Currently housed at ACON, the HIV/AIDS Legal Centre (HALC) will soon look to extend their hours, and possibly their office space, to provide a new, once-a-week after-hours service for positive people in need of legal advice.
Staffed predominantly by volunteers, it will be a difficult process unless more legally-minded members of the community can be encouraged to get involved, one of the organisation’s volunteer solicitors, Lucy Gray, told Sydney Star Observer.
Covering areas as diverse as medical rights, immigration, vilification and housing tenancy issues, HALC continues to be a one-stop shop for local and rural positive people, and a wealth of hands-on legal experience for young solicitors.
Issues of privacy and disclosure continue to be key points of concern for people accessing the service, Gray said.
We’ve been trying to start a policy project to find out if there should be a privacy tort and whether that would actually be useful. It could make it easier to sue someone for disclosing your HIV status and perhaps make it easier and less time-intensive than going before the Privacy Commissioner, she explained.
She added that the organisation has plans to update their information material and develop clearer guidelines on the rights of people charged with intentionally infecting others.
We’re looking into the possibility of moving into a new space, but of course it might be difficult, Gray said.
We need to find a suitable place that isn’t too exposed so people can feel comfortable coming in.
A nighttime service is something we’ve also been thinking about, to make sure that people who work or who are travelling from outside the city can still access our services.
Like all of our services, it would rely on volunteers giving their time. We tend to have a pretty high turnover of volunteers and we’re always looking for people.
Gray said her own experience with the organisation had provided invaluable opportunities.
Volunteering with an organisation like HALC is so rewarding, particularly for young lawyers. You can go work at a major law firm and end up spending your time filing or you can come work with us and have some real hands-on experience helping people.
info: For more information or to volunteer visit halc.org.au.