Free UWS legal clinic is on the move

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by University of Western Sydney Media Unit
29/03/2011

The University of Western Sydney's Parramatta Community Justice Clinic (PCJC), a practical legal training program which provides free professional legal information and referral services to the people of Greater Western Sydney, will relocate to the Parramatta Local Court.

On 4 April, 2011, the PCJC will re-open the doors to its new home on level 2 of the court in close proximity to services such as Justice Health, the Drug Court, Sherriff's Office, Police Prosecutors and Probation and Parole.

Professor Michael Adams, Head of the School of Law at UWS, says the new location is right at the heart of where access to the service is needed most.

"The University, PCJC and key partner, Macquarie Legal Centre, are committed to providing fair and free access to legal services, information and advice for all members of the community, regardless of their educational, socio-economic, or cultural backgrounds," says Professor Adams.

"A significant number of clients have no other option than self-representation in court and are overwhelmed and underprepared for their court date. As a result, many have their matter dismissed and have to reappear at a later date, which puts even more pressure upon the courts."

The PCJC is staffed by UWS law students under the close supervision of practicing solicitors and is utilised by disadvantaged members of the community who cannot afford legal advice.

UWS law student, Christina Tabet, who has completed a legal placement at the clinic and continues to volunteer on a regular basis, has helped better prepare clients for court and made a difference to vulnerable people facing high levels of stress.

"The PCJC has helped me experience all facets of the client process and provided me with invaluable knowledge and skill that I will be able to use in my legal career," says Christina.

"During my time at the clinic, I have sat side-by-side solicitors during client interviews, undertaken research tasks and created file notes and legal documents such as affidavits."

"This is what law is really about - you get hands on experience and it's very rewarding when clients thank you."

Christina will continue to volunteer at the PCJC when it relocates to the Parramatta Local Court.

The PCJC is an initiative of the University of Western Sydney in partnership with Macquarie Legal Centre, the NSW Department of Justice and Attorney General, and Parramatta City Council. It is also strongly supported by members of the Parramatta and Greater Western Sydney legal profession, local businesses and community groups.

Establishment funding for the PCJC was provided by the Commonwealth Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).

For more information, please visit www.uws.edu.au/pcjc, or call (02) 8688 7873.

WHAT: Relocation of the Parramatta Community Justice Clinic WHEN: 10:00am, Monday 4 April, 2011 WHERE: Level 2, Parramatta Local Court, 12 George Street, Parramatta Please note: The PCJC will relocate premises and will close on Monday 28 March to Friday 1 April, 2011.


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