Pro bono I Moonee Valley Legal Service Residency Advocacy Project
13 January 2018
Homelessness is a major social issue in Australia. It is estimated that on any one night, there are over 105,000 people experiencing homelessness, and many more living in insecure housing as a result of financial and emotional hardship, family and domestic violence, and financial difficulties.
In line with homelessness being a key priority under our corporate social responsibility program, Gadens continues its pro bono partnership with the Moonee Valley Legal Service (MVLS), providing legal assistance to residents in public housing estates. Public housing tenants are some of Victoria’s most vulnerable people as eviction from public housing inevitably leads to homelessness.
Tenancy Advice Program
In October 2017, Gadens staff visited MVLS for a tour of the estate and we also hosted a training session attended by our graduates for training in preparation for their work with MVLS ‘clients. Our public housing legal clinic commenced in November 2017 and will be ongoing until at least mid-2018. Gadens staff the weekly free legal clinic providing advice, information and assistance in areas including tenancy rights, utility disputes, rental rebates and debt.
Coordinated Advocacy Program (CAP)
The Victorian State Government recently announced that the Ascot Vale public housing estate is being redeveloped. Consultation is underway to determine the final plans for the site, and residents are being contacted to provide feedback.
All residents currently living on the estate are going to be relocated by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for the duration of the redevelopment. This relocation is compounding existing issues faced by these tenants and is anticipated to lead to an increase in demand for public housing tenancy legal assistance. Gadens has implemented the CAP with MVLS, which aims to build the capacity of residents to engage meaningfully with the consultation process. Members of our Property, Construction & Planning Team have been particularly active in advising MVLS and tenants on the redevelopment process, which is expected to kick off in the first half of 2018. In December 2017, various Gadens staff members from teams across our firm collaborated to attend several consultation sessions at Ascot Vale regarding the redevelopment.
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