The Pro Bono Impact

Our 2021 update

Welcome to our 2021 UQ Pro Bono Centre update

Foreword from Professor Rick Bigwood, Dean and Head of School

Following a year of new challenges, 2021 brought both renewed activity and challenges to both the University and the Pro Bono Centre. However, thanks to its experience pivoting to remote activities in 2020, the Pro Bono Centre was able to continue to switch flexibly between modes of operation to continue to offer UQ law students a wide variety of pro bono opportunities and experiences. Student numbers on the pro bono roster remained high, with several new partnerships being developed both within Queensland and internationally.

The work of our passionate UQ Pro Bono Centre students continues to have an impact. Throughout 2021, students have provided direct legal assistance and casework support in the community, in addition to completing various research and law-reform reports for our partner organisations, including as part of the Centre’s ongoing relationship with the Papua New Guinea judiciary. Two international virtual internships were successfully carried out over the Summer Semester period with partner organisations in Laos and Hong Kong.

Notably, the Pro Bono Centre participated in UQ Giving Day on 20 October 2021 and came in at 11th place (out of 33 registered causes) with donations totalling $48,996.00. These funds will allow the Pro Bono Centre to extend its activities into rural, regional and remote areas of Queensland by increasing its project roster work and placements outside of major cities. On behalf of the Centre and the TC Beirne School of Law, I extend our gratitude to the donors who make this important work possible.

I would also like to acknowledge and sincerely thank the Centre’s Patron the Honourable Justice Peter Applegarth, Mr Randal Dennings, Chair of the Advisory Board, and Advisory Board members for their support and guidance. Finally, thank you to the academic staff who assist in supervising the Centre’s many projects, and, of course, the students themselves richly deserve to be thanked for their dedication and commitment.

I wish all of our pro bono partners and supporters the very best for 2022.

Profile photo of Professor Rick Bigwood.

Professor Rick Bigwood
Dean and Head of School
TC Beirne School of Law

2021 statistical snapshot


scales of justice

179 law students successfully placed in 46 pro bono tasks

scales of justice

28 pro bono partners received our assistance

scales of justice

25 opportunities to produce legal research papers or contribute to law reform submissions

scales of justice

45 law students volunteered for direct legal assistance and casework support

Pro Bono Publico Award presented to Sarah Hamid

Pro Bono Publico Award recipient Sarah Hamid with Pro Bono Centre Advisory Board Chair Randal Dennings.
Pro Bono Publico Award recipient Sarah Hamid with Pro Bono Centre Advisory Board Chair Randal Dennings.

The Pro Bono Centre Advisory Board was thrilled to present the 2020 Pro Bono Publico Award to UQ graduate Sarah Hamid at the Law School this year.

The Award recognises Sarah’s exceptional contribution to the community through her pro bono legal work, which included participating in several of the Pro Bono Centre’s longstanding programs, presenting to Brisbane high schools through the Law Education and Outreach program, undertaking law reform and policy research through the Manning St Project, contributing to the UQ Deaths in Custody Project, and completing a placement with LawRight in the Clinical Legal Education program.

Virtual summer internships in Southeast Asia

Although the pandemic has continued to cause disruption to the legal and education sectors, the Pro Bono Centre and our partners have continued to ensure that pro bono services are provided to the community and that student learning opportunities do not suffer, despite the continuing challenges of Covid-19 throughout 2021.

UQ Law students and staff take part in the Pro Bono Run for Justice.
Students and staff take part in the Pro Bono Run for Justice.

After the success of our 2020/2021 summer semester programs with BABSEACLE (Laos) and Future Law (Sabah, Malaysia), we once again worked with overseas partners to offer two virtual placements over the 2021/2022 summer semester. In addition to BABSEACLE, we offered a virtual placement with the Hong Kong Justice Centre focusing on human rights law.

A total of 30 students were enrolled over the two placements, with support from New Colombo Plan Funding. Although the students were again unable to travel this year, the virtual placements proved to be a rewarding experience for our students. Students received training and assisted our partners with casework and project work. Their experience was also enriched by engaging in cultural activities such as the Pro Bono Run for Justice (an initiative championed by BABSEACLE), cooking classes, and a celebratory dinner.

“The staff were generous with their time and offered to connect outside of the training sessions if we had questions or wanted to talk more about a topic. The course is designed to help you succeed and get the most out of the experience. Take the chance and go for it!”

Transnational Perspectives in Law Students

Read more about the student experience in LAWS5233: Students experience holistic legal practice with Justice Centre Hong Kong internship

CALD leaders benefit from community legal education

In the first half of 2021, the UQ Pro Bono Centre partnered with the Mount Gravatt Community Centre Inc to deliver community legal education training workshops to leaders in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities as part of the ‘Law for your Community’ program funded by the Scanlon Foundation.

The Centre Director, along with lawyers from LawRight and RAILS, presented five workshops on tenancy law, debt and consumer law, family law, youth justice and discrimination law, designed to cover the type of legal problems frequently affecting members of the local communities. The course concluded with a visit to the Magistrates and Supreme Courts and a meeting with Justice Bowskill.

“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

Student work making an impact for the profession

Students’ work for Aged and Disability Advocacy (ADA) Law completed was featured in a Queensland Community Legal Centres training webinar. The students developed resources for health and legal practitioners around health decisions (‘Whose Decision Is It’) and a research paper examining human rights and health decisions.

The Centre Director assisted ADA Law lawyers to present the webinar to a registered audience of over 150 participants. The work of the pro bono students and the benefits of partnering with the UQ Pro Bono Centre was highlighted in the presentation.

Supporting women’s rights in Queensland

Women’s rights are an important focus for the Centre, and projects addressing issues of family and domestic violence are of significant interest to our law students. Throughout 2021, UQ Pro Bono Centre students completed projects with several community organisations including producing literature reviews and position papers.

As a result of their dedicated work for state-wide peak body Ending Violence Against Women Queensland, UQ Pro Bono Centre students were invited to attend the Queensland Coercive Control Network Dinner at the Queensland Parliament attended by Queensland government representatives and taskforce members.

drawing of mother with baby

“It was an honour to be in a room full of such passionate and committed women advocates. Their speeches, stories and poetry were inspirational and I was proud that we were able to contribute to these important law reform efforts.”

Nina Sarapa
UQ Pro Bono Centre student

Read the report on Reproductive Rights and the Religious Discrimination Bill and other student publications at Pro Bono Publications.

Providing practical experience for UQ law students

We continue to partner with a wide range of community legal centres to offer UQ law students of the most diverse clinical legal education programs in Australia. Our legal clinic placement course remains popular and 2021 was no exception, with all 45 places filling each semester.

Our students and partner centres demonstrated flexibility and resilience in the face of ongoing restrictions and lockdowns. Placements moved between virtual and in-person delivery across the year, and feedback from students and partners was exceptional despite these challenges.

“I believe this subject has been one of the most valuable across my degree by equipping me with a number of practical skills to use in future work or pro bono activities and allowing me to learn more about CLCs and their clients. I was genuinely inspired by the dedication of the staff I met at Caxton to access to justice for the most disadvantaged and marginalised members of the community.”

Mitchell Riggs
Clinical Legal Education student

Latest UQ Pro Bono Centre news and events


Support the UQ Pro Bono Centre

The kind donations of our supporters enable the Centre to continue to help the most disadvantaged in our community to access justice and teach our students the value of pro bono work.

Give today