Insight 11 - June 2014 - page 5

or trauma.Theheartof RILC is theprovision
of free legal assistance to refugees, asylum
seek toensure that thepoliciesand laws in
relation to refugeesandasylum seekersare
fair, just andhumane.
RILC is the largest provider of free legal
assistance to refugees andmigrants in
Australia, andVictoria’sonly specialist
community legal centre. Our clients are
peoplewhoare seekingvisaprotection,
freedom frompersecution, andmanyare
desperately trying to reunitewith lovedones
who remain trapped inextremelyprecarious
Volunteersmakeamajor contribution toRILC’s
caseworkandadvice service.Volunteeringcan
actuallybeanexcellent andeffectivewayof
developingacareer in thisareabecausemany
of thepeoplewhoendupworkingas refugee
lawyers startedoffbyvolunteering.
Wehaveestablisheda structuredandmutually
beneficial program inconjunctionwithACU’s
ThomasMoreLawSchoolwhereACU law
studentsvolunteer at thecentreona regular
basis.Wearedelighted tobe involvedwitha
law school that has a clear interest in social
justice, human rights andmaking sure that
war at themoment. Somanypeoplewant
helpbut thereare just not enoughvolunteers
togoaround. That’swhy I continue togive
my time.
Lastweek I assistedawoman fromSomalia
whose sisterhadbeenkilledby thearmy
I helpedherfill out a rangeof visa formsand
took thewoman to thepostoffice. Small
things like that canmakeabigdifference
becauseat theendof theday thatpaperwork
mightget thosechildrenacross toAustralia
andhaveapositive impacton their lives.”
“I like todescribeRILCasanemergencyward
for vulnerablepeople thathavecome fromall
cornersof theglobe froma rangeofdiverse
Eachyearweassistmore than3,000people
whowouldnototherwisehaveaccess to
legal servicesdue tofinancial disadvantage
often related to their cultural or linguistically
diversebackgrounds, or experiencesof torture
the lawdirectly responds to theplight of
peoplenomatterwho theyareorwhere they
are from.
ACU law students likeLauradirectlycontribute
toRILC’swork in twomainareas: provision
of immigrationadviceandassistance
under supervision; andassistancewith
administrativeand research taskswhichcan
becritical todetermining the rightsof our
clientsand theirprospects forobtainingvisas
to stay inAustralia.
Volunteers likeLaurawhohavecome froma
refugeebackgroundcanhavean immediate
anddeeperunderstandingof someof the
issuesat stake for clientsandwhat theyhave
been through. I canalso say thatpeoplewho
don’thave thatbackgroundbring something
just as important andprecious; and that is
an interest inhelpingpeople, particularly
vulnerablepeople.This isaveryprecious thing
todo.There isan inherent value to it and I
thinkavery simplebeauty in it.”
LauraSaric’s familywas forced toflee the former
Yugoslaviaandseekrefugefirst inGermany,and then
later inAustralia.Remembering thekindnesswithwhich
shewas treated, theACU lawstudent ispassionateabout
helping today’srefugees,andvolunteersatMelbourne’s
Refugee ImmigrationandLegalCentre (RILC).David
Manne is theExecutiveDirectorof theRILC.
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