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Wednesday August 7, 2019

Youth justice: time to raise the age

PIAC is leading the call in NSW to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14. We’re working as part of a national campaign with partners Amnesty International, the Human Rights Law Centre, and Change the Record.
‘Our juvenile justice system is broken. We know that locking up children as young as 10 does not work to make our community safer. It not only promotes reoffending, but is recognised as a fast-track to adult imprisonment,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor.
‘Last month’s riots at Baxter juvenile detention centre highlight the need for a fundamental re-think. We need justice solutions that reduce crime and rehabilitate offenders – and for young people this simply doesn’t happen in detention,’ said Jonathon Hunyor. 
You can listen to Jonathon talking about the problems with juvenile detention and why we need to raise the age on The Drum (23 July) as well as Triple J’s Hack.
A fairer NDIS
‘A fairer NDIS’ is a new PIAC project that seeks to improve outcomes under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for people with disability.
The NDIS has great potential to provide choice and control for people with disability as well as early intervention services for many Australians who have never received assistance before. However, those who should be benefitting from the scheme have reported a range of concerns, particularly in relation to application and appeal processes.
PIAC is working with people with disability, carers, peak groups and stakeholders to identify and address key concerns. The initial focus of our work is on improving transparency and consistency around decision-making, and making the appeals process less adversarial and more user-friendly. 
Ultimately, we hope to make the system fairer and work better to meet the needs of people with disability. More...
Law reform: supporting survivors of domestic violence
PIAC is working to stop survivors of domestic violence being unnecessarily arrested if they fail to attend court to give evidence against alleged perpetrators.
We recently represented a survivor of domestic violence who was arrested and detained overnight by NSW Police when, because of threats from her ex-partner, she did not appear as a witness in court against him. While that case settled in our client’s favour, our consultations with service providers and other community legal centres indicate that this is not an isolated incident.
Last month we convened a roundtable of key organisations. Expert participants gave us valuable feedback on proposals for law reform that would avoid future unjust arrests as well as supporting survivors to give evidence in a way that is fair and robust. PIAC is very grateful to all of the organisations that attended and contributed to the discussions and we look forward to working together to make change in this area.
Health care and human rights seminar with the Kirby Institute
The Hon Michael Kirby delivery the keynote speechThe human right to access health care was the focus of the World Hepatitis Day seminar co-presented by PIAC and the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.
Featuring a keynote speech by the Hon Michael Kirby, the event brought together experts from legal, health and community backgrounds to discuss strategies to ensure that marginalised populations, including people who use drugs, have equal, discrimination-free access to health care.
PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor highlighted the success of PIAC’s Asylum Seeker Health Rights Project in securing access to curative treatment for asylum seekers with Hepatitis C in onshore detention.
Other speakers, including Professor Andrea Durbach, Associate Professor Kate Seear and Annie Madden AO presented on a range of topics relating to inequities to health care for marginalised individuals and groups in society, with a focus on people who use drugs. See PIAC’s Twitter feed @PIACnews for tweets from the night. 
Homelessness Week 2019
Homelessness Week is an important week in our calendar. This year, our Homeless Persons’ Legal Service (HPLS) will be offering free legal advice through our regular clinics and at the Western Sydney Homeless Connect in Parramatta and Hunter Homeless Connect in Newcastle.
We continue our work to protect the rights of people currently experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity through legal advice and advocacy, policy development and substantive research. Watch out for our forthcoming joint report with Homelessness NSW on policing of rough sleepers in the inner-city. 
During this week, we join with colleagues across the social services sector to call for meaningful reform to end homelessness. As part of the Everybody’s Home alliance, we call for meaningful reforms to fix Australia’s housing system and ensure that everybody in our community has a secure place to call home. 
Announcing PIAC’s new Principal Solicitors
Pictured L-R: Camilla Pandolfini, Jonathon Hunyor, Michelle CohenWe are delighted to announce the appointment of Camilla Pandolfini and Michelle Cohen as PIAC’s new co-Principal Solicitors, following the departure of Laura Lombardo.
‘Camilla and Michelle have significant experience driving successful strategic litigation at PIAC and both bring a depth of experience in achieving outcomes for clients and the community. We are looking forward to working with them in this critical leadership role,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor. More...
Pathways to Policy
Forum attendeesIn July, NSW Young Lawyers and PIAC jointly held a successful forum at the University of NSW on the topic of policy-related career options for law students.
Moderated by PIAC Senior Policy Officer Alastair Lawrie, the panel included Julia Mansour (ex-PIAC, now with the Department of Communities and Justice), Mark Riboldi (CLCNSW), Renee Bianchi (Women Lawyers Association of NSW), Nicole Lawless (Assistant Ombudsman) and Adi Prigan (Law Society of NSW).
The forum was attended by more than 60 UNSW students, and saw a lively and thoughtful discussion of employment choices for law graduates – that don’t involve legal practice. There will be a similar forum at UTS in September.
Opinion: demand response decision will cut power bills
Last month, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) announced a draft change to the rules for the electricity system to allow for ‘demand response’. This is a major reform that PIAC has pursued for years, and represents a significant disruption to the energy market - tipping the power balance in favour of energy users and away from the big retailers and generators. 
We proposed this rule change directly to the AEMC, together with the Australia Institute and the Total Environment Centre. You can read about some of the issues around demand response in this opinion piece by PIAC’s Craig Memery and Anna Livsey on the ABC website.
NSW Young Lawyers 2019 Young Professionals Ball: L’Affaire Parisienne
NSW Young Lawyers wish to extend an invitation for you to join them for their major fundraising event of the year: L’Affaire Parisienne!
Now in its 13th year, the 2019 Young Professionals Charity Ball will be a très chic Parisian Affair where you will take a step back in time and spend the night in la ville lumière…
Hosted at the Sofitel Wentworth Sydney on 31 August from 7pm, there’ll be mingling, music and amusement along with a délectable three-course dinner, beverages, raffles and games… les joies de la vie! 
The event is NSW Young Lawyers' major fundraising event for the year. Proceeds will support their 2019 charity – PIAC! Tickets and more information here.
PIAC is 37!
Since 1982 PIAC has developed a reputation for tackling difficult issues and achieving sustainable systemic change. Many thanks to all the clients, staff, partner organisations & friends who have worked with us over the years. You can read about some of the many things we have achieved together recently here.
Public Interest Advocacy Centre Ltd
www.piac.asn.au - ABN 77 002 773 524

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