Quarterly News - December 2017

Welcome to our December e-news.  As we head into the holiday season, we would like to acknowledge all the individuals and organisations who have supported the Fitzroy Legal Service in some way.   From our talented and dedicated staff and volunteers to the many organisations we partner with to deliver services, it's been a busy and impactful year.   We also acknowledge our funders and donors, whose financial support is vital to our work.


The 2017 Fitzroy Legal Service Annual General Meeting was held on Thursday 27th November where we welcomed two new members who were elected to the Board – Fiona Delahunt and Catherine Charleson. Our Chair Bruce McBain was also re-elected to the Board for a further three year term.    Brief bios on all our board members can be found on our website.

Julie Fletcher and Marg DarcyPhoto - Marg Darcy and Julie Fletcher

We also were able to acknowledge Erwin Reiss’ outstanding contribution to Fitzroy Legal Service with a presentation to his partner Marg Darcy. Erwin passed away in September 2017.   Our volunteer Coordinator Julie Fletcher presented Marg with a framed photo of Erwin, a second photo will be placed in our premises.  Erwin first commenced volunteering at the Fitzroy Legal Service when we were located in Brunswick Street. At the time Erwin was in his mid 40’s and had decided to go to university and do a legal studies course.   Erwin volunteered for a number of years and then ceased volunteering until he retired from the Commonwealth Public Service.  Upon retirement Erwin re-commended volunteering with Fitzroy Legal Service and was a regular volunteer until early 2017.    We estimate Erwin contributed over twenty years of volunteering with the Fitzroy Legal Service.



Photo L-R: Claudia Fatone (Fitzroy Legal Service), Kristen Hilton (Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner),
Wilma McCoy, Ruth Barson and Alina Leikin (Human Rights Law Centre)

The Fitzroy Legal Service was proud to be part of the legal team awarded the 2017 Tim McCoy Award at the 30th Anniversary Tim McCoy Memorial Dinner, held in November.   The legal team included the Human Rights Law Centre, the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and Counsel, who initiated successful action to remove children from the Barwon adult maximum security prison in December 2016.   We acknowledge our Social Action Manager Meghan Fitzgerald, Principal Solicitor Jennifer Black, Criminal Lawyer Natasha Wolan and volunteer paralegal Madeline White for all their work on this important case!


The Fitzroy Legal Service has welcomed the State Government’s announcement of extra funding for our vital work over the next two years.    Fitzroy Legal Service will receive a total of $300,000 over this period to continue and extend our work.   The funding will allow the continuation of our health justice partnerships with North Richmond Community Health, Fitzroy Learning Network and Queerspace (Drummond Street Services) which are focused on supporting victims/survivors of family violence.   The funding will also allow a new Employment Law Service to be established, providing casework services to individuals on working holiday and student visas who have been exploited or underpaid by employers.    We thank the Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula MP for his continued support of the work of community legal centres.


How long have you been volunteering at Fitzroy Legal Service?
I commenced volunteering with FLS in early 2014.

How did you get involved in volunteering at Fitzroy Legal Service?
I have been involved in volunteer work for two decades as I believe it is important to give back to society.  I have personally had the benefit of a wonderful education and I feel that I have a responsibility to share my knowledge with others. Volunteering using my legal skills is particularly valuable given the large numbers of people in our society unable to access legal assistance without the help of community legal centers. I had done a number of years volunteering at Women’s Legal Service Victoria’s telephone service when I decided to move over to volunteering at Fitzroy Legal Service to provide client assistance on a face to face basis.

What do you enjoy most about your volunteering experience?
I volunteer in relation to family law only, as this is my area of specialty. I love helping people with family law – I believe that if our client can be assisted to settle the legal issues arising from relationship breakdown with dignity and efficiency, then they will be set free to move on with their lives.

Where did you study? What made you interested in the law?
I completed my Bachelor of Law at Melbourne University graduating with Honours. I took a double degree, also completing a Bachelor of Commerce.  I am the daughter of a father who was a social worker dealing in child mental heath and a mother who was a psychologist working at the Family Court of Australia. As a result of my parent’s professions, I have always been aware of the impact of family breakdown and this is what led me to explore and ultimately adopt a career in family law.

What are your favourite aspects of practicing law?
I really enjoy client interaction. Practicing family law allows me extensive interaction with clients. I find it incredibly rewarding that I am able to help people get through what is an incredibly difficult time in their lives (the aftermath of the breakdown of their relationship).

Tell us a bit about your background
I grew up in Melbourne in the Eastern suburbs. When I finished university, I undertook my Traineeship and then first year of practice at a busy family law firm in the Western suburbs, where I gained experience working in both private practice and also legal aid family law matters.  For the last seven years I have practiced at a boutique family law firm in the eastern suburbs (Clancy & Triado).  In 2017 I achieved LIV accreditation as an Accredited Specialist in Family Law. Achieving accreditation involves significant study and the passing of assessments. My decision to undertake the specialisation is indicative of my passion for and commitment to the area of family law.

What do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies or travel?
I am an avid fan of coloring in! I also adore travel and have been lucky enough to travel quite broadly. Some of my travel has involved volunteer work in Costa Rica and also in India. In the last five years I have focused my travel on the Middle East, travelling to Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and also Iran.

Natasha Cecic


There are a number of ways to support the work of Fitzroy Legal Service staff and volunteers:

1) Become a Member
Membership is open to any individual to apply. See our website for further details.

2) Purchase a Law Handbook
Grab your copy of The Law Handbook, a practical guide to the law in Victoria, updated by over 80 legal experts. It provides free, comprehensive information about the laws that affect Victorians in everyday life.

The Law Handbook 2018 will be released on 31 January 2018 and is available for pre-order via our online store.  The Law Handbook is available in hard copy, eBook and PDF chapters. 

3) Make a tax deductible donation
Every $ counts. Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible and can be made via our website.


On behalf of the Board, staff and volunteers of Fitzroy Legal Service, we wish you, your family and friends a safe and happy festive season.

We thank you for your continued support and look forward to working together in 2018.

Free legal advice service: closed from Friday 15 December 2017; open again Monday 8 January 2018.

Our office: closed from 1 p.m., Friday 22 December; open again at 9 a.m., Tuesday 2 January 2018.  

If you or anyone you know requires assistance during this time, please contact:
• Victoria Legal Aid on 1300 792 387 (excluding public holidays)
• Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre 24/7 on free call 1800 015 188