Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Intersex Legal Service Inc.

Annual Report 2017

 

Download this annual report (PDF, 2.1 MB)

Acknowledgements

This Annual Report (Report) covers the period of 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 and has been presented at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Intersex Legal Service Inc. Annual General Meeting on 11 November 2017.

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, particularly Drew Lauchland, Eliza Sullivan, Wil Alam, Thomas 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 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. Up until 1 July 2017 we were unfunded, relying entirely upon volunteers, fundraising and donations.

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 Portfolio, 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 that 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.

2017 Reports

The LGBTI Legal Service is pleased to present the following reports for the 2016-2017 year.

President’s Report

This financial year has seen the biggest change in the history of the Service. We have finally achieved government funding and have entered into our first three year funding agreement under the community legal services program. We were so excited when the announcement of inaugural funding was made in March 2017. After seven years of our volunteers’ passion and persistence, we will finally have funds to expand our services to regional areas, undertake significant casework and roll out some very exciting projects with our partners. This core funding will enhance and build our current contribution to community and ensure the legal needs of LGBTI people are able to be addressed more thoroughly.

We have also received a funding grant from Legal Aid Queensland to produce a resource for trans kids at schools. This funding facilitates a partnership between Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ), LGBTI Legal Service and Legal Aid Queensland to deliver resources letting kids know about their rights regarding uniforms, bathrooms, preferred names and other burning questions essential to their well-being and mental health.

At our birthday celebrations last year, I spoke of decades of delay in addressing LGBTI needs and the fact that for many years there has been a silent closet surrounding issues affecting our community. This year we have seen many community organisations and government departments start to directly consider policy and procedure to make sure that LGBTI people are included and considered in service delivery.

In particular, we are having ongoing dialogue with the police, prison administrators, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability and Department of Education about the development of policy and procedure to ensure systemic changes to improve our community’s interaction with government.

Once again, the Service was nominated for significant awards at the Queen’s Ball and it was an honour to see all of the work showcased in our community on this night. We were particularly touched to hear a strong tribute to our former Management Committee member, Rocky Malone, on this night, acknowledging her passing and her life’s work.

During the year, I have spoken at many events on behalf of the Service, including at UQ and QUT where I addressed students about the need for human rights lawyers to consider LGBTI issues. I spoke at the State Library of Queensland and ADCQ’s video to mark 25 years of anti-discrimination law, explaining the impact on LGBTI people.

I was also asked to speak at a local high school as part of their professional development day, where I addressed the legal issues for LGBTI students. This presentation has lead to many further opportunities and ideas, such as speaking on this same topic at a Legalwise seminar, and at the first LGBTI Legal and Regulatory conference in Melbourne.

We have participated in events such as a forum regarding transgender people in prison and provided training on the same to community groups engaged in counselling this population. I have also provided training regarding working with LGBTI clients for legal professionals, including the bar practice course.

There has been a growing recognition of the need to address domestic violence in the LGBTI community and I have spoken at forums and in the media on this issue, including on the Big Ideas Radio National program. It has been encouraging to see LGBTI domestic violence mentioned in important government efforts such as the Not Now, Not Ever report, which confirmed what we have been saying about DV: it is equally present in our community but it is comparatively under reported, under researched and under responded to. I am confident this is something that we can continue to work with stakeholders to address over the coming year.

As can been seen in the report of Thomas Clark below, this year our Service has continued to advocate for law reform, so successfully that many of the items on our wish list have been achieved thanks to the commitment of the Queensland Government. I have been regularly active in the media, ensuring these changes are celebrated and welcomed appropriately.

Throughout all of this, we have kept advising clients of their rights, maintained vital networks with Out for Australia, Community Legal Centres Qld and our pro bono partners, producing useful community legal education materials.

We have come so far, all on volunteer time and commitment. I honour each and every person who has contributed to making the LGBTI Legal Service the vibrant and essential part of our community it has become and I look forward eagerly to this next, funded stage of our activities. Congratulations on a sparkly, momentous year everyone!

Matilda Alexander

Treasurer’s Report

See Annexure.

Jack Nolan

Executive Director’s Report

Thanks to the hard work of our President and Directors, I can thankfully keep my report short.

As is evident, this has been an exciting year for the LGBTI Legal Service, and seen the biggest changes and successes since our inception. Those successes span each and every aspect of the Service, from the announcement of funding to increase delivery, to law reform projects which have come to fruition as well as community outreach.

While I thank each and every one of our volunteers, past and present, I also wish to thank the Management Committee for their tireless efforts across this busy year, and all on a volunteer basis. 2018 will be an exciting year, and I look forward to continuing to see the Service grow and thrive.

Emile McPhee

Law Reform Director’s Report

As mentioned in the report of Matilda Alexander above, this financial year has seen the Service experience significant change and the Law Reform Portfolio has been no different. This year we have seen something particularly special – the Service successfully achieved the last two of its original reform goals arising from Resilient Individuals: Sexual Orientation Gender Identity & Intersex Rights 2015 report; the removal of the gay panic defence and the expungement of past criminal convictions for consensual homosexual interactions.

On 21 March 2017, the Queensland Government passed the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2017 (Qld) to amend section 304 of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld) removing the ability of the court to consider non-violent sexual advances as a mitigating factor of provocation. There was significant misunderstanding in the public about the effect of these new laws but the Service successfully explained their intention to the extent that the Attorney-General, Hon Yvette D’Ath, quoted our submission before Parliament in the first reading of this Bill.

On 10 October 2017, after years of work, the Queensland Government passed the Criminal Law (Historical Homosexual Convictions Expungement) Bill 2017 (Qld) to provide an administrative scheme for people to expunge their wrongful convictions for consensual homosexual interactions before these archaic laws were abolished in 1991. The passing of this bill included the historic apology from the Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, on 11 May 2017 saying, “You have been maligned and shamed, and for that we say sorry and express our deep regret for the trauma that you may have suffered.” The apology was amazing to witness and a privilege to be invited by the Premier and Attorney-General to attend on behalf of the Service.

While our reform projects are centred on Queensland, it is hard to leave out one of the biggest national issues of this year. The campaign for Marriage Equality has brought LGBTI issues to the forefront of the Australian public’s mind and the Legal Service is honoured to do its part. In particular, however, we thank Service’s Management Committee member, Peter Black, who as the Queensland Director of the Yes Campaign has tirelessly fought for equality, especially through this period.

We also can’t finish off this year without highlighting the Service’s community legal education. As mentioned in the report of Matilda Alexander, our Trans@School resource is well under way thanks to a significant grant from Legal Aid Queensland. The Service also continues to develop toolkits for Indigenous Australians and victims of domestic violence within the LGBTI community, as well as maintain our popular fact sheets. This year has also seen Service volunteers conduct several training sessions with different stakeholders ranging from community groups, law firms, schools, government to other community legal services.

The future of reform in Queensland looks bright as the Service plans to undertake an audit of this states remaining discriminatory laws. This, coupled with the headway we have made on important projects such as the removal of the court requirement for stage 2 consent applications for transgendered young people and the removal of discriminatory provisions from the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2003 (Qld), leaves us feeling excited for the coming year.

I also take this opportunity to thank the different organisations we work with as it is with their generous support that we are able to complete a lot of our reform projects. In particular, Allens Linklaters and Clayton Utz as well as the Human Rights Law Centre, Community Legal Centres Qld, Caxton Legal Centre and the Brisbane Lesbian and Gay Action Group.

I especially thank all of the volunteers, particularly those within the Law Reform Portfolio, who are the heart and soul of the Service. Our achievements are because of their work. It is an exciting time for the Service and I commend everyone on all the amazing things that have been achieved this year.

Thomas Clark

Operations Director’s Report

As mentioned in the report of Matilda Alexander above, this year has been an historic year for the LGBTI Legal Service.

Community Engagement

The Operations Portfolio has continued to push for community engagement and awareness through attendance at events and stalls such as:

  • The Sunshine Coast Pride Festival 2017
  • International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2017
  • Brisbane Trans Fair Day 2017
  • UQ Queer Week 2017
  • QUT Queer Market Day 2017
  • Brisbane Pride Fair Day 2017
  • Brisbane Marriage Equality Rally

Further initiatives

The LGBTI Legal Service finally attained government funding this year and entered into our first 3- year funding agreement. To celebrate this, the operations team held a ‘Thank You Drinks’ event, to thank our volunteer solicitors, evening coordinators, law reform team, general volunteers and of course supporters in the wider community.

As mentioned in the report of Thomas Clark above, this year has seen Marriage Equality become one of the biggest national issues of 2017. The campaign for Marriage Equality has brought LGBTI issues to the forefront of the Australian public’s mind. Accordingly, the Operations team coordinated an on the ground campaign attending various universities to ensure voter registration before the AEC designated deadline. This initiative helped many people register or update their voter details in exchange for LGBTI Legal Service merchandise. Concurrently with this initiative, the Operations team ran an on the ground Marriage Equality Photo Petition campaign which brought about awareness to the issues proponents of marriage equality advocated for during the Marriage Equality Postal Survey period.

Lastly, the Operations Portfolio continued its commitment in engaging with youth organisations and ran a successful ‘Rainbow Fundraising Trivia’ event with university organisations such as the Justice and the Law Society and the University of Queensland Law Society.

Community presence

In addition to the above, the Operations Portfolio has sought to also increase a presence from LGBTI Legal Service representatives at wider community events through coordinating attendance at events and initiatives such as the Queensland Law Society Annual Ball 2017, the 56th Annual Queen’s Ball Awards and the CLCQ State Conference 2017.

Social media presence

The Operations Portfolio has sought to continue the growth of the Service’s social media presence— driving growth of approximately 65% in the Service’s Facebook presence from 2016 to 2017 (a growth of approximately 2,000 likes to 3,000 likes). The Service has used this platform to engage in social media campaigns such as the ‘Vote For Us Queens Ball Awards’ campaign which saw our Service and volunteers receive award nominations and also saw our Management Committee member Peter Black win an award for Activist of the Year.

In addition to this, the Operations Portfolio has ensured that the Service has used its large social media platform to engage in a ‘Marriage Equality Social Media Campaign’ which propagated the spread of self-designed graphics and posts raising awareness and urging members of the greater community to vote yes to during the Marriage Equality Postal Survey.

The Operations team has also ensured that the Service used its large social media platform to acknowledge and promote awareness of particular days of importance to the LGBTI community such as, inter alia, International Coming Out Day, Intersex Awareness Day, Bisexual Visibility Day and Wear It Purple Day.

Some future initiatives

The Operations Portfolio has initiated the groundwork for developing an LGBTI Legal Service Newsletter which will provide regular updates about:

  • CLC media updates
  • Information about LGBTI Legal Service client services
  • Successes/stories of particular volunteers or LGBTI individuals in the greater community
  • Information about upcoming LGBTI Legal Service initiatives/events

The Operations Portfolio has also initiated the process of streamlining the Service’s branding through the development of new social media branding, new letterhead templates and more. The Operations Portfolio looks forward to working closely with the Management Committee in further developing this aspect of the Service.

We have begun to develop stakeholder relationships with various law firms and organisations in order to run partnered events in the future. In addition to this, the Operations Portfolio aims to host more internal networking/social events as a medium for volunteers to mingle, meet and develop a stronger sense of community in the LGBTI Legal Service.

End note

The Service has many people to thank this year. I would like to give special thank you to Mitch Hughes, our Management Committee member and Senior Evening Coordinator, for helping the Service through its IT endeavours and especially for shifting the Service’s internal operating system to a more modern arrangement. I would of course also like to thank the Management Committee, Directors and our volunteers for their tireless hard work in helping the Service achieve many outstanding goals this year.

I thoroughly look forward to seeing everyone at the LGBTI Legal Service’s Christmas Party later this year.

Wil Alam

Our year in pictures

Our people

Management Committee

President Matilda Alexander
Treasurer Jack Nolan
Secretary Eliza Sullivan
Members Andrew Lauchland, Andrea Stein, Peter Black, Jack Longley, Mitch Hughes

Service Management

Executive Director Emile McPhee
Director (Operations) Wil Alam
Director (Law Reform) Tom Clark

Lawyers

Principal Lawyer Matilda Alexander
Lawyers Arlene Stanovitch, Claire Nolan, Clare Dart, Diane Wright, Ellie Bassingthwaighte, Emma Aldersea, Gillian Welsh, Giri Sivaraman, Jordyn Jones, Julia Marler, Kate Fuller, Kate Volk, Klaire Coles, Kris Birch, Patrick Brown, Phylli Verrall, Shannon Chen, Sophia Bookallil, Timothy Cunningham, Travis Finter

Service Support

Senior Evening Coordinators Drew Lauchland, Jessica Davidson, Jack Longley and Mitch Hughes
Evening Coordinators Annalise Spurge, Isaac Fisher, Tamara Christiansen, Tristan Butler- Keegan
Legal Assistants Eliza Sullivan, Dan Murphy, Thinh Vu, Marlena Litchfield, Dylan Houghton
Law Reformers Alastair Page, Annalise Spurge, Charleton O’Brien, Christina Meyers, Connor Costigan, Harry Turner, Jack Longley, Katharine Bligh, Lewis Tracey, Michael Kretowicz, Odette Malpas-Haussmann, Priyata Pal, Robyn Stevens, Rose Catherine Barrett, Thomas Klepper, Tom Hayward
Stakeholder Relations Eliza Sullivan

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.

Supporters

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

  1. Queensland AIDS Council;
  2. Caxton Legal Centre and CLC Queensland (particularly James Farrell and Cathy Baker);
  3. Human Rights Law Centre (particularly Anna Brown and Lee Carnie);
  4. Allens Linklaters, Clayton Utz, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Minter Ellison and McCullough Robertson; and
  5. countless others who have offered their time, resources or support to assist the Service.

Online Outreach

We hit 3,000 Facebook followers

and 700 Twitter followers

Client Services Review

The LGBTI Legal Service has maintained a consistent level of clients who access the Service for legal advice, with 157 advices given, and we expect to see strong increases in this number now that we have obtained funding and are able to employ a full time solicitor.

One of the difficulties encountered (and not just in the last year) is that many of the clients who telephone the Service require legal advice ‘now’. Despite the extraordinary contributions of our volunteer lawyers, it has not always been possible to provide immediate advice. In these circumstances, clients have had to be referred to other community legal centres and private lawyers.

The Service has moved away from a ‘drop in’ advice sessions. The lawyers who volunteer for us invariably specialise only in certain areas of the law. It became difficult for the Service to accommodate a client ‘dropped in’ about a criminal law matter and there were no criminal lawyers available. For that reason, the Service moved towards appointment-based consultations so clients could be booked in on an evening when a lawyer was available to deal with their matter.

Without specifically dealing with any one case, listed below is a synopsis of the nature of the matters that have been dealt with by the Service in the last financial year:

  • Division of property, including assistance with the preparation of Family Court applications, affidavits, gathering of evidence, consent orders
  • Separation and children, including advice on parenting plans and applications for parenting orders, assistance in the preparation of parenting plans and applications and affidavits for parenting orders
  • Sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace
  • Unfair dismissal
  • Numerous instances of discrimination in the workplace and assistance in preparing complaints to the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland
  • Other sources of discrimination including retail outlets and government authorities
  • Issues relating to the payment of wages or salaries, including assistance with preparation of applications to the Fair Work Commission and the Magistrates Court
  • Advice in relation to the preparation of wills and powers of attorney
  • Disputes involving deceased partners and their families
  • Domestic violence applications
  • Advice regarding change of identity and change of identity documents
  • Neighbourhood disputes and advice regarding the preparation of peace and good behaviour applications
  • Criminal matters involving assault, grievous bodily harm, drug and utensil possession and indecent behaviour
  • Surrogacy and sperm donation
  • Applications to QCAT for debt and residential tenancy matters
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Defamation
  • Complaints against police
  • Small commercial matters including sale of business and commercial leasing
  • Purchase of residential property and mortgages
  • Caveats
  • Privacy

The above list is not exhaustive, but demonstrates that the advices given by the Service are varied and wide. The largest category of growth was in employment law, which doubled from the previous year. The overall composition of legal advice provided is as follows:

We noted that at 18 advice sessions, the clients identified as trans, up from two sessions in the previous year. Similarly, six indigenous advice sessions were conducted, an increase from the previous year’s four recorded sessions. We recorded an increase in the percentage of sessions provided to disabled clients who accessed the Service, and a decrease in the percentage of clients who identified as low income earners.

In order to provide the legal advice, we have relied solely on the efforts of a team of dedicated lawyers who volunteer their time on Wednesday evenings (and often at other times) to assist our clients. Without their input, the Service would simply not exist.

Equally, the Service could not operate without our team of dedicated evening coordinators. Any legal service relies upon reliable and dependable administration and that is precisely what the volunteers have provided.

We sincerely thank them for the invaluable contributions each volunteer makes in ensuring the Service provides access to justice for the LGBTI Community.

Drew Lauchland, Mitch Hughes, Jack Longley and Jess Davidson
Senior Evening Coordinators

Annexure

Treasurer’s Report

This Treasurer presents this report for the financial year ending 30 June 2017, as required under the Association Incorporation Act 1981 (Qld). An audit of the Service’s financial position is attached to this Report.

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

This year has marked the first in which the Service has ever received government funding. This is a momentous occasion in the history of the Service, and will have an incredible impact on the work we are able to achieve moving forward. This past year’s financial reports do not reflect the changes this funding will have, due to the timing of the first payments.

I take this opportunity to note that regrettably I am not re-nominating for the role of Treasurer in 2018 as I am relocating out of state and will be unable to continue in this role. I would like to thank all members of the Management Committee and all volunteers I have worked with over the past two years. I have been fortunate to work with a diligent, supportive, and passionate group of people who each dedicate enormous amounts of their personal time to further the goals of the Service. The aforementioned funding is well deserved and serves as recognition of the incredible work that has been done by volunteers. I have the utmost confidence in the Management Committee of 2018 and beyond, and am grateful to have had the opportunity to play a small role in the Service for the past three years.

[signed]

Jack Nolan, Treasurer

Date: 10 November 2017

[Financial Report by Crowe Horwath attached – please download the full annual report (PDF, 2.1 MB)]