A free legal service for GLBTI people has been set up in West Heidelberg.

Last week the West Heidelberg Community Legal Service announced it would offer a GLBTI-specific legal service staffed by gay and lesbian lawyers.

The legal service’s principal solicitor Scott Ashley said the service was encouraged by the Queensland legal service launched by former High Court Judge Michael Kirby last year.

“We … thought now’s the time for us to do it as well,” Ashley told the Star Observer.
The move follows the release of a report by the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) which called for more targeted legal aid for GLBTI people and recommended data be collected by community legal centres to monitor GLBTI-specific cases.

The report also called for a legal service, especially designed to assist GLBTI clients, to be established.
“The PILCH report came out and we felt it was time to move,” Ashley said. “We wanted to get the ball rolling in terms of drafting this service onto an existing system, so we can produce cold hard data.

“But it’s not just about that. The people involved want to start providing a gay and lesbian legal service for members of the community where they can come and speak to someone they know understands their cultural needs.”

Ashley said the service will be understanding of GLBTI community needs and is in the process of trying to include a trans-friendly lawyer.

So far two concurrent half-hour appointments will be available from 3pm on weekdays and the service is available for health care card holders or youth.

info: Visit www.communitylaw.org.au

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