Delivering Community Legal Education for CALD Leaders

26 August 2021

Since March 2020, the UQ Pro Bono Centre has been involved in a partnership project with Mount Gravatt Community Centre Inc. (MGCCI) to provide a community legal education program for leaders in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities.

MGCCI is a non-profit registered charity, delivering a broad range of holistic services for the benefit of their local community. Through their work, MGCCI identified that members of the migrant and refugee community often have a limited understanding of the Australian legal system and do not know where to turn for assistance when members of the community encounter legal problems.

The program, titled ‘Law for Your Community’, was funded by the Scanlon Foundation to develop a training resource whereby CALD leaders from the migrant community could be upskilled as 'Community Ambassadors', capable of supporting their community to better understand and navigate the Australian legal system. 

Law for Your Community program participants visited the Brisbane Supreme Courts as part of their training. Image: ABC News

Five training workshops on tenancy law, debt and consumer law, family law, youth justice, and discrimination law were presented over the course of the program, which was delivered in the first half of 2021.

Drawing on its well-established networks, the UQ Pro Bono Centre collaborated with lawyers from Brisbane-based community legal centres LawRight and the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (RAILS) to be involved in the design and delivery of program content.

The training workshops were also designed in consultation with program participants to cover the type of legal problems frequently affecting members of their local communities. This collaborative approach aimed to encourage the development of the participants’ leadership skills and ensured the program was tailored to meet local needs.

“The 15 participants all agreed it was a fantastic course which provided them with the tools to identify common legal issues and solutions, and an understanding of where to obtain legal assistance.” - Mandy Shircore, Pro Bono Centre Director

Program participants concluded their training with a visit to the Brisbane Magistrates and Supreme Courts, where they met with The Honourable Justice Helen Bowskill. It is hoped that the success of the program can be replicated for future course offerings.