Essendon Community Legal Centre
Clients attending the drop-in services are provided with generalised legal advice or referral on most matters, however casework is generally not undertaken. Assistance with basic forms, documents and letters may be provided.
Clients attending appointments may have casework performed on their behalf by an ECLC lawyer, however the extent of this will necessarily be limited. We may undertake most Magistrates’ Court criminal matters, however more serious or time-consuming matters may be referred out or staff can assist with an application for Legal Aid.
Our lawyers are specifically experienced in family law matters, intervention orders, fines, minor criminal and neighbourhood disputes. Varying forms of assistance are available for clients attending appointments, depending on the precise nature of the matter and the current caseload of the attending lawyer. Specialised matters such as wills, probate, power of attorney, employment, immigration and some others are referred out beyond basic advice and assistance with forms.
Clients are encouraged to attend the Centre for generalised legal advice in all areas to ‘point them in the right direction’, or to obtain initial consultation and assistance or appropriate referral information.
FREE LEGAL ADVICE AND REFERRAL
The Centre provides four legal advice and referral sessions:
Monday night 6.30pm - 8.30pm Drop in: first come first served
ECLC (13a Wingate Ave, Ascot Vale)
Tuesday morning 9.30am - 12.30pm Appointment only.
Wednesday Afternoon 2.30pm – 5.00pm Youth drop in or appointment only.
Niddrie Community Hub
(3-15 Matthews Ave, Niddrie)
Thursday evening 5.00pm - 7.30pm Appointment only.
Legal advice on Monday nights is provided by qualified legal practitioners, who volunteer their time to the Centre. The Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday legal advice sessions are attended by qualified legal practitioners who are employed on a part-time basis.
The attending lawyer may choose to provide advice on the spot, assist with the preparation of documentation and/or letters, or refer the client to a private practitioner or another legal service. In some instances staff lawyers will be able to take on the client’s case, and in others funding from Legal Aid may be arranged. The course of action will be at the lawyer’s discretion.
Non-legal volunteers manage the reception area, sit in on client interviews, assist the lawyers as required, provide back-office support, and generally help with the administration of the service.
Unfortunately we are unable to provide legal advice by email or over the telephone.
Who Can Use the Service
The Centre was established primarily to provide legal services to people who live, work or recreate in the wider community of Moonee Valley, and so priority will be given to these people.
All services are free, regardless of the type of problem, although if clients have resources to fund private representation, they may be referred out. In cases of conflict of interest we will refer the other party to another centre or service whenever possible.
Quality of Work
The fact that the service is free has no impact on the quality of the service. Accurate and helpful advice and referral services are provided by qualified legal practitioners, and operate in a welcoming, non-judgmental and informal environment.
All clients enjoy complete confidentiality. Discussion outside the Centre of a client’s legal matter undermines this principle and jeopardises the integrity and credibility of the Centre.
Community Legal Education
"Our focus is on educating people about the law, to hopefully prevent legal problems happening and then if they do, to give people information and skills on how they can actively participate in solving them."
(Amanda George, Annual Report 1989/90)
The Essendon Community Legal Centre is committed to the principle that information is a right. Information allows the community to make informed decisions about their legal rights and responsibilities.
Community legal education is essential to meeting the legal needs of our community and takes our work into the community. It is also more cost effective than on-on-one service delivery because it introduces people to the legal system and empowers them to pursue their rights.
Our casework service informs our community legal education. Who walks in the door, and who doesn't, guides the Centre's community legal education priorities. Accordingly, community legal education is a means of providing information to those members of the community who do not regularly use the Centre.
For example, the Centre sees very few young people, so the Centre produced a legal rights card for young people (the "Get Smart Card") and organised a "Youth Rights Day". Workers from the Centre regularly speak at workshops organised by agencies who work with young people to inform about legal issues and options relevant to young people.
The ECLC is happy to discuss and plan running a workshop with your community group. Areas of interest often include powers of attorney, wills, neighbour disputes and family law matters. Please contact the CLE & Law Reform Officer Tim Bloxsome on (03) 9376 7929 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org