September News

Whilst our offices remain closed, FLS staff continue to work tirelessly to support and advocate for our clients.  The impacts of COVID-19 on the Victorian community have been significant and will continue to be felt well into the future.  This difficult situation continues to challenge us to think creatively and look at innovative ways to deliver vital services to clients at a time when they need us more than ever.   We also continue to advocate to ensure that the restrictions and use of extraordinary powers are lawful, proportionate and justified, and supported Liberty Victoria's call that "the Victorian Government limit any extension of the state of emergency to a maximum of six months, and to commit to four-weekly reviews within that period to ensure that limits on human rights and freedoms will only continue where necessary".   We were disappointed to be advised by Victoria Police of a change in their approach to policing the COVID-19 restrictions, moving from the previous approach involving education and guidance to a stronger enforcement approach.  Our COVID-19 telephone advice line continues to be offered to provide free legal advice to individuals who may have received a fine, had an internal review rejected by Victoria Police and/or been treated unfairly or targeted.

FLS was thrilled to recently receive support for three initiatives.  We have been funded to be involved in the roll-out of the Specialist Family Violence Courts Model at Heidelberg Magistrates Court, in conjunction with Victoria Legal Aid.  The purpose of the new new model is to deliver client centred quality legal services in the Specialist Family Violence Courts that are easy to access, safe to use and integrated within the family violence service system.   We have also received an Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Grant from the Australian Government Department of Social Services.  This grant will allow us to work with Voices for Change to support self advocacy for people with acquired brain injury and lived experience of the criminal justice system.  Through the support of the Victorian and Federal Governments, we will embark on a redevelopment of The Law Handbook website, to ensure that plain language legal information is more accessible to members of our community, assisting them to address their legal problems and ultimately positively impacting on community health and wellbeing.

For further updates please keep reading below.


Two recent judgements highlight the important work of our Migrant Employment Law Clinic in advocating for people from overseas, living in Australia on a visa, who have been underpaid or exploited in employment, including:

  • A published judgment in our favour in Budathoki v Consult Security supporting our client's claims of numerous breaches in relation to alleged non-payment of appropriate rates of pay for work on weekends and public holidays, underpayments in respect of his shifts, and irregularity of payment.
  • An order that $10,000 be paid to our client in wages and entitlements in Haghi v Tarvand.

Congratulations and thanks to the team for their work on these cases.


In July we released "A Constellation of Circumstances: The Drivers of Women’s Increasing Rates of Remand in Victoria", in partnership with the La Trobe Centre for Health, Law and Society.  The report launch coincided with a webinar, exploring the issue. A recording of the webinar is available via YouTube (…) whilst a copy of the report is available on our website 


On 26 August 2020 we supported the National Day of Action to #raisetherateforgood to advocate for a permanent and adequate increase to Jobseeker and other payments.  Staff and volunteers provided their messages of support, a selection of which can be viewed below.



Former FLS colleague Kaz Gurney recently retired and we wanted to acknowledge her significant contribution to the legal assistance sector and the Victorian community.  Kaz commenced volunteering with FLS at the beginning of 2007 and was then employed firstly as a Solicitor Advocate and then a Community Lawyer at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre from 2008 until September 2012.  More recently Kaz was the Manager and Principal Solicitor for the Goulburn Valley CLC, and the Shepparton News included a lovely article  We wish Kaz all the best for retirement.


What attracted you to working at FLS?

I had previously volunteered with FLS in the Drug Outreach Lawyer (DOL) Program and night service. It made me realise my law degree could eventuate into a rewarding job. I was working with real people who needed our help which we could actually help and often make a difference is a very tangible way.

What does your role involve?

I assist and advocate for people who use drugs who experience systemic disadvantage. It is an outreach model which means we aim to reach individuals who would not traditionally go out of their own way to seek legal assistance. We meet them where they feel comfortable.  A large part of this work involves working in partner health services with the workers to ensure the best outcome for the client.

A little background about yourself?

I am an Adelaidean by birth. Pre 2012, I studied at a local acting school and worked as an actor for 10 or so years  in theatre, voice over work, touring children’s shows  and the odd appearance in commercials and TV shows.  I also dabbled in writing and unexpectedly wrote a show that ended up running for five sold out seasons in Adelaide and Melbourne.

At the age of 30, I came back from a stint overseas travelling and it felt like as good a time as any to scratch a long time itch to go to university. I chose a double degree in law and psychology at Flinders University. I figured I would work out which one I was better suited to along the way. I transferred to La Trobe for the final two years of the degree.  

What led you to want to study law?

I was always interested in what makes people tick and the external structures that surround and attempt to control that ticking so it made sense to me to go back to study law in conjunction with psychology.

What do you like to do in your free time? Any hobbies or travel? If you have travelled, anywhere special?

I have a little toddler so that takes up the bulk of our free time at the moment. It is great fun though!  Out of lockdown, I enjoy surfing the whole year around.  Travel is always something I enjoy doing. I would visit one of the many little coastal villages peppering the world and do nothing but swim, surf and eat delicious food. Taghazout in Morocco, Salina Cruz in Mexico, Peniche in Portugal to name just a couple. Either that or Paris. I love Paris.


We recently welcomed two new appointments to the FLS Board - Mick Sheehy and Karri Walker. 

Mick Sheehy joined PwC as a partner in October 2018 to build and run PwC’s Australian NewLaw practice, focussed on providing strategic consulting, technology and outsourcing solutions to legal departments. Mick is a recognised international leader in the field of legal innovation and transformation, having won numerous international legal innovation awards and with his work the subject of a case study for Harvard Law School. Mick founded and chaired the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium Australia, an industry body established to share best practice legal operations and innovation knowledge. Mick is a Member of the External Law Advisory Committee at Swinburne University of Technology, has an extensive commercial and M&A background and before PwC spent 14 years at Telstra where he was General Counsel.

Karri Walker is Nyiyaparli woman whose family is from the Pilbara and has grown up on Wurrundjeri country. Karri works as a lawyer in the Public Commercial team at Arnold Bloch Leibler and is the co-chair of the ABL Indigenous Solidarity Network. She is the Co-President of Tarwirri, the Indigenous lawyers and law students association. Karri dedicates her work and expertise to working with Aboriginal peoples to achieve self-determination. She has worked as an Indigenous student mentor and advocated for the inaugural Indigenous student representative position at Melbourne Law School. Karri holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne.


The 2020 Law Handbook was released in February and is the 42nd edition of this important Victorian legal resource.  The hard copy is on sale and can be purchased

The resource is also available as an eBook and in individual PDF chapters.


If you would like to support our work, please consider making a donation.  Donations over $2 are tax deductible and can be made via our website