The last year has presented Central Highlands Community Legal Centre (CHCLC) with a range of opportunities and challenges that its committed staff and volunteers have responded to with professionalism and dedication.
During the year the Centre saw both the arrival and departure of Principal Lawyer Matthew Wilson, who brought with him a dedication to social justice and a passion for community causes, consistent with the intention of the Centre to advocate for those who may not be able to speak for themselves. He has been succeeded by Hilary Russell who brings equally important experience in the community legal sector, Aboriginal legal services, management and social work.
The Centre’s legal staff have continued to provide a high level of service across diverse areas of law, meeting key indicators for client numbers and providing support and assistance that have rightly earned them the respect of the legal profession and the broader community across the Grampians region.
Growth in funding has enabled the Centre to broaden its service mix, including providing an in-house community support role as well as supporting ongoing community legal education services and all-important administrative activities.
The Centre has continued to be effectively managed, meeting the requirements of its Community Legal Services Plan and progressing its Monitoring and Evaluation Framework to quantify and qualify the client experience and enhance service quality. A new Strategic Plan was developed with staff and stakeholder consultation and will be utilised to support the direction and focus of the Centre.
Vital to the continuation of services has been the contribution of volunteers; encompassing lawyers providing their time on a pro bono basis, administration volunteers and the Committee of Management, all providing their time without recompense to progress the Centre’s vision and mission.
The timing of this report coincides with the departure of three people from the Committee of Management who have jointly provided of their time, resources and expertise to assist in the oversight of the Centre’s planning and direction. Special thanks are due to; Sonya McDonald, Orry Pilven and Andrew Turner.
Sonya has served as a Committee member since early 2012 and as Vice-Chair for much of the subsequent period, ensuring quality decision making and positive outcomes.
Orry has contributed in the vital role of Secretary for four years providing valued advice, support and guidance.
Andrew has been a Committee member for more than three years, delivering professional expertise and guidance.
All three of these valued members are sincerely thanked for their many hours of work and wished the best for their future endeavours. The Centre has reached an important point in its history. Having outgrown its current premises in Dawson Street North, Ballarat it has recently acquired offices in Chancery Lane that provide scope for expansion and are located close to the local court complex within the Ballarat CBD. Fit out and maintenance works are being conducted in the final months of 2018 with a formal opening scheduled for January 2019. The strong urban presence of the Centre will assist its recognition and prominence in the local community.