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A healthy partnership

A healthy partnership

By Tessa Boyd-Caine

Voluntary Associations/Pro Bono 

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What began as a two-year seed grant to recruit a CEO has evolved into a successful partnership between a top-tier law firm and a charitable start-up.

In 2012 Peter Noble of Bendigo's Loddon-Campaspe Community Legal Centre (LCCLC) went on a study tour to the US to investigate how legal services were integrating into health settings to better reach vulnerable people. Five years later, there are more than 20 health justice partnerships (HJPs) integrating community lawyers in health services in Australia. In 2016 Health Justice Australia was established as a national centre to support their effectiveness and expansion.

Throughout this, the Clayton Utz Foundation has provided critical financial support. The foundation funded Peter Noble's research and the LCCLC, and more recently provided a grant for the establishment of Health Justice Australia.

These philanthropic contributions complemented Clayton Utz's strong culture of pro bono legal practice, through which it now also supports legal services in a number of HJPs.

Clayton Utz's support for Health Justice Australia has demonstrated the potential of corporate philanthropy. What began as a two-year seed grant from the foundation to recruit a CEO has evolved into a fruitful partnership between one of the country's top-tier law firms and a charitable start-up. Clayton Utz partners and employees have been deeply engaged in Health Justice Australia's development. Its lawyers have advised on a range of legal issues and assisted in developing resources to support partnerships in practice.

The contribution of Clayton Utz's non-legal employees has been equally important and has included:

  • leveraging professional relationships to attract branding advice from Folk creative agency and how to adapt that brand across the organisation
  • advising on an effective communications strategy
  • bringing IT and project management expertise to support data and technology strategy and keeping the organisation on track in its rapidly expanding activities and impact.

The relationship with Clayton Utz has given Health Justice Australia a great start on its mission to improve the health and justice outcomes of some of the most vulnerable communities in Australia. It is also a remarkable example of how corporate philanthropy can move beyond the funding process to engage whole workplaces in achieving social impact.

Snapshot

Across Australia, 8.5 million people experience three or more legal needs in a given year – and half of these won't seek support. Those who do are much more likely to do so in a healthcare setting rather than via a lawyer. Since 2013, HJPs have been bringing community legal services into health settings to help tackle this problem. They now operate:

  • in almost every state and territory
  • with community legal centres or legal aid organisations
  • within public, private and not-for-profit health settings
  • in hospital and community health services
  • in urban centres and regional communities.

Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine is the founding CEO of Health Justice Australia.

Looking to help?

To find pro bono opportunities for your firm see www.justiceconnect.org.au/get-involved, which also manages the LIV's pro bono Legal Assistance Service.

For solicitors: talk to your pro bono coordinator or the person responsible for pro bono work at your firm or see www.fclc.org.au/cb_pages/careers_and_getting_involved.php.

For barristers: see www.vicbar.com.au/social-justice/pro-bono.


Disclaimer: Views expressed by commentators are not necessarily endorsed by the Law Institute of Victoria Ltd (LIV). No responsibility is accepted by the LIV for the accuracy of information contained in the comments and the LIV expressly disclaims any liability for, with respect to or arising from any such views.

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