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Prepared to help

Briefs

Cite as: Jan/Feb 2010 84(1/2) LIJ, p.12


Bushfire Legal Help (BLH), established in response to last February’s devastating Black Saturday blazes, will continue to be available during the 2010 bushfire season after authorities predicted another hot summer would create tinderbox conditions throughout Victoria.

As the first anniversary of Australia’s worst ever natural disaster looms, practitioners are able to volunteer to provide pro bono service to anyone affected should another disaster occur.

Late last year, LIV staff and others involved in the 2009 BLH response effort planned for and put structures in place in anticipation of any further demand this year.

This planning included the development of an online registration form for volunteers, processes to facilitate the flow of information to volunteers and a review of information currently available for volunteers and clients.

BLH was created when a group of legal service organisations united to provide pro bono legal support to victims and survivors following the deadly 7 February 2009 fires which killed more than 170 people.

More than 580 legal practitioners have volunteered their time and expertise free of charge since Black Saturday and the BLH phone line has received more than 2600 calls since being established on 11 February.

LIV Membership and Marketing general manager Sue Woodman said the BLH service would be continued due to warnings that the risk this fire season would be similar to that of last year.

“The LIV thanks all members for their tremendous support last year in assisting with the Black Saturday emergency efforts and we thank all those who may volunteer to be on stand-by should their help be needed again this bushfire season,” Ms Woodman said.

Ms Woodman said members of the profession could volunteer their assistance via an online registration form available at www.liv.asn.au/About-LIV/Members-Disaster-Relief-Assistance or by contacting LIV Member Services on ph 9607 9506.

The form allows volunteers to nominate areas of law in which they can assist in dispensing advice and if they are available to visit relief centres, provide back office support or staff the telephone advice line.

The 2009 LIV Legal Awards included a special BLH Recognition Awards category for legal coordinators and organisations, including Victoria Legal Aid, the Victoria Law Foundation, PILCH, the Federation of Community Legal Centres, the Victorian Bar and the LIV.

For further information regarding BLH, visit www.bushfirelegalhelp.org.au.

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