Women's Legal Services
Are you currently involved in a situation where you are unsure of your rights and need legal advice? Do you feel you have been discriminated against by gender, race, sexuality or religion? Are you unsure whether you are being sexually harassed? Are you facing divorce or separation? Have you been a victim of crime or suffered from domestic violence? Do you have a dispute over your child support, consumer purchases, tenancy, or debts? Have you been unlawfully dismissed by your employer? To find out what your legal rights are and to get professional advice on these and many other issues, your local Community Legal Centre can provide assistance.
Community Legal Centres are independent, non-profit organisations that provide free legal information to assist you in understanding and protecting your legal rights. They provide confidential advice and assistance to more than 350, 000 people each year from 169 individual centres nationally. Their services are aimed at assisting people in making informed choices and decisions about the options available to them. Within the legal system, they also perform important roles in court representation, advocacy, law reform, test case litigation, referrals and community legal education.
Legal centres are a good starting place to have your legal questions answered and to clarify what your rights are. Most legal centres provide generalist services and information to help you with everyday legal problems. You may be referred to more specialised legal centres that service disadvantaged groups like young people, women, migrants and aboriginal communities. Other centres are devoted to particular issues like, consumer rights, the environment, employment, tenancy, sexual assault, welfare, HIV/Aids and mental health etc. Depending on your circumstances, you could be referred to a private solicitor or your state Legal Aid body.
Centres can provide you with the information you need to resolve disputes legally or refer you to other organisations. In many cases, mediation and counselling can be an equally effective method of dispute resolution. In cases of simple workplace disputes, difficult relationship breakdowns or noisy late night parties, knowing your legal rights can give you the information you need to talk to your employer, partner or neighbour to resolve your dispute through communication. Legal action should be the last resort, used only when both parties cannot come to an agreement.
The larger centres have informative websites that detail the services they provide and answer common questions. Advice can be given by telephone, email or in person. Some centres provide after hour services. Generally you should contact the legal centre in advance to make an appointment. Many legal centres provide educational pamphlets, brochures, booklets, fact sheets, videos and other materials to assist you in understanding the law. The people that make up legal centres are often volunteers or legal professionals who work in this environment because they have a genuine desire to help the community they serve.
Visit www.lawmap.com.au for information about individual centres and their services.