Author Archives: Eastern Community Legal Centre

  1. 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 or visit

    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

  2. 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  

  3. 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

  4. Radio Eastern FM – My Generation Interview

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    On the 15 June 2022, ECLC had the privilege of being interviewed by Radio Eastern FM‘s Tricia Ziemer who spoke to Kate and Jill about our exciting new project called My Generation.

    My Generation is a Rebel Art Project that seeks to challenge Ageism by connecting student (aged Year level 4-6) with community members aged 60 + (or 50 + for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants).

    You can listen to the recording here below:


  5. Youth Hub – Hidden Voices

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    Challenging the stigma of sexual assault

    Jade grew up in the Yarra Ranges and is a sexual assault survivor. She recently spoke at the Hidden Voices project where she used her experiences of trauma and assault to challenge the stigma that sexual assault survivors experience.

    This article in three points

    • Jade is a young woman from the Yarra Ranges who is passionate about addressing the stigma around sexual assault, motivated by her own experiences.
    • She recently spoke publicly about her experiences which she says were very empowering.
    • Jade hopes to continue telling her story to other young people and believes that open and honest conversations about sexual assault are the key to getting rid of the shame and stigma that sexual assault survivors experience.

    Trigger warning – This article discusses instances of child sexual assault.

    The Hidden Voices project by the Eastern Community Legal Centre recently brought together eight people to share their powerful and inspiring stories to members of the public in events around the Yarra Ranges.

    Jade’s history of sexual assault began when she was 13 years old. Not only did she experience significant mental trauma and physical impacts, but it also impacted her relationships with other people as she grew up.

    She would ignore other instances of assault because they were behaviours that she believed to be normal. This continued after she turned 18, where she experienced further instances of rape.

    For Jade, telling her story to a group of strangers gives her an enormous sense of power over her experiences and those who raped her.

    She gets to take control of her story and use it to help educate others about consent and overcoming trauma.

    While it has been a long journey for Jade, involving counselling and other mental health support, she is now eager to keep having the conversation.

    “It was a slow process at first and I found it hard to talk about my trauma. It was only through working with a therapist that I started to feel a positive effect when discussing what I had experienced.”

    “The first time I spoke about it at Hidden Voices was really empowering. It was the first time I’d ever talked publicly, and to strangers, about my life.”

    “My journey is also happening at the same time as Grace Tame and the #MeToo movement creating really important public discussions about their experiences with sexual assault. It’s all based around having the courage and determination to talk openly about sexual assault – and for other people to have to courage and compassion to want to listen and reflect.”

    “The discussions that we are seeing shows how big a problem sexual assault is and how much it occurs. It truly helps people in our community to hear that others have had similar experiences.”

    Finding empowerment through discussion

    “Experiencing sexual assault doesn’t make you weak or damaged. You are strong. I spent a lot of time thinking I was weak, but sexual assault doesn’t define you, only you get to do that. That is what empowerment is.”

    “I find that people want to respond to these kinds of discussions in a range of ways and that’s the really powerful thing about it. The more people that speak up about it, the more discussion it creates and influences more people to speak up. That has the biggest effect on breaking the stigma around sexual assault.”

    Jade says it’s really important to have safe spaces for people to tell their story. The Hidden Voices project did a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure that the people telling their stories at the sessions felt safe and supported.

    “Being able to talk about your experiences gives you ownership and control over your own story. Sexual assault is about taking power and control away from you, so a big part of the recovery process is finding ways to reclaim control.”

    “Being able to tell my story is a great way of finding my own source of power. Knowing that I am helping others to navigate their own experiences or helping to normalise these discussions in our community makes me feel even more powerful.”

    Future goals

    Now that the Hidden Voices project is wrapping up, Jade hopes to keep the discussion going.

    She is currently studying to be a counsellor, so that she can help others who have experienced similar trauma in their lives.

    She is also keen to work with schools to educate young people about sexual assault and consent.

    “I really want to speak to young people and share my story. When I was young, I had no idea about consent, or what it looked like in practice.”

    “I didn’t realise at the time that I was being sexually assaulted, because I didn’t understand consent. It’s not just a yes or no, and a lot of young people are not clear on it.”

    “I believe that having a young person with lived-experience delivering education and information to other young people would have a really beneficial impact on their understanding of consent, and further reduce the stigma that sexual assault survivors experience.”

    Get support

    If this article has caused any distress, please consider getting in touch with the following:

    For sexual assault support, please contact:

    Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (ECASA) – 9870 7330
    24 hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line – 1800 806 292
    1800RESPECT – 1800 737 732

    For free and confidential legal advice:

    Eastern Community Legal Centre – 1300 325 200

    Other support services

    Lilydale Youth Hub – 03 9757 8777
    Headspace Knox – (03) 9801 6088
    Kids Help Line – 1800 55 1800
    Lifeline – 13 11 14
    13YARN – 13 92 76
    Switchboard Victoria

  6. Star Mail Weekly – Yarra Valley locals are sharing their stories and breaking through societal barriers

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    Yarra Valley locals are sharing their stories and breaking through societal barriers

    Yarra Valley locals are sharing their stories and breaking through societal barriers

    By Tyler Wright

    Storytellers with varied life experiences and backgrounds have started sharing their stories to help other community members feel seen and heard as part of the ‘Hidden Voices’ initiative throughout Lilydale.

    Eastern Community Legal Centre has sourced storytellers from throughout the Yarra Ranges with help from organisations such as Anchor, Inspiro, Cire, Box Hill Institute and local council.

    Martina Eaton, member of the LGBTQI+ community and a survivor of domestic violence, was involved in the first two sessions and was grateful to have the chance to share her story; at first interrupted, and then engaging with attendees.

    “You don’t often hear about people in same sex relationships experiencing family violence…it doesn’t discriminate,” Martina said.

    “It’s been really hearing for me to be able to be able to tell my story…my title is ‘I’m here, I’m queer and I’ve conquered my fear.”

    There were five speakers at the first Hidden Voices event Lilydale Community House Martina attended on Tuesday 10 May, who had the chance to engage with community members about their life experiences.

    “There are people who are carers, people who are volunteers and people who are living with disabilities, people who’ve experienced sexual assault, family violence and suicide…it’s a really good process for us to process our own stories,” Martina said.

    Shek Kho takes the role of carer for her adult son on the Autism spectrum, and although her son was born in Australia, has still struggled navigating the NDIS as a migrant from overseas.

    “I went through a very stressful journey. [Having] experienced that, I would like to support other carers and advocate and build awareness to a lot of carers,” Shek said.

    “My intention in joining these Hidden Voices sessions is to build awareness to carers in the community and also advocate for people with a disability.”

    For Shek, caring for family members comes naturally, but it was at Yarra Ranges Regional Museum on 30 May that she first publicly shared information about her journey as a carer.

    “It also gives me the confidence and acknowledge that I’m on the right track.”

    The last Hidden Voices session will be held on Thursday 9 June at Lilydale Library starting at 1:00pm.

    “A few carers, upon hearing about this project, have registered to come to the last one,” Shek said.


    You can read the original story here

  7. Star Mail Weekly: Boronia set to be home to a public art project fighting ageism

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    Boronia set to be home to a public art project fighting ageism

    By Tyler Wright

    A new community art venture will kick off in Boronia in June in an effort to bring people of all ages together to combat ageism.

    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 diverse, intergenerational public art project.

    “ECLC are honoured to host My Generation and trust that this creative venture will foster better connections in the community, challenge ageism and bring different generations together in Boronia,” CEO Michael Smith said.

    “We believe this intergenerational project is an excellent forum to foster diversity, inclusivity and connectivity among community members,” he said.

    Primary school children in year levels four, five and six from Boronia K-12 College will be connected 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.

    Activity projects will take place within the Boronia Township with the venue still to be confirmed. My Generation is funded by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions – Office for Suburban Development – Suburban Revitalisation Program and is supported by the Boronia Revitalisation Board and the Victorian Government.

    Residents are encouraged to submit an expression of interest form on the Eastern Community Legal Centre website and call 1300 325 200 for more information.

  8. Choice Magazine: Scams targeting multicultural communities on the rise

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    Advocates call for boost in anti-scam measures to protect Australians in diverse communities.

    By: Jarni Blakkarly

    Need to know
    Scam losses in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities are up by 60%
    Experts say diverse communities may be less likely to report scams due to a culture-related sense of shame
    Advocates are calling on banks to do more to combat scams and protect victims

    Living on a disability support pension, it took Gewa (not her real name) years to save up $4000, which she planned to spend to travel back to her home country of Myanmar to see her elderly mother one last time.

    Gewa’s plans to travel were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and when a friend in the Burmese community told her about an investment opportunity last year, she thought she could grow her savings while she waited for borders to reopen.

    Gewa, who is in her 60s and lives in Melbourne’s western suburbs, fell for what turned out to be an investment scam. She lost all her savings after she got a friend to help her transfer the money. Her other friends in the Burmese community also fell prey and lost thousands.

    I lost everything I had, I was feeling very depressed and it hit me very hard

    Gewa, a Melbourne resident originally from Myanmar, who was scammed

    “I lost everything I had, I was feeling very depressed and it hit me very hard,” she tells CHOICE, through a Burmese translator.

    Gewa’s bank initially refused to refund her the money she lost. But after some pressure from the WEstjustice community legal centre, which included escalating a complaint to the Australia Financial Complaints Authority, the bank eventually came around.

    Banks’ responses inconsistent

    Joseph Nunweek, the legal director at WEstjustice’s economic justice program, says the response from banks varies greatly when it comes to reimbursing people who’ve been scammed.

    “Gewa is one of the lucky ones,” he says. “Some banks have been willing to consider the unique hardship and risk exposure circumstances that customers like Gewa face, others have just endlessly kicked the can or not been responsive.

    “It’s a pity that we don’t have consistent approaches across the industry and that people have to hope they chose the right bank for when something goes wrong.”


    You can read the Original story here