In Session 2, 2017, Macquarie Social Justice Clinic helped cases by undertaking a range of activities, including legal research and writing, client interviewing and non-legal advocacy in the social justice space. Below are some examples of the great work undertaken this year.
Students of Macquarie’s Social Justice Clinic have played an important role in developing the National Justice Project’s Copwatch initiative. Inspired by projects in the United States, Copwatch empowers Aboriginal people to use mobile phones to document instances of police harassment and violence.
Footage of police interactions can be used as evidence in court for accountability purposes and as part of broader campaigns against over policing. Students of the Social Justice Clinic carried out research into the relevant laws across Australian states and territories, and developed messages on the legal aspects relating to filming police interactions. A training program covering legal and media aspects will be rolled out nationally. Human rights lawyers and media professionals will deliver training in Aboriginal communities on using mobile phones and social media, and on the legal considerations. Workshops will focus on local partners and school children. Training materials will inform participants about their legal rights when filming police interactions and will provide practical and ethical guidance on filming using case studies from around the world. It is hoped that by encouraging people to film interactions with purpose, they will have a better chance of capturing footage and sharing their story safely and effectively. Capturing police harassment and violence on camera will highlight instances of mistreatment in Aboriginal communities.
Our partnership with the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) helps students to broaden their understanding of refugee law and to put theory into practice. At the start of each session, students are allocated a client – from a range of countries and circumstances – who is seeking asylum in Australia.
Each student researches their client’s country of origin and specific legal issues regarding their claim for protection and prepares a merits assessment to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the client’s claims. This information is used to develop a draft submission for use in the client interview with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Students gain valuable experience working in a professional legal environment with a lawyer who has extensive practical experience in refugee law.