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Student-led service offering legal support and assistance launched at UC

Elly Mackay and Danielle Meddemmen

11 April 2022: Citizen Centred Justice (CCJ) – a service offering legal advice, support, and assistance – was officially launched at the University of Canberra this morning, in a joint venture between the UC Medical and Counselling Centre, Canberra Law School, and pro bono law firm Adjacent Law and Health.

The program is the first of its kind at the University, and is completely student-led.

Director, Health and Counselling Centre, Dr Jenny Weekes said despite celebrating the clinic’s official launch today, she was pleased to have seen it operating since Semester One, 2022.

“This clinic takes legal services to the community where people can seek help from a trusted professional in our Medical and Counselling Centre, and are referred for appropriate legal advice and advocacy,” she said.

“Vulnerable people don’t just walk into legal firms for advice – instead, they talk to someone they trust in the community like their doctor, psychologist, or in our community, a staff member.

“Timely legal advice for their problem may help them make more informed choices at an earlier stage and improve wellbeing outcomes.”

The students running the clinic, from the University’s Canberra Law School, will be supervised by lawyers from Adjacent Law and Health and a psychologist from the University’s Medical and Counselling Centre.

Since the beginning of Semester One, 2022, the program has provided a valuable initiative for the students and clients involved.

Bachelor of Laws student Jo Crooks has been working within CCJ since the beginning of Semester One and said the experience it offered her has been unmatched.

“We are a mix of Law and Justice students and the general consensus is that it’s opened our eyes to the reality of client problems needing to be treated holistically, and not just legally,” she said.

“The collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach between health professionals and lawyers exposes us to the warm handover concept where clients have consented to sharing information, so we have a good foundational understanding as to why they are coming to see us.

“During our time at CCJ , we have been exposed to a variety of legal matters that offers us a broad range of experience to take into the workforce in the future.”

The CCJ clinic is open at the UC Medical and Counselling Centre every Wednesday, from 10.30am – 4.30pm.