Early intervention and better access to justice
Eastern Community Legal Centre’s (ECLC) 44th Annual General Meeting on 20 November 2018 in Balwyn North was the right time and right place for the centre’s leaders and guest speaker to talk about early intervention and better access to justice for vulnerable communities in the eastern region of Melbourne.
Janet Matton, ECLC Chairperson, welcomed about 70 visitors, partner organisations, volunteers and staff. She told them that ECLC‘s newly adopted integrated practice model with other community service professionals is providing better experiences and outcomes for people seeking legal support.
Chief Executive Officer Michael Smith said that while resources remain inadequate to meet the growing demand for access to justice, “It was another huge year for ECLC as staff and volunteers worked hard to help clients before it was too late.”
ECLC changed the way it operated to help vulnerable people experiencing family violence, elder abuse, and those in Aboriginal and culturally diverse communities in the eastern region.
By focusing on prevention and early intervention, ECLC worked with other community services, changed its internal processes, and provided support in as many locations as possible to give better access to vulnerable people who need legal access more often.
ECLC provides legal support from offices in Box Hill, Boronia, and Healesville and from multiple outreach locations, the most recent addition being Monbulk.
The intake teams that receive phone calls from people making first contact with ECLC are now based in the Boronia office so they can work more collaboratively and so they can support the project teams which are based where the vulnerable communities are based.
Guest speaker, Australia’s Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson AO said she valued her visits to ECLC as it gave her the opportunity to learn more about elder abuse from a wide variety of professional people working at the coal face.
“The spotlight is now turning on elder abuse and ECLC is playing a leading role in early intervention and access to justice for the elderly.
“It is amazing how much ECLC does with such limited resources and its Annual Report is testament to the work of the Board, management, staff and volunteers,” Dr Patterson said.
ECLC farewelled and thanked Tony Monley for his ten years as ECLC Treasurer. Tony has been replaced by Luong Ta, a serving Board member. Three other vacancies were filled by Jose Abalo, Christine Cowin, and Katherine Dowson. Malcom Cumming, Jeanette McRae, and Guy Masters have one year remaining of their two-year term. Janet Matton will continue as Chairperson.