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Pro bono : Centring on pro bono

Every Issue

Cite as: (2003) 77(7) LIJ, p.88

In less than 12 months the National Pro Bono Resource Centre has established its presence.

Since the National Pro Bono Resource Centre (NPBRC) was launched by federal Attorney-General Daryl Williams on 15 August 2002, it has moved to its own premises at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, appointed permanent staff and attracted a number of project workers to assist with its ambitious program. The NPBRC publishes a regular e-newsletter National Pro Bono News[1] and is gradually developing its website into a major resource tool for the expanding pro bono community.

The NPBRC was established by a consortium led by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. It is an independent national organisation managed by a widely representative board with a broad-based advisory committee. Its core budget is being met by a grant from the federal Attorney-General’s Department. The aims of the NPBRC are to:

  • promote the delivery of high quality pro bono legal services across Australia;
  • identify and overcome barriers faced by practitioners in providing pro bono work; and
  • improve mechanisms for linking pro bono services with clients and communities in need.

The NPBRC has undertaken a range of projects since its establishment. To promote the delivery of high quality legal services it is compiling an Australian Pro Bono Manual for law firms. The manual will be jointly published with the Victoria Law Foundation later this year. It is also working on a report “Mapping Pro Bono in Australia”. The report charts models of pro bono delivery throughout Australia.

In identifying and overcoming barriers faced by practitioners in providing pro bono work, the NPBRC has developed a discussion paper and draft protocol aimed at minimising law firms’ potential concerns that providing pro bono legal services in matters against government agencies may prejudice them in securing other government legal work. The NPBRC has written to the Attorney-General seeking the government’s adoption of the protocol and will take up the issue with state governments after the Commonwealth has responded. It has also made a submission to the Federal Court raising concerns about a proposed new provision in O.45 of the Federal Court Rules which aims to ensure that the Court knows the identity of any legal practitioner who has prepared a document used by an otherwise unrepresented litigant. The NPBRC consulted with members of the profession and legal aid before preparing its submission.

To assist with improving mechanisms for linking services with clients and communities in need, the NPBRC is completing a report on the experiences of 13 community organisations involved in multi-tiered relationships with various law firms. The report highlights ways in which law firms are increasing their legal and non-legal activities in support of community legal services and how this has led to enhanced understanding of the needs and capacities of each. In addition, and assisted by the National Association of CLCs and Coudert Brothers, the NPBRC is preparing a Guide to Volunteering at Community Legal Centres.

In conjunction with the Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian Public Interest Law Clearing Houses the NPBRC is hosting the Second National Pro Bono Conference in Sydney on 20-21 October. Sub-titled “Transforming Access to Justice”, the conference will draw on the diversity of experience in Australia and overseas, and will provide an opportunity to assess whether traditional models of pro bono service delivery effectively address social justice objectives.

The NPBRC is well into its ongoing program of consultation in each state and territory and is simultaneously undertaking projects designed to extend pro bono services in rural and regional communities and for the benefit of indigenous clients and communities. For further information see the NPBRC website

Looking to help?

To help lawyers and firms become involved in a diverse range of pro bono work, the LIJ will profile a community group and its needs each month.

Name of group  Taralye – The Oral Language Centre for Deaf Children
Contact person  Gill Baker
Title  Development Manager
Tel  9877 1300
Address  137 Blackburn Road, Blackburn 3130

Brief description of work of group In 1968 a group of parents formed the Advisory Council for Children with Impaired Hearing (Vic). They believed deaf children should have access to the same educational opportunities as hearing children. Taralye, the centre these parents founded, was opened in 1970 and is now an internationally recognised early intervention centre. It aims to promote the linguistic, education and social outcomes of children with hearing loss through innovative early intervention services and research. Taralye continues to advocate for oral education services for deaf children in Victoria.
Current needs of group Taralye would greatly appreciate legal advice on setting up a tax-deductible building fund and on redeveloping its current articles of association and memorandum of association. Legal advice is also needed in developing a memorandum of understanding and a bequest program.
For more information about volunteering visit:

This column is coordinated by the VICTORIA LAW FOUNDATION. For further information contact the Pro Bono Secretariat via the VLF’s website

[1] To subscribe to National Pro Bono News contact the NPBRC on tel (02) 9385 7381 or via the website at


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