even MC’d a few weddings. In fact my Mum, Marcia Barry, and my sister, Anna Barry, and I have a production company called TUELLEing. We’ve produced cabaret shows and charity events. A lot of people think art and law is a strange combination but art teaches you to empathise with people going through hard times and law is about getting people through difficult times. I think there’s a real connection.

Genevieve Barry is photographed (at right) after being admitted as a solicitor with MLC youth solicitor Katie Green.



A refresh for MLC Board

A refresh for MLC Board

Three new faces have been voted onto Marrickville Legal Centre’s Board.

One of the new Board members is a long-time volunteer solicitor with the Centre, Ian Bennett (pictured below at left).

Ian is an employment lawyer who also works with one of the Centre’s pro bono law firms, Sparke Helmore.

The other new Board Members are Alexandra Conroy and Alejandro Arvelo (also pictured).

Alejandro is a senior lawyer with extensive in-house and private practice experience in the insurance and finance and technology industries.

Alexandra Conroy is a former corporate lawyer, who launched and is currently leading a tailored healthcare business. 

This takes to nine the number of people sitting on the Board. They are:

·       Graham Jenkins (Chair), a consultant and investor who advises clients on business issues

·       Brent Goldman (Treasurer), a specialist in corporate finance, currently with Nexia Australia

·       Lainie Anderson (Secretary), Project Officer with Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

·       Simon Fitzpatrick, barrister at pro bono supporters 7 Wentworth Selborne Chambers

·       David Johnson, a chartered accountant

·       John Laxon, employment, crime and commercial lawyer with Laxon Lex

The Centre wishes to thank Rebecca Kenny, General Counsel for the Australia Council for the Arts, for her significant contribution as a Board member during 2016-2017.