QPILCH undertakes projects (as its resources permit) to proactively address gaps in access to justice by people who are disadvantaged.
Land Use Governance Project (commenced October 2011)
This project researched different ideas for introducing new decision making mechanisms to resolve land use conflicts and promote land use planning in a way that enhances long-term environmental, economic and social sustainability, liveability and security for all Australians. As a result of the research a discussion paper was written - "Down to Earth" (November 2013). Using coal seam gas as a case study, the discussion paper aims to promote discussion on new forms of adaptive and sustainable 'land use governance' within our democracy. The discussion paper provides a framework that aims to facilitate greater public participation and community engagement in land use decision making processes.
- Rural Regional and Remote Project - (commenced October 2004 for three months and reinstated for six months in January 2009, January 2010, November 2010, August 2011 and August 2012). The aim of this project is to enhance the delivery of pro bono legal services to Rural Regional and Remote (RRR) Queensland and to enhance access to pro bono legal services for disadvantaged people in RRR locations in Queensland. This will be done by engaging more regional law firms and barristers in coordinated pro bono work, strengthening existing relationships between RRR firms and city based firms, building links with regional organisations, working with regional community legal centres and entrenching our services in regional Queensland.
Flood & Cyclone Legal Help (Jan 2011 - June 2012)
With funding from Legal Aid Queensland and support from Mallesons Stephen Jaques, the Flood and Cyclone Legal Help Service received a total of 55 applications from individuals and small businesses. We sent 39 referral requests with 27 matters successfully referred to law firms and/or barristers.
The majority of the files related to the floods in early 2011. Applicants required significant assistance from this service to retrieve and collate their information and documents (including requesting documents from third parties) and our solicitors often worked closely with the applicant's caseworker. At the time of accessing the service, many applicants were suffering from physical and mental health issues arising out of the disasters.
Most applications involved insurance companies denying claims for flood damage based on flood exclusions in the relevant policy however there have also been applications where:
- landlords did not properly complete repairs and the tenant wished to terminate the lease,
- landlords locked tenants out and destroyed property;
- tenants required assistance to exit leases in the most commercially viable way without resulting in breach;
- questionable behaviour by an insurance company when amending the policy; and
- a claim for compensation for property damage caused during the relief effort.
Where appropriate, we informed applicants of the right to seek an internal review of the insurer's decision and the role of the Financial Ombudsman Service. We have also referred applicants to appropriate emotional and financial support services.
Any new requests for assistance arising out of natural disasters will be assessed in accordance with eligibility criteria for the other referral services. Existing files will be monitored by the appropriate referrals service.
CLC Support Project (commenced early 2007)
For some time, QPILCH has attempted to assist CLCs to access resources from the private profession. For example, we have facilitated a secondment from member firm Clayton Utz to a community legal centre at Hervey Bay, and hope to be able to broker similar relationships in future. However, in late 2006, we considered that a coordinated and structured approach would better achieve the outcomes we seek.
Training & Knowledge Project (commenced July 2007)
Following on from the IT & Organisational Development Project and with financial assistance from the Law Foundation Queensland, QPILCH has employed a solicitor to supervise a new Public Interest Research Clinic with students from the University of Queensland and implemented training programs for lawyers, NGOs, students and the public.
IT and Organisational Development Project (Jan 2006 - Jul 2006)
QPILCH received funding from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund to develop a training framework for its clinics and clinical legal education programs to maximise developmental benefits to its lawyers, students and volunteers. As part of this project the QPILCH website has been redeveloped, the database for file management has been revamped and an Intranet developed for internal communications. Precedents have also been developed and loaded onto the website and a section of the website is now devoted to community legal centres, their publications and training.
eCourts Project (commenced Nov 2005)
The aim of this project is to set up a pilot to see how technology can be used to increase accessibility to the courts.
Self-representation Project (commenced Sep 2005)
This project, in conjunction with QUT Law School, is conducting research into self-representation before the Court of Appeal, with a view to implementing services to assist self-represented litigants. This project has now become a QPILCH service operating in the trial divisions of the Supreme & District Courts and the Court of Appeal.
Refugee and Immigration Legal Support Project (May 2003 - Dec 2005)
The aim of RAILS is to coordinate Brisbane law firms and lawyers to assist refugees to obtain a TPV and detainees.
Referral Services Coordination Project (commenced Oct 2004)
This proposal aims to improve access by the community to pro bono services and enhance practitioner involvement in pro bono in Queensland by coordinating pro bono referral schemes and establishing an umbrella service to manage and administer these schemes under one roof.
Homeless Policy Reform Project (commenced Jul 2004)
This project seeks to expand the number of Homeless Persons' Legal Clinics (HPLC) to regional areas of Queensland and undertake research projects in respect of homelessness that arise from the HPLC casework.