The St Kilda Legal Service is consistently involved in law reform, policy and research. Some of our recent submissions and projects are listed below:
Submission in response to the Religious Discrimination Bill 2019
St Kilda Legal Service’s submission in response to the Government’s proposed “Religious Freedom Bills” focussed on the potential impacts for vulnerable members of our community, including LGBTIQ people and sex workers.
Whilst we support the premise that people should not be discriminated against because of their religion, we have significant concerns that the Bill, as drafted, will undermine current anti-discrimination leaving people at risk.
Amongst other recommendations, our submission specifically addressed the following:
- lack of protections within the workplace under proposed section 8(3)-(4);
- the ability for health practitioners to refuse to provide care and treatment to patients on the basis of their religious belief under s8(5)-(6); we see this as an unnecessarily broad approach with the potential to leave vulnerable patients at risk to their health; and
- the attempts to override other state and federal laws in relation to discrimination under s41.
Submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System
The Victorian Government is currently undertaking a review of the mental health system in Victoria. St Kilda Legal Service has contributed to this process in a number of ways.
Together with our LGBTIQ Legal Service, we welcomed the opportunity to make a submission in response to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. Our research and casework experience has found that the mental health of LGBTIQ people is among the poorest in Australia.
On this basis, our recommendations focused on:
• support for the development and expansion of peer-led, integrated services;
• training for all practitioners and workers in the mental health system;
• fostering a community of practice for LGBTIQ specialist mental health practitioners; and
• LGBTIQ applicant and respondent workers for family violence matters at all courts.
You can read our submission here.
St Kilda Legal Service also contributed to the submission of the Federation of Community Legal Centres (FCLC). As a result of our case work and research, we provided information to the FCLC on:
• the impact of homelessness and the mis-identification of family violence perpetrators for people living with mental illness; and
• the importance of including legal services in an integrated service delivery in order to deliver better health and justice outcomes for people living with mental illness.
You can read the FCLC’s submission here
Before the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Royal Commission were finalised, St Kilda Legal Service provided feedback to the Victorian Government on important themes to be included in the TOR.
You can read our submission in response to the proposed TOR here.
Submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission
National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces
The St Kilda Legal Service submission to the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces focused on the experiences of the LGBTIQ community. Our submission drew on the LGBTIQ Legal Service sexual harassment survey conducted from December 2018 to January 2019, and learnings gleaned from our LGBTIQ Legal Service casework.
In summary, through our casework and research we found that:
• to date, the focus of investigation and responses to sexual harassment in the workplace focuses on heteronormative forms of sexual harassment (predominantly cis-gendered men harassing cis-gendered women);
• the experience of the LGBTIQ community in relation to sexual harassment in the workplace has its own unique characteristics;
• sexual harassment can and does occur in all workplaces and volunteer-based organisations, including within LGBTIQ organisations; and
• sexual harassment involving LGBTIQ people requires a nuanced and peer-led response.
You can read our submission here.
We also had had an opportunity to review Victoria Legal Aid’s submission “Change the Culture, Change the System: Urgent Action needed to End Sexual Harassment at Work” and support its recommendations. We are also a signatory to the joint statement “Urgent Actions Needed to Stop Sexual Harassment at Work,” which was co-signed by over 100 organisations and individuals including a number of LGBTIQ community organisations, including the Drummond Street Services, Switchboard and Thorne Harbour Health.
Submission to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Committee
Inquiry into the External Oversight of Police Corruption and Misconduct in Victoria
This submission outlines the concerns of the St Kilda Legal Service in relation to the current system surrounding complaints about police misconduct. Our experience has shown that where our clients, and particularly our most vulnerable clients, have a legitimate complaint about police misconduct, their complaints are often either unsatisfactorily dealt with, or go unmade.
Law Council’s Justice Project
In response to the LGBTI People Consultation Paper prepared by the Law Council of Australia, the St Kilda Legal Service prepared this submission outlining the current lack of LGBTI-specific legal services in Victoria.
The Victorian Government’s Public Housing Urban Renewal Program
In 2017, the Victorian Government announced plans to redevelop nine public housing estates. The New Street site in Brighton is one of the housing estates identified for redevelopment.
The St Kilda Legal service lodged the following submissions outlining our concerns with the Program. Firstly, that at a time of housing crisis, only a 10% increase of public housing has been proposed. Further, we are also concerned about the process of consultation, relocation and the intention of government to remove third party appeal and notice rights through proposed planning changes.
Standing Advisory Committee – New Street, Brighton Estate
On 14 November 2017, St Kilda Legal Service instructed Counsel (Robert Forrester) to appear and present submissions at the hearing of the Standing Advisory Committee.
Submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry
This submission was lodged on behalf of a coalition of 7 community legal centres
- SKLS submission to Sex Work Regulations 2016 consultation
- SKLS submission to the Access to Justice Review
Victoria Law Foundation’s Community Legal Centre Research Fellowship
St Kilda Legal Service community lawyer, Jacinta Maloney was awarded the 2013 -2014 Victoria Law Foundation’s Community Legal Centre Research Fellowship. As part of the research fellowship project Jacinta investigated peer education and paralegal programs, both in Australia and overseas. Jacinta explored how these programs can empower communities. She visited organisations in South Africa, Hungary, Cambodia, and the Philippines, including organisations providing peer education and paralegal programs for sex workers in South Africa and for prisoners in the Philippines. In Australia she explored peer programs such as those of Harm Reduction Victoria, a peer-based organisation educating people who use drugs on harm reduction strategies.
You can access a copy of Jacinta’s paper here: