Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Intersex Legal Service Inc.

Annual Report 2016

 

Download this annual report (PDF, 1.7 MB)

Acknowledgements

This Annual Report covers the period 2015 to 2016 and has been presented at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Intersex Legal Service Inc. Annual General Meeting on 10 December 2016.

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

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 acknowledges and thanks the contributions to this Report from members and volunteers of the Service, and particularly Drew Lauchland, Eliza Sullivan, Lia Shea, Tom Clark and Jack Nolan for their contributions to this Report.

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 is staffed entirely by volunteers.  The team of around 40 includes:

  1. the Management Committee;
  2. the Executive Director;
  3. two Directors:
    1. Operations; and
    2. Law Reform; and
  4. 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.

2016 Reports

The LGBTI Legal Service is pleased to present the following reports for the 2015-2016 year.

President’s Report

The LGBTI Legal Service was incorporated in 2009 after a need was identified within the LGBTI community for a specialised community legal service.  We provide information, legal advice to vulnerable lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and their friends and family in Queensland.  We operate on Aboriginal land and acknowledge and pay our respects to the traditional custodians of the land.

The Service celebrated 6 years of the operations this year, with a sold out event at the Banco court featuring the one and only Honourable Michael Kirby.  I was honoured to hear this wonderful man speak and recognise the work of the Service.  He is an inspiration and a fountain of wisdom and I am sure everyone attending went home richer than they came.  Thank you to Lia Shea for her fantastic organising of this event.

Last year I wrote that we have come a long way in relation LGBTI rights but we have a long way to go.  I talked about the homosexual advance defence allowing a plea of provocation in cases of non-violent sexual advance, the stigma of historical homosexual criminal offences, adoption prohibitions for same sex couples and inequalities in the age of consent for sex.  All of these legal issues have been progressed this year and the LGBTI Legal Service has had a proud role to play, drafting submissions, conducting media interviews and appearing in parliamentary inquiries.  We now have access to adoption, an equal age of consent and bills before parliament to change homosexual advance defence and expunge historical convictions!  We can feel proud to have been a part of this change.  Congratulations to Tom Clark for his hard work on law reform this year.

LGBTI legal needs are under researched and are notably absent from the mainstream considerations of legal needs.  Population-based surveys that directly ask questions about sexual orientation or gender identity are scarce and recent.  The lack of targeted research does not mean that these legal needs do not exist.

LGBTI people face disproportionate stigma, marginalisation, bullying, harassment and violence often due to their sexuality and/or gender identity.  There is a substantial delay in the provision of targeted and appropriately adapted public policy reflecting the needs of the LGBTI community in public and community service delivery.  For example, there is a need for targeted policy addressing domestic violence in the LGBTI community, an issue we have focused on this year.  There are insufficient services to meet the needs of LGBTI people and a lack of cultural competency around issues of sexuality and gender identity.

The DV Family Violence Benchbook states:

There is however a disproportionate number of LGBTIQ people who experience poorer health than other groups in the Australian community, in particular mental ill health and suicide, which may be due to their fear of or actual discrimination, ‘outing’, violence, abuse, or exclusion. Research also identifies a greater prevalence of other risk factors for LGBTIQ people including more harmful and frequent use of alcohol and other drugs, homelessness and poverty, disengagement from schooling, and chronic health disorders.

These are the reasons why our service exists and why our work is ongoing.

I would like to thank our hard working volunteers for committing their time to the Service.  I would like to thank our Executive Director, Directors and committee for their hard work throughout the year.  Thank you to QuAC for providing us with a professional and accessible space.

I look forward to another year of working with our community towards a goal of real equality and respect.

Matilda Alexander

Treasurer’s Report

See Annexure.

Jack Nolan

Executive Director’s Report

2016 has been a year of awards, events and law reform for the LGBTI Legal Service.

We were all honoured and excited to see the LGBTI Legal Service named as the Community Support Group of the Year at the 2016 Queen’s Ball Award.  The Queen’s Ball, held by Pride, is a longstanding awards night recognising contributions to the LGBTI community in Queensland, and awards voted for by the community.

In August, we hosted our 6th anniversary party, with keynote speaker Michael Kirby.  To say the event was a success does it an injustice.  We sold over 200 tickets and raised over $4,000 for the Service.  Among the guests were a number of politicians, including Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath, judges of a number of Courts, various directors and executives, students and public and, most importantly, volunteers.

Hearing Michael Kirby speak is a true privilege, and his support of the Service is enormously appreciated.

My sincerest thanks go to Lia Shea for organising the event and helping to make it such a success.

The Queensland government has been particularly active in law reform around LGBTI issues this year.  We have seen amendments to:

The LGBTI Legal Service is very proud and thankful to have been able to provide input into each of these reforms, from preparing consultation papers to making submissions and appearing before Committees.

I thank the Queensland Government, and in particular Premier Palaszczuk and Attorney-General D’Ath, for delivering these outcomes and continuing to work to better the lives of the LGBTI community in Queensland.

I similarly thank Tom Clark for his tireless work on these, and also the various community education activities he coordinates.

This year has also seen us apply for Queensland and Commonweal legal assistance service delivery funding for 2017 to 2020, the outcome of which is expected by March 2017.  Obtaining funding would allow the LGBTI Legal Service to consolidate its work and start significant expansion, both in client delivery and community education.

As always, I will finish my report by thanking each of our amazing volunteers, both past and present.  In particular this year, I thank Andrea Stein for her amazing contribution to the clients of the Service and wish her all the best in her legal career.  I also thank Drew Lauchland and Jessica Davidson for stepping up so willingly to ensure that our clients continue to receive the best service available.

I look forward to working with everyone in 2017 and the exciting opportunities it presents.

Emile McPhee

Our people

Management Committee

President Matilda Alexander
Treasurer Jack Nolan
Secretary Eliza Sullivan
Members Lia Shea, Tom Clark

Service Management

Executive Director Emile McPhee
Director (Operations) Lia Shea
Director (Law Reform) Tom Clark

Lawyers

Principal Lawyer Matilda Alexander
Lawyers Stephen Page, Crispian Carlowe, Mona Emera, Patrick Brown, Scott McDougall, Sophia Bookallil, Mitch Hauser, Arlene Stanovitch, Amy Chestnutt, Diane Wright, Shannon Chen, Faileen James, Kate Volk, Kris Birch, Emma Aldersea, Dash Paudyal, Jordyn Jones

Service Support

Evening Coordinators Drew Lauchland, Jess Davidson, Jack Longley, Wil Alam, Mitch Hughes, Tristan Butler-Keegan, Tom Loveday
Legal Assistants Wil Alam, Eliza Sullivan, Jess Davidson, Priyata Pal, Annalise Spurge, Prashilta Naidu, Tom Clark, Connor Costigan, Jocelyn Bosse, Michael Kretowicz, Kathryn Cramp, Madeleine Gifford, Bowen Harding, Nick Comino, Sophie Ryan
Law Reformers Wil Alam, James Bakker, Rose Barrett, Katharine Bligh, Paul Conrad, Connor Costigan, Jordan Donaldson, Thomas Habel, Tom Hayward, Tom Loveday, Thomas Klepper, Michael Kretowicz, Odette Malpas-Haussmann, Christina Meyers, Katie-Lea Mills, Jack Nolan, Charleton O’Brien, Jeannette O’Reilly, Alastair Page, Annalise Spurge, Eliza Sullivan, Lewis Tracey, Harry Turner, Judy Zhou

Former volunteers

We wish to thank everyone else who has volunteered their time, assistance and support in some way or another over the past year.  Most importantly, we recognise the amazing contribution by Andrea Stein as Director (Client Services), who took on one of the most intense roles within the Service and helped it flourish.  We wish Andrea every success as she starts her career in the law.

Supporters

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

  1. Queensland Aids Council (QuAC) for the ongoing use of their space and resources;
  2. Caxton Legal Centre and CLC Queensland (James Farrell) for their never ending support;
  3. Anna Brown (HRLC) for her mentoring and guidance in law reform;
  4. Allens and Minter Ellison, Clayton Utz and McCullough Robertson for pro bono support and graciously sharing their knowledge and resources;
  5. The Friendly Geek, for their assistance in developing our new website and bearing with us through that process; and
  6. countless others who have offered their time, resources or support to assist the Service.

2,700 Facebook followers
(up 1,000!)

646 Twitter followers

Statistics & Demographics

Since commencing advice sessions in 2010, we have assisted over 600 clients, a number attending the Service more than once.  Below is a snapshot of clients at the Service over the last year.

Key statistics

83% of clients are financially disadvantaged.  30% identify as having a disability.  3% identify as Indigenous.

There has been a 310% increase in advice delivered by Service since the first year we opened.  In the 2016 we have seen over 160 clients.

Employment, discrimination and family law are our biggest problem types, totalling about 65% of total advice

Clients demographic

 

2015-2016 2014-2015
Clients 163 148
Identify as trans 8% 1%
Indigenous 4% 2%
With a disability 25% 20%
Low income (<$35,000 pa) 44% 36%

Legal issues

Notes: “Family” includes parenting, property and other family disputes; “Other” includes administrative law (4%), wills and estates (2%), trans (4%) and other (4%).

Volunteer reflection

Alastair Page, Law Reform

I am a third-year law student who has been volunteering at the LGBTI Legal Service since mid-2016. The Service has offered me various opportunities that have allowed me to develop my skills, and foster both my professional and personal interests.  The Service does invaluable work by addressing the lack of information around LGBTI issues in Queensland, and I have had the unique opportunity to research issues that I would not have otherwise encountered whilst studying my law degree.

Creating an educational resource about legal rights for transgender school children has been the highlight of my volunteering experience. Working on the trans kids resource has taught me how to present information in a way that is accessible to the public.  I will have the chance to further develop this skill, as volunteers will be undertaking more in-depth research on the rights of LGBTI school children, and creating a more comprehensive educational resource soon.

The Service has also allowed me to undertake a leadership role, which consists of editing an educational resource regarding LGBTI Indigenous people. I have found that the people who volunteer at the Service are very supportive, and are passionate about their work; they plan various events throughout the year to promote equality, raise money, and facilitate community engagement with LGBTI issues.

My volunteering experience has even helped to broaden my possible career path; learning about the lack of legal protections for particularly vulnerable groups in society has fostered my interest in pursuing anti-discrimination law after graduation.  My experience at the Service has been overwhelmingly positive, and I would wholeheartedly encourage other students to volunteer with us in the future.

Annexure

Treasurer’s Report

This treasurer presents this report for the financial year ending 30 June 2016, as required under the Association Incorporation Act 1981, for level 3 reporting.

The association keeps financial records in a way which properly records the association’s income and expenditure and dealings with its assets and liabilities.

With assets less than $20,000.00 and total revenue less than $20,000.00 the Service does not require an auditor’s report. However, a full audit was carried out this year for funding reasons and as such has been included below.

The Service acknowledges and is grateful to Crowe Horwath and in particular to partner John Zabala for completing this audit on a pro-bono basis.

Signed by Treasurer

[signed]

Date: 7th December 2016