Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Intersex Legal Service Inc.

Annual Report 2014

 

Download this annual report (PDF, 1.7 MB)

Acknowledgements

This Annual Report covers the period 2013 to 2014 and has been presented at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Intersex Legal Service Inc. Annual General Meeting on 18 October 2014.

LGBTI Legal Services Inc. affirms that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the Indigenous inhabitants of Australia and acknowledges their unique relationship with their ancestral country.  In particular, we acknowledge the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, the traditional custodians of the land in and around Brisbane, and pay respect to their elders, past and present.

The Service would like to extend thanks to the following organisations:

The Service acknowledges and thanks the contributions to this Report from members and volunteers of the Service, and particularly Lia Shea, Thomas Pepper, Jordyn Jones and Scott McDougall for their contributions to this Report.

This Report will also be made available online at www.lgbtilegalservice.org.au.

About the Service

Who are we?

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex Legal Service Inc. is a non-profit and unfunded community-based legal service, which began service on 7 July 2010 and was officially launched on 1 December 2010 by The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG.

The Service staffed entirely by volunteers.  The team of around 30 includes the management committee, the Director and Assistant Director (Client Services), lawyers, evening coordinators and legal assistants.

Mission statement

The Service recognises the difficulties faced by the LGBTI community and seeks to assist the Queensland LGBTI community to gain access to justice through the provision of legal and social welfare services.  We also endeavour to provide community legal education activities and resources in order to increase awareness of legal rights and responsibilities for the LGBTI community in Queensland.  The Service includes a law reform division, which is actively involved in advocating for law reform and human rights.

What do we do?

We provide legal advice and information to clients who have legal problems which arise from their identification as LGBTI and/or because they feel more comfortable in dealing with a solicitor with specific skills, interest and understanding of LGBTI legal issues and/or the barriers experienced by LGBTI peoples in accessing the legal system.

We also actively participate in law reform on LGBTI legal issues, as well as community legal education and awareness raising.

President’s Report

During the 2013 to 2014 financial year we have continued to run regular evening advice sessions on Wednesday nights.  The regular turn out to these sessions continues to demonstrate a consistent need within the LGBTI community for a specific legal advice service.

We have again held a stall at the annual Pride festival and our snazzy new merchandise was a real hit with the colourful crowd.  We have also continued to promote the Service in queer press and other events.

This year we launched a series of factsheets designed to give simple legal answers to some of the frequently asked questions from our clients.  These factsheets can be found on our website.

We were excited to receive our official accreditation as a community legal service and look forward to working with other community legal services in Queensland and Australia on issues relating to the LGBTI community.

It is not enough to simply advise on current laws and we accept the fact that at times our society and laws allow discrimination and prejudice.  Over the year we engaged in several law reform activities aimed at improving our human rights and standing up for our basic dignities.  Accordingly, we made submissions to government, met with the Human Rights Commissioner and have spoken on the radio about issues of concern.

We are excited about the 2014 to 2015 financial year where new initiatives will be trialled, such as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support service, a transgender rights fact sheet and an education session detailing laws for trans children.

Matilda Alexander

Treasurer’s Report

See Annexures

Camielle Donaghey

Secretary’s Report

During 2014, Coral announced that she would be stepping down as secretary of the LGBTI Legal Service Management Committee.  Coral was a founding member of the Service, and has been a stalwart of the Service since its inception some years before that.  The Management Committee wish to formally extend their gratitude and appreciation for the many hours of personal time that Coral has willingly and freely given to the Service over the years.

The Management Committee have met regularly throughout 2014, generally once every six weeks.

I agreed to take up the temporary caretaker position of secretary up to the AGM.  Unfortunately, the combination of a new job with increased responsibilities and personal sporting commitments has resulted in a reduced ability to effectively support the Management Committee.  As such, I will not be able to stand for the position of Secretary for 2015.

Dino Willox

Director’s Report

This year has seen growth and exciting new opportunities for the Service in its offerings to clients and the community.

We recognise that the majority of our clients come to the Service through word of mouth and other informal referrals.  To play to this strength, there has been a renewed effort in our community presence, where we have had stalls at the Pride Fair, Sunshine Coast Pride Fair and held a community seminar, So You Want To Make A Baby, MCed by our own David Cleary.  This is an area in which we are determined to continue growing in, with plans well underway for a trans kids seminar early next year.

We have partnered with both QUT and the UQ Pro Bono Centre, projects which have already reaped great benefits, including fact sheets on discrimination, parenting and IVF, as well as a review of legal needs in Queensland –a snapshot of which is contained further on in this Report.  Still in the pipeline are a booklet on changing identity documents for trans people and a report on surrogacy laws in Queensland.

Another exciting development is our expanding connections with major law firms in Brisbane.  We are in discussions with a number of firms about the assistance that can be offered and the expanded capacity which the Service would have.  Our first, and ambitious, plan is preparing submissions tackling the issue of the unequal age of consent in Queensland, hand in hand with a move to quash historical gay sex convictions.

The contribution of other community legal centres is also immensely valuable to us, and we recently partnered with the Inner City Legal Centre to issue a media release on the reporting of domestic violence and trans individuals.  Similarly, we owe a debt of gratitude to Caxton Legal Centre for their never ending support in everything.

Finally, and not least, this year saw the appointment of David Cleary as Assistant Director (Client Services).  The contribution which he has made to the Service is phenomenal, from running the evening advice sessions to arranging marketing and attending events.  I also take the opportunity to thank Lia Shea, who has embraced her involvement with the Service and, alongside other tasks, enlivened our Facebook page and social media presence.

With a steady volunteer base of dedicated individuals and a passionate management committee, who as a team have a wealth of experience across a number of areas, the Service is in a great position to continue expanding and assisting the community.

Emile McPhee

Assistant Director’s (Client Services) Report

In January 2014, the position of Assistant Director (Client Services) was created to manage and coordinate the LGBTI Legal Service’s evening legal advice sessions.  These responsibilities were formerly undertaken by the Director, who was also managing QUT law student projects, law reform and broader organisational activities.

Between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2014, there has been a 5% increase in the total number of client seen by the Service, compared to the previous year.  We would like to see this trend continue.  We have begun to implement strategies to create greater awareness of the service in the LGBTI community.

Earlier this year, the Service received a $3,000 sponsorship grant from QNews to advertise the Service in its publication.  New advertisements for the evening legal advice sessions have been developed which will be published in QNews (commencing in November 2014) and also electronically through social media, an example of which can be seen on page 1 (About the Service).  We encourage others to distribute these advertisements amongst their LGBTI networks.  We have also have appointed a legal assistant volunteer who is dedicated to raising awareness of the service through social media platforms.

Earlier this year, the Service placed an advertisement in the Queensland Law Society’s newsletter.  As a result, we have also seen an increase in lawyers and law students volunteering with the Service. We currently have 12 solicitors and 9 evening coordinators volunteering on a fortnightly to monthly basis.  Given this positive response, the Service plans to undertake more regular recruitment drives through the Queensland Law Society’s newsletter.

I would like to thank QuAC for their continued support and QNews for its generous sponsorship.  I would also like to thank the volunteer lawyers and evening coordinators for their hard work and commitment to helping our LGBTI community.  Without it, the evening legal advice sessions could not operate.

David Cleary

Some events

Our people

Management Committee

President Matilda Alexander
Treasurer Camielle Donaghey
Secretary Dino Willox
Members Mark Thomas, Mel Brewer, Rocky Malone, David Cleary, Samuel Walker

Service Management

Executive Director Emile McPhee
Assistant Director David Cleary

Lawyers

Principal Lawyer Matilda Alexander
Lawyers Stephen Page, Crispian Carlowe, Mona Emera, Patrick Brown, Scott McDougall, Sophia Bookallil, Tracey-McKenzie Ross, Alana Heffernan, Steve Tropolous, Mitch Hauser, Tina Riveros, Arlene Stanovitch

Service Support

Evening Coordinators Drew Lauchland, Stephanie Wong, Luke Hamlin, Andrea Stein, Mark Platt, Kathryn Cramp, Helen Hawksworth, Joanne Choy, Lia Shea
Legal Assistants James Halliday, Kathryn Cramp, Alexandra Blake, Sophie Anderson, Dylan Whinn

Former volunteers

We wish to thank everyone below who has volunteered their time, assistance and support in some way or another over the past year. Coral Logan, Donald Gunn, Clare Dart, Mark Oakman, Sarah Sutherland and Thomas Parer must be specially thanked for their enormous contributions to the Service over the past years.
Committee Coral Logan, Evie Ryder
Lawyers Donald Gunn, Clare Dart, Mark Oakmann
Evening Coordinators Thomas Parer, Samuel Lui, Sarah Sutherland, Tristan Butler-Keegan
Legal Assistants Shaleeni De Costa, Emily Ng, Nick Markov, Meganjean Shaw, Evangelia Florou, Caitlin Williams, Avalon Kent, Thomas Pepper, Neha Pandya, Jordyn Jones, Gabrielle Leibowitz, Thomas Baldwin, Cameron O’Reilly, Julia Younger, Joshua Sproule, Alicia Philbey, Nathan Burke, Clair Harrison, Damian Staveley, Isaac Douglass, Olga Hempel

Statistics & Demographics

Since commencing advice sessions in 2010, we have assisted some 366 clients, a number attending the Service more than once.  Below is a snapshot of clients at the Service over the last year.

Clients overall

Client demographic Number
Total clients 91
New clients 84
Repeat (existing) clients 7
Total appointments 108
Identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander 3
With a disability 20

Clients by age and gender

Legal issues

Problem type Proportion
Family law (unspecified) 22%
Domestic violence 14%
Discrimination 14%
Property 10%
Separation 7%
Other civil law 6%
Unfair or unlawful dismissal 4%
Change name or birth details 3%
Defamation 3%

Some words from volunteers

Thomas Pepper, QUT Legal Clinic

Last semester I undertook a placement at the LGBTI Legal Service as part of my university studies. My task involved auditing the recent client files to uncover frequently presented issues, and assessing if there were any areas that required new fact sheets to be produced and posted on the Service’s website.  While many issues already had a corresponding fact sheet, we were able to identify the need for fact sheets pertaining to discrimination, surrogacy and child custody.  We produced these publications with the guidance of lawyers who are experts in these fields.  Our clinic experience was very positive, the volunteers were welcoming and we were given the opportunity to witness a number of client interviews.  Observing experienced lawyers during client interviews and being able to ask them questions was certainly a valuable experience that I believe will be useful for my professional development.

Scott McDougall, Lawyer

Volunteering at LGBTI Legal Service is a rewarding experience.  The volunteers run this grassroots service without funding and with a deep commitment to the diverse needs of the LGBTI community.  Sadly, discrimination continues to be a blight on our society, so it’s great to be able to help LGBTI clients through the maze of the legal system.

Jordyn Jones, QUT Legal Clinic

As part of a placement unit offered by QUT, I volunteered with another student at the LGBTI Legal Service.  We wrote a paper about the legal needs of the LGBTIQ community in Queensland, modelled on the NSW report “Outing in Justice” by ICLC.  The report sought to minimise barriers by identifying the particular legal needs that LGBTIQ persons are faced with in Queensland, and to better equip the Service to adequately deal with areas of distinct need (an extract of the findings are below).  This placement highlighted the need for community legal centres in minimising barriers to persons accessing justice and giving marginalised groups a stronger voice.  Volunteering with LGBTI Legal Service during my placement was a very informative and rewarding experience.

Annexures