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Over the past years we have seen a strong increase in demand for general legal services that are of a non-criminal nature and that do not fall within the parameters of ordinary or sponsored Community Justice Group work.  In some other communities this type of work is undertaken by what are typically referred to as “community legal centres”.  These centres provide a varied range of services, the scope of which of course determined by local conditions and availability of other service providers. Community Legal Centres typically consist of administrative staff and one or more legal practitioners, who can be either employed by the centre or who provide their work on a pro-bono basis, while being employed at government departments, law offices or in individual private practice.  These initiatives are funded in different ways also, some through government grants or legal aid, some through other sources or acting entirely with volunteers and some infrastructure support.

Junkuri Laka has responded to this demand by creating our own Mornington Island Community Legal Centre.

Structure and organisation

The organisation of this activity will follow the standard model of all Junkuri Laka activities, but several circumstances required that a separate legal entity had to be formed.  This has become the Mornington  Island Community Legal Centre.

CLC Logo

There is an organisation in Queensland that occupies itself with assisting community legal centres (QAILS) and the Mornington Island CLC has become a member of QAILS.  There are several benefits to that, such as access to research and other resources, discounts on service products like liability and indemnity insurance, a certain standing in respect of compliance with the legal practitioners legislation etc.  Membership of QAILS also includes becoming a member of the national organisation, the NACLC.  In addition membership provides a forum of communication with similar organisations and therefore some comparative information on how these things are organised elsewhere.  Participating in a State-wide forum is one of the requirements of membership.  The Mornington Island Community Legal Centre is accredited under the rules of the National Association and is a fully certified community legal centre.

QAILS Logo NACLC logo

It is particularly noted that some community legal centres provide legal assistance in criminal matters as well, while others have developed specialisations, such as human rights issues or a focus on specific groups, such as indigenous people or lesbian and gay legal issues.  The Mornington Island CLC will not engage with contentious criminal work, but it will focus on the many areas of Civil Law for which there is a marked demand.

Legal assistance with criminal matters is currently provided on Mornington through ATSILS, Legal Aid Queensland and a private practitioner who is funded through legal aid (Warren Hunter Solicitors).  While these services are free for the Mornington Island residents, the quality of service provision sometimes leaves something to be desired, which is caused by the very limited time that lawyers have available to be briefed and the rather chaotic atmosphere on court days, where instructions are taken and representation takes place virtually on the same day, often in very busy and hectic court sessions.  The justice Group has thus far undertaken several initiatives to streamline legal service provision, and it will continue to do so.  This is not a role for the Mornington Island CLC.

The CLC will not engage in contentious civil matters between Mornington residents as the potential for conflicts of interest is too large and because it will impede on our mediation work.  We will also abstain from Native Title work.  In principle we will cover most other branches of civil law, and determine over time where the real needs are.

The CLC receives no government funding at this time, but we are sponsored by Junkuri Laka and by some charitable organizations.  We are particularly proud to receive financial support from the Myer Fund and the Mercy Foundation, who have recognized and acknowledged the value of our work for the Mornington Community.

Mercy Foundation Logo Myer Foundation logo