Author Archives: Eastern Community Legal Centre

  1. ECLC’s 48th Annual General Meeting

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    ECLC was delighted to welcome over 70 partners, supporters, volunteers, guests and to its 48th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 29 November, 3pm at Manningham Civic Centre.

    ECLC officially unveiled its 2022 Annual Report, “Moments that Matter”, a key theme that resonated throughout the meeting hosted by Chairperson, Janet Matton AM. The Centre warmly thanked Jose Abalo for almost 12 years of service on the ECLC Board and reported almost breakeven financials.

    CEO, Michael Smith acknowledged the Centre’s Aboriginal partnerships and reiterated the Centre’s commitment to  being active and strong allies to our First Nation’s communities.

    Michael also shared some of the key milestones for the Centre including great work in the prevention space; the You, Me and MP’s toolkit, Hidden Voices project and the expansion of the Mabels program to Mildura etc.

    The  16 Days of Activism  was highlighted as was ECLC’s ongoing advocacy around the need for funding to be able to provide better support at the Specialist Family Violence Courts.

    The My Generation Intergenerational Art Project aimed at challenging ageism was highlighted  with a trailer of the documentary ‘Art is for Everyone’ screened.

    ECLC’s recent Anti-racism project, Amplifying Community Voices in the East was also presented. Guests were privileged to hear from Anti-Racism Advocate Eva Lam about the moments that mattered for her in the project together with a screening of the animated video, ‘Voices of Change – Action Against Racism’.

    A team of four staff presented a client story detailing a community member’s legal support journey, highlighting the important collaborative approach taken by ECLC’s intake workers, community lawyers and client advocate

    The crème de la crème was hearing first hand from Guest Speaker, Maria Dimopoulos AM about her own experiences that have shaped her life and the moments the matter.

    The AGM made its debut on Facebook live, allowing guests to attend from afar. We are pleased that we had over 35 registered attendees and the live screened vid has already been viewed over 100 times.

    If you missed out, you can watch the video here. A digital copy of the 2022 Annual Report, ‘Moments that Matter’ is also available here. An official AGM 2022 video will be available soon.

    Special thanks to Manningham Councillor & ECLC volunteer Anna Chen, Whitehorse Cr Amanda McNeill, Chris Mathieson, EDVOS CEO, Elly Taylor, Women’s Health East CEO, and all our other guests for joining the celebration in person. Thanks also to the ECLC Board  Christine Cowin, Luong Ta, Dr Guy Masters, Katherine Dowson, Tabitha Lovett, Elke Smirl and Ali Besiroglu for your continued dedication and guidance.

     

  2. 3CR Radio Broadcast ‘Done by Law

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    On Tuesday, 29th November, Belinda Lo, Director, Legal Services/Principal Lawyer and The Federation of Community Legal Centres’ Rachel Pliner were interviewed on ‘Done by Law’ regarding the Specialist Family Violence Courts.

    You can listen to the recording HERE

  3. ABC News: Victim-survivors unsafe, unsupported at family violence courts, say community legal centres

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    By Matilda Morozzi

     

    Dilal has been able to find a stable job and housing, where she is raising her young daughter.(ABC News: Matilda Marozzi)

    Dilal* knows the impact of going to court for a family violence matter with no support.

    Key points:

    • Specialist family violence courts are designed to provide care to victim-survivors
    • Community legal centres were given extra funding to provide services at the first five specialist courts, but not an additional seven courts
    • Lawyers say the shortfall is unfair and putting victim-survivors at additional risk

    The then 20-year-old had discovered she was pregnant that morning, then her husband hit her.

    Having recently arrived in Australia from North Africa, Dilal had limited English, no money and nowhere to go.

    She messaged a friend who immediately called triple-0.

    Police came and applied for an intervention order on Dilal’s behalf.

    She was told she had to go to court the next day.

    When she arrived at court alone Dilal saw her husband and all his family.

    “I felt like a sheep going to the wolves,” she said.

    In court she waited for hours, she said no one told her what was happening.

    “I was scared, I feel no support,” she said.

    “I wish I’d never come here [to Australia].”

    Dilal only had a few minutes with the duty lawyer before her case was heard — she didn’t have access to a translator or get the chance to explain what she wanted.

    “It was so fast,” she said.

    “I didn’t know what was going on.”

    The lawyer applied for, and was granted, a full intervention order, against Dilal’s wishes.

    Dilal found herself pregnant, beaten, without money or a place to sleep the night.

    There was no one at court to help Dilal figure out what to do next.

    Shortfall leaves people vulnerable

    Eastern Community Legal Centre Principal Lawyer Belinda Lo fears many other victim-survivors of family violence will be left unsafe and unsupported at seven new specialist family violence courts due to a funding shortfall.

    The centre had to turn away three people in one day last week at the recently opened specialist court in Ringwood.

    Belinda Lo says they don’t want to turn people away.(ABC News: Matilda Marozzi)

    Ms Lo said people would be put at risk if the next state government didn’t provide additional funding for lawyers.

    “We are really concerned about not being able to provide proper, holistic legal care,” she said.

    “People lose trust in the court system and then don’t engage, which creates more layers of risk and harm.

    “It is the opposite of what specialist family violence courts were created to achieve.”

    What are specialist family violence courts?

    The Royal Commission into Family Violence recommended all 14 headquarter Magistrates’ Courts across Victoria introduce specialist family violence services.

    The courts are designed to provide comprehensive care for victim-survivors of domestic abuse.

    As well as dealing with family violence cases, survivors should get help with other court cases (like criminal or tenancy matters) on the same day.

    Direct links to support services including social workers and housing, should be offered.

    press release from the state government in December 2021 said “co‑location with vital legal assistance and community services ensures victim-survivors have access to the holistic support they need”.

    Ms Lo said co-location wasn’t enough — the legal services needed to be funded to provide quality support.

    “We don’t want to provide, and should not be providing, 10-minute consultations for people who are experiencing extremely traumatic, extremely complicated and distressing legal matters,” she said.

    “But providing trauma-informed care takes time and costs money.”

    Family and domestic violence support:

    The rollout of the first five specialist family violence courts at Shepparton, Ballarat, Moorabbin, Heidelberg and Frankston began in 2019.

    Ms Lo said community legal centres servicing the courts were given additional funding to offer comprehensive care.

    A further seven specialist courts are being rolled out in Broadmeadows, Dandenong, Geelong, Latrobe Valley, Melbourne, Ringwood and Sunshine.

    But the additional funding isn’t being provided community legal centres.

    It means even though the Ringwood court has similar demand to Frankston, Eastern Community Legal Centre has not been funded for any additional lawyers, while in Frankston there has been funding for an additional three full time positions.

    “Survivors of family violence should all be entitled to the same high level of care and assistance, unfortunately that’s not the way it is with specialist family violence court services,” Ms Lo said.

    “Because the seven new courts have not had the additional recognition of resourcing, it actually discriminates against people who live in different areas.”

    Uneven funding exacerbates problems

    The peak body for community legal centres in Victoria said without additional funding for the new specialist courts, many victim-survivors would be left without any, or adequate, legal assistance.

    Federation of Community Legal Centres chief executive Louisa Gibbs said people’s safety could be put at risk.

    “Without additional resourcing community lawyers will not be able to spend the time needed with families experiencing family violence … or meet increased demand for legal support in court,” she said.

    Push for specialist family violence court in north-east Victoria

    Family violence rates are high in north-east Victoria, but there is no specialist family violence court or legal aid centre in the region.

    Read more

    The federation said the impact of the pandemic, coupled with increased demand for their services, mean community legal centre were already struggling to meet demand for the legal needs associated with family violence.

    “Community Legal Centres assisted with 52 per cent more family violence intervention order matters in 2020–2021 compared with the previous year,” she said.

    “Without additional funding the new specialist family violence courts will exacerbate this problem.”

    Ms Gibbs said properly funding legal support for family violence survivors would save the state government money in court costs and support services in the long-term.

    The Victorian government has allocated more than $16 million to the Community Legal Centre Family Violence and Assistance Fund since January 2020 to provide specialist family violence assistance.

    A Victorian government spokesperson wouldn’t say whether they would further increase funding.

    “We’re continuing to invest in preventing family violence, encouraging respectful relationships and changing harmful attitudes,” a Victorian government spokesperson said.

    The Opposition was contacted for comment.

    What good support can look like

    After going to court twice without adequate support, Dilal was put in touch with a lawyer at Eastern Community Legal Centre — Connie Chen.

    Dilal felt like she had found someone to fight for her interests, at the time she needed it most.

    The idea of other victim-survivors asking for legal help and being turned away was “shattering” for Dilal.

    “Connie was more than a lawyer to me, she was like a friend because she was asking about my mental health and even if I have a place to sleep,” she said.

    “I’m lucky that they helped me, so I wish they can help more people.”

    *Name changed for legal reasons

     

    You can read the original article here:

     

  4. Yarra Ranges community groups able to apply for multi-year funding

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    Eastern Community Centre’s ‘Hidden Voices’ initiatives was helped by Partnership Program funding from Yarra Ranges Council. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

    By Tyler Wright

    Community groups, not-for-profits and event organisers are now able to apply for funding of up to $40,000 a year through Yarra Ranges Council’s Partnership Program.

    Applications for the program opened on Saturday 1 October, with the funding stream for successful applicant flowing from 2023 to 2027.

    Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC), who was a successful applicant of the Partnership Program for 2018 to 2022, used the funding stream of $20,000 per year to provide legal advice on the ground in the Yarra Ranges and educating school children about sexting, cyberbullying and consent.

    “We’ve probably done about 14 workshops across seven schools in the last year alone on those issues across Yarra Ranges; and this funding really drives that kind of work in schools,” ECLC CEO Michael Smith said.

    Through the funding, and working alongside other community organisations, ECLC was able to respond to community need after the June 2021 storm event in the Yarra Ranges.

    “There’s always issues around insurance… the impact by the power issues, and sometimes there’s issues with neighbours and fences and things like that, but also there’s issues like family violence that might be either as a result of the storms or kind of exacerbated by that too,” Mr Smith said.

    ECLC also started their ‘Hidden Voices’ initiative this year, creating a space for sexual abuse survivors, family violence survivors and those impacted by mental health issues to tell their stories.

    Mr Smith said ECLC will be applying for the most recent Partnership Program, helping to continue work with young people in schools and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organisations.

    “We’ve actually had really smooth referral options between us, as well as doing community projects that really helped the community, so we’re looking forward to continue to do that,” Mr Smith said.

    Yarra Ranges Council is encouraging community groups to apply for funding for projects that align with the council’s Health and Wellbeing and Creative Communities Strategies.

    “Grant applications take significant amounts of time and effort – they also go through a rigorous assessment by Council staff and an independent panel, and there’s heavy competition for this funding,” Yarra Ranges Council Mayor, Councillor Jim Child said.

    “We get incredible proposals through all of our grant streams and we can only fund a fraction of these.

    “For the best chance of success, applications should demonstrate a strong alignment to Council’s strategies, meet the selection criteria, demonstrate a willingness to work collaboratively, and outline previous experience delivering Council funded initiatives. These are a must.”

    Applications for the Partnership Grant round will close on Tuesday 15 November 2022, with successful applicants to be announced in 2023.

    The first year’s funding will be delivered on 1 July 2023.

    To learn more about the application process, call Yarra Ranges Council’s grants team, or email grants@yarraranges.vic.gov.au.

    Read the original article here:

    Yarra Ranges community groups able to apply for multi-year funding

     

  5. Star Mail article – Public art project sees collaboration between young and old

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    74 year-old Croydon man Alexei Ho at the Boronia Progress Hall, where his art work made alongside five other adults over 60 and nine primary school students from Boronia K-12 College is now on display. PICTURE: TYLER WRIGHT

    By Tyler Wright

    When it came to getting involved in a collaborative art project with primary school children from Boronia K-12 College, 74-year-old Croydon resident Alexei couldn’t think of anything better.

    “Young grandchildren never spend time with their grandparents and do creative things; they talk and play, [but] that’s it,” Alexei said.

    “This is good – share ideas that we can offer society, your own community… I love it.

    If every place do the same, how wonderful the place would be.”

    Alongside five other adults over the age of 60, Alexei spent one day a week from mid-July to August at Boronia’s Progress Hall creating artwork with 14 primary school children from Boronia K-12 College as part of Eastern Community Legal Centre’s ‘My Generation’ art project.

    ‘My Generation’ was created as a way to break down inter-generational stereotypes, combat ageism and build connections within the community.

    Participants drew animals, people and patterns; the final product injecting vibrant colour into what was a dull laneway between the Progress Hall and Knox Infolink.

    Alexei has noticed visitors to the cafe at the Progress Hall who he has not seen before; attributing to the “bright” artwork made public in September.

    “It brightens the place, the place looks so young again, so open,” Alexei said.

    Boronia local and artist 71-year-old Bronwyn Hampshire thought it would be “fun” to create art with her younger counterparts when she first joined ‘My Generation’ – and the experience seemed to live up to her expectations.

    “We had to draw something, so one of [the students] drew a basketball as a head and then the other one did a football as the body…so I did snake legs and fish arms,” Bronwyn said.

    “It’s quirky art, but it really does look fantastic in the space that it’s been placed.

    I’m proud of it, and I’m sure the kids are too.”

    Boronia K-12 College Assistant Principal Cassandra Wright said misconceptions around being creative, or doing things ‘the right way’ became evident as the students began working with older people, trying something new and seeing things from a different perspective.

    “[The] workshop leader did a lot of work with them around art as an expression of self, they talked a lot about personal values, talked a lot about how we’re feeling and how art reflects how we’re feeling, and I think that lent the kids being able to have a lot of connections with the older people that they might not have seen without that,” Cassandra said.

    “Because when they talked about ‘oh, well I’m really passionate about the environment,’ and the students were ‘oh, actually, I’m really passionate about the environment, I’m really big on that, too,’ they made some connections they might not otherwise have had.”

    Cassandra said shy students were able to come out of their shells during the workshops.

    “There were a few, probably not misconceptions, but that old people struggle with mobility and things like that, whereas the older generation that worked with us, they didn’t struggle with their mobility… they were doing things, they made connections with them about walking dogs and doing all of that sort of stuff,” Cassandra said.

    For Bronwyn, more programs like ‘My Generation’ could only benefit the community moving forward.

    “Whether it be gardening projects or art projects or dancing… I think is a good thing, because there are, I’m sure, a lot of people locked away in their homes, not knowing how to interact with other people, especially if their families have moved away,” Bronwyn said.

    “If projects can be created by anybody, whether it be council, or the Knox legal services…because not only was it about the kids and the oldies, also their parents were there too for the opening day, and their parents got to meet people, and I got to talk to some of the parents of some of the kids…

    There should be more.”

    Meanwhile, Alexei will continue volunteering at Hope City Mission in Croydon and the Salvation Army, waiting for the next community project to jump onto.

    “If you do something that makes you feel good, it’s always better,” he said.

    “Kindness is a disease that spreads… everyone kindness brings happiness from small things…

    It’s priceless.”

    Partners of Eastern Community Legal Centre’s ‘My Generation’ project include The Basin Community House, EACH, Eastern Regional Libraries, Knox City Council, Knox Leisureworks, Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place (MMIGP), Swinburne University and Women’s Health East (WHE).

    “It has been an honour providing a platform for participants to work together creatively, to learn about ageism and stereotypes; and to have their work permanently decorate a walkway in Boronia and celebrated through events – has just been the icing on the cake,” Eastern Community Legal Centre CEO Michael Smith said.

    Read the original article below:

    Public art project sees collaboration between young and old

     

     

  6. Assistance for those affected by flash flooding

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    Pic credit: SES Lilydale 

     

    ECLC is very concerned by the recent heavy rainfall and flash flooding, particularly in Lilydale, Mooroolbark, Croydon, Seville, Yarra Ranges and Maroondah locations.

    While a number of our staff have been affected directly, we can confirm that ECLC’s offices have not been affected; and we will continue to serve the community through these times.

    This is in addition to ECLC’s distress at the broader ongoing flooding affecting major areas across Victoria. ECLC has been assisting its CLC partners and the Disaster Legal Help Victoria partnership to provide legal help for local communities affected.

    If you require legal support in the east, please contact ECLC at 1300 32 52 00, email eclc@eclc.org.au or visit www. eclc.org.au for more information.

    For those in the Lilydale / Yarra Ranges area, the latest information is here.

    You can also contact Yarra ranges Support agencies here or if you need food supplies, click this link

    Victoria wide support

    Here is a list of Flood Support organisations that can help you, if you have been affected by the recent floods.

    Flood Recovery Hotline is a single state-wide organisation that Victorians impacted by the October 2022 floods can call for help or assistance with:

    • navigating available supports
    • clean-up
    • temporary accommodation
    • mental health and wellbeing support

    The recovery hotline 1800 560 760 is open from 7.30am-7.30pm daily.

    For more information,  visit Emergency Recovery Victoria webpage.

    Disaster Legal Help Victoria

    If you or someone you know is in need of legal help as a result of being impacted by the flood emergency happening across Victoria, Disaster Legal Help Victoria (DLHV) can assist – helping to connect people in with the right free legal support.

    You can visit http://www.disasterlegalhelp.org.au for legal information or the details about the local community legal centre to assist.

    Disaster Legal Help Victoria can help with legal information and advice or refer you to a community lawyer near you. Call 1800 113 423 from 8am–6pm on weekdays.

    They staff speak many languages. If they do not speak your language, they can organise an interpreter.

    Have to travel?

    • If you have to travel during this time, it’s recommended that you check the latest emergency advice at www.emergency.vic.gov.au
    • You can also check the latest road conditions/closures at https://traffic.vicroads.vic.gov.au/ before you leave.

    For your safety – do not drive through flood waters. You do not know what is under the water and a vehicle can get water bogged and/or quickly washed away.

  7. Feature article on Indianlink.com.au

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    Amplifying community voices on anti-racism

    Anti-racism ambassadors to educate community on advocacy techniques and strategies to help combat racism

    In a new initiative to raise anti-racism awareness, Melbourne’s Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) is supporting culturally and linguistically diverse community leaders to become Anti-racism Ambassadors.

    It launched the ‘Amplifying Community Voices in the East’ (ACVE) program last year in partnership with the organisations IndianCare, the Centre for Holistic Health and The Communities’ Council on Ethnic Issues (CCOEI).

    The project supports community leaders by means of workshops focussing on challenging racism and sharing their voices and experiences of racial discrimination.

    While racism can be both obvious and insidious, a toxic societal disease that impacts all ages, genders, faiths and ethnicities, voicing experiences of individuals subject to racism helps others understand what’s unacceptable.

    At ACVE, the capacity building sessions were provided by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) and Democracy in Colour over the course of a year, and were developed in consultation with the leaders, providing them with knowledge on Australia’s Human Rights Framework, advocacy techniques and using their knowledge and lived experiences to speak out against racism. The participants developed strategies to help combat racism.

    Late in August, ECLC hosted an event to showcase its work on the ACVE project, coordinate a panel discussion with the ACVE Anti-racism Ambassadors, and to officially launch the Voices for Change – Action against Racism video (available here).

    A panel discussion with the five ACVE Anti-racism Ambassadors, Dr Chris Mallika Bhadra, Eva Lam, Dr. Neha Gogia (based in India), Ritu Dahiya and Houng Yu Ngee, facilitated by Saarah Ozeer from CCOEI provided the perfect platform for the community leaders to share their thoughts and personal experiences with the project and engage in dialogue with the community.

    The video offers education on what discrimination is and what a potential victim can do to address their concerns as it takes viewers through a scenario involving possible racial discrimination. The video will be available in select translations.

    ECLC CEO Michael Smith believes the project presents a great opportunity for leaders within the community to be equipped and empower others to challenge racism and amplify diverse voices across Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

    “These leaders are experts on their community and their experiences of racism. Rather than speaking for them, we’re working together to amplify their own voices and influence positive change.” “The project builds on the close connections and trust that ECLC has built with diverse cultural and faith communities over many years”, he added.

    The core focus of the video is to educate community members on how to identify and report incidents of racial or religious discrimination or vilification.

    Dilnaz Bilimoria, community volunteer for CCOEI reminded attendees of the “need to educate all Australians to stand up and speak out about racist experiences”.

    “It is our responsibility to build capacity in people to have the confidence to address these issues immediately so that victims are not disadvantaged in the community,” she said.

    Dr Bhadra believes the project presented an important opportunity to raise the issue of racism for those who may not otherwise have a voice. “I want to create a platform for people who can’t speak for themselves, as racism is a big issue. If I can just help amplify the voice of just one person, I feel something is accomplished.”

    This project was funded by a grant from the Victorian Government “to increase cross-cultural understanding and fight racist attitudes and behaviours.” The Anti-Racism Ambassadors have now completed their training and look forward to participating in other speaking events organised across Melbourne’s East advocating for change.

    Paul Hamer MP (Victorian Member for Box Hill) commended the project participants and reminded us that “combatting racism requires strong advocates.”

    “It has been great to see how the ECLC’s Amplifying Community Voices in the East program has been able to build the capacity of community leaders from our culturally diverse communities to become Anti-racism Ambassadors,” he added.

    Under Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act, and Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act, it is unlawful to engage in acts involving racial or religious vilification. If you believe you have been subject to racial abuse, VEOHRC can help. The Commission can offer you free information about your rights and help you to resolve complaints within their jurisdiction. If you need extra help, they can refer you to the right organisations or guide you in the right direction.

     

    You can read the original article here 

  8. Star Mail – Community art project in Boronia breaking down stereotypes

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    By Tyler Wright

    Artists both young and old are coming together to combat ageism and build a diverse public art project to be displayed in the Boronia township.

    The Eastern Community Legal Centre’s ‘My Generation’ initiative has joined primary school children in year levels four, five and six from Boronia K-12 College with those aged over 60 years old, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents aged over 50 years of age, to create a collaborative series of artworks and documentary film.

    Drawing and painting activities held as part of the art workshops each week from Wednesday 13 July at Boronia’s Progress Hall will culminate into a larger display between Progress Hall and Knox Infolink, alongside painted bricks and decorated rubbish bins.

    “I think we’re looking for something really joyful and eye-catching to lighten up the space and brighten up the space a bit,” Lead Artist and workshop facilitator Alisa Tanaka-King said.

    “I imagine it will feature some themes around connection in nature,” Alisa said.

    Other common themes that have arisen through collaborative painting and drawing activities include family, the environment and climate change.

    “We’ll all be working off the same piece of paper or someone will be drawing something and then passing it along so then someone adds to it,” Alisa said.

    “The artwork never really belongs to one person. It reflects elements of everyone’s bits that they’ve added.”

    “We’ve done some portraits and we’ve also done some creating of creatures and monsters that everyone adds to,” Alisa said.

    And then this week, we’re also talking about symbols, and the importance of symbols and communicating messages, and what symbols we might be using, or wanting to look at, to use in the artwork.

    People are also making their own flags as a personal reflection of what they they stand for and represent.”

    Boronia resident and mosaic artist Suzy Lyons joined the ‘My Generation’ project after seeing a post on social media about the initiative and thought it would be a great way to be involved in the community after owning her house in Boronia for 20 years.

    “We’ve lived here for a very long time and I love working with children, I was an integration aide for quite a few years, I’ve worked on a summer camp over in the US as an art teacher. So the thought of working with kids again, actually was what probably interested me the most, because I love inspire them and see what they can do,” Suzy said.

    Suzy said she is “blown away” at how intelligent the primary school children she works with are; knowing about large topics such as climate change and the environment.

    “The things that they talk about is quite mind blowing, to be honest,” Suzy said.

    “It’s been really fun. And we haven’t been given the whole picture yet, so I’m not really understand understanding how the outdoor artwork is going to evolve. But as we go week to week, I can see the collaboration of everybody adding just a small piece to something bigger. And I suspect that that’s what’s going to happen.

    “I’m a mosaic artist, mostly, so I’m feeling like this is really interesting process, because we’ve been doing a lot of drawing,” she said.

    Lead Artist Alisa said connecting young primary school students with those in their community over 50 helps break down stereotypes around how a person in an older age bracket may act or what their needs may be.

    “There’s not a big conversation around elder abuse yet, I don’t think I think it’s not something that a lot of people are aware of,” Alisa said.

    “It’s been noted that one of the key drivers is ageism, and ageist attitudes, and throughout all our communities we see so many ageist attitudes. even unintentionally.

    I have all sorts of preconditioned ageist attitudes within myself that I’m not even aware of, and they’re not intentionally malicious, but they are there, because that’s what society tells us.”

    And I think projects like this, to try and give a voice to older members of the community and build relationships with other members of the community is really important and trying to stop that, so that we’re not making assumptions about what older people want and need and believe in, and actually give them the opportunity to tell us themselves.”

    Alisa said since the workshops began in mid-July, children have been asking their older companions personal questions like “how are your chickens going?” or “how was your partners birthday?” and older participants are remembering conversations, even knowing one particular young student’s inspiration was to be a Ballerina.

    “If [the children] then see [older participants] in the street or in a shop they’re likely to say hello and connect and care about their well being in a different way to if those connections weren’t made,” Alisa said.

    “I think that’s where really engaging other people in the community with relationships in an intergenerational way is so important, because that’s what will slowly, slowly change those attitudes.”

    Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) has partnered with The Basin Community House, EACH, Eastern Regional Libraries Boronia branch, Knox Council, Knox Leisureworks, Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place, Swinburne University and Women’s Health East to create ‘My Generation’.

    A public film screening event of the ‘My Generation’ documentary featuring various participants will be screened on 29 August or 30 August (date TBC) from 6:30pm to 8:00pm.

    For more information on the Eastern Community Legal Centre’s work on elder abuse, phone 1300 32 52 00, email eclc.org.au or visit https://eclc.org.au/what-we-do/partnerships-and-projects/elder-abuse/rose-rights-of-seniors-in-the-east/

    If you or anyone you know is experiencing elder abuse, you can contact 1800ELDERHelp (1800 353 374) or 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

     

    Read the original article here

  9. Radio Eastern – Amplifying Community Voices in the east (ACVE) Interview

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    On the 13th July 2022, ECLC’s Anti Racism advocates from the Amplifying Community Voices in the East (ACVE) project were interviewed on live radio. The two advocates Eva and Ritu had the opportunity to share their heart about the Anti-racism project, ACVE. Capella Henderson, the Project Lead was also interviewed with the pair.

    You can listen to the recorded interview here. Special thanks to host, Richard Arthur from Radio Eastern 98.1FM  

  10. Canberra Times – Charities free to speak up

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    Canberra Times/By: Jenna Price

    [New assistant minister Andrew Leigh has removed the gag preventing charities and not-for-profits from speaking out on public policy issues. Picture: James Croucher]

    There were good people in the Coalition government, I am confident. Especially those who stood up for their beliefs in public – Bridget Archer among them.

    But there were others who behaved so badly, it’s hard to forgive. Take, for example, Sarah Henderson – once the member for Corangamite, but dumped by her electorate before being transmogrified into a senator by her party. The height of her career was her appointment as assistant minister for social services, housing and disability services between August 2018 and May 2019. Somehow, though, she decided to take it into her own head to monitor the activities of charities, who under the Coalition were forced into silence. Charities had to abide by a gag rule – don’t advocate, don’t criticise.

    Tug your forelock and all will be well … completely gobsmackingly undemocratic. And don’t get me started on the way international aid organisations and others were bullied to within an inch of their lives. Australia should always be very mindful of its privileged status in the world.

    And what organisation should come into Senator Henderson’s sights? The Parenthood, part of a network fighting for changes to childcare and preschools. That work did not go down too well with Sarah Henderson, the shadowy minister for hectoring activists. OK, that wasn’t her actual gig, but that’s certainly what she did when her team was still in power. She wrote a 26-page letter to Australia’s charities and not-for-profits commissioner, Gary Johns, which said the group should be disqualified from charitable status for a breach of the Charities Act. She claimed The Parenthood was touting for Labor. And poor old Georgie Dent, The Parenthood’s executive director, had to deal with this entire waste of the organisation’s meagre resources, while at the same time assisting the NSW Treasurer, most assuredly a Liberal, with developing plans for free universal preschool.
    But now Henderson’s sneaky behaviour – or that of anyone else who wants to dob against democracy – will no longer be of any interest to anyone. Charities across Australia can breathe a giant sigh of relief, because the new Assistant Minister for Charities, Andrew Leigh, is scrapping the gag rule and promising no-one will ever lose their charitable status for speaking out.

    I have never ever heard a man as happy in the service as Leigh. Honestly, the enthusiasm for his new work is wild. He says the Coalition waged a war on charities. It tried to stop anti-poverty charities from speaking out on inequality. It tried to stop environmental charities from speaking out on climate change and deforestation.

    “They tried to muzzle some of the best-informed voices speaking out about our most vulnerable. They tried to treat them like naughty children, seen and not heard,” he says.

    And how will he feel when they start to criticise Labor (because trust me, that will happen)?

    Leigh says: “It is very important we have a principle that charities can criticise [government]. Of course, I would rather have nice things said about our government. But if they are critical of our government, that’s not going to affect their ability to deliver services.”

    Whereas being starved of funding really did. You can only deliver for those who need you if you have the right resources. Wouldn’t it be glorious to have a government which wanted to support charities to do the best work possible?

    So Leigh’s appointment to his job is good news. The removal of the gag clause is good news. Sarah Henderson’s powerlessness is good news. And the best news of all might be that Gary Johns quit his post one hot minute after the election.

    Andrew Leigh promises, cross his heart and hope to die, that he never even spoke to Johns, the man who seemed to love monstering charities. Johns took the election result as a sign of things to come. I’m a bit disappointed no-one got to sack him.

    Dent, of The Parenthood, says the gag on advocacy was very intimidating, and Henderson’s actions terrified her.

    The thing is, the Coalition never wanted to engage on issues such as support for families. How else do you get your message out to the community if not through advocacy when politicians won’t agree to meet you? I mean, it’s not as if Dent was advocating for blowing up Juukan Gorge or sending thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The Parenthood was advocating for families.

    And of course, anyone who did advocate to save the planet was quickly brought into line. John Grimes, chief executive of the Smart Energy Council, says when his organisation sold wheelie bin stickers which showed prime minister Scott Morrison and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce holding coal with slogans that said: “Bin him” or “Chuck them out”, it was swiftly told to stop or lose its charitable status.

    “The Coalition did not like our message or that we were prepared to call them out on not having a climate policy or an energy policy. It was such a potent message and they wanted to shut that down,” he says.

    And what about the end of the gag rule?

    “Democracy has been restored. I congratulate the government on an important, principled decision. Charities should be able to advocate for important causes and for the disadvantaged … it is their role and their right,” says Grimes.

    For years, Michael Smith, chief executive of the Eastern Community Legal Centre in Melbourne, ignored the gag clause. He was, among others, a tough advocate for funding for his sector, which provides legal support for those who can’t fund their own. My god, the CLCs were at the forefront of helping those being hunted down with robodebt.

    “That was an obvious, glaring and tragic example, and the government did not want to be told,” he says.

    Even in its death days, it did not want to be told.

    So how good is it that Andrew Leigh, who has long advocated for pulling off the gag, has done it within the first month of government? No wonder he’s so happy in his work. He confides: “I’m loving it. None has ever wanted it more than me.”

    It’s glorious to have a politician who loves his work; who wants to move us from a nation of “me” to a nation of “we”.

    The original story can be found here