VALS provides legal advice to a significant and growing number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who have been abused and mistreated by members of Victoria Police, Correctional Services staff, and other government employees they have had contact with. Some of these instances of mistreatment are very serious, and the client will often have a viable personal injury claim against the wrongdoer and/or their employer.
VALS also conducts a significant Community Legal Education (CLE) program. This involves providing legal information and education to the Aboriginal community across Victoria. This encompasses in-person events and online activities and targets a range of audiences from children through to Elders.
The Senior Lawyer (Community Outreach) will have a focus on this goal. The role is situated in the Specialist Legal and Litigation Practice (Wirraway).
About half the time, the Senior Lawyer’s (Community Outreach) time will be spent on coordinating, designing, and delivering CLE content in partnership with Community Justice Program (CJP) CLE project staff. This includes coordinating with CLE project staff to identify areas of legal need and interest in the community and the profession and working with lawyers across other practice areas to design and deliver education content.
Senior Lawyers (Community Outreach) will also conduct project and casework within Wirraway. This involves assisting with the establishment or operation of legal clinics, conducting prison outreach services, taking on tort matters, police complaints, and handling coronial files.
The role also works closely with VALS Policy, Communications and Strategy team to build awareness, and create submissions and proposals for law and policy reform.
As this is a new model of delivering CLE at VALS, the role will collaborate with other VALS staff and external stakeholders that are important to ensuring the new initiative is as impactful as possible.
Key Performance Indicators, Duties & Responsibility
- Working with other practice areas in VALS Legal Services and the Community Justice Program (CJP), and following directions from the Director of Legal Services, CEO and the Board, coordinate, design and deliver VALS’ program of CLE across Victoria.
- Coordinate with other legal and CJP staff to deliver CLE content on diverse issues of importance to particular communities or the Aboriginal community of Victoria as a whole.
- Provide guidance and advice in both written and oral form to the other practice areas within VALS legal services.
- Achieve results through court advocacy at a level that requires highly developed legal skills and expertise in both adversarial and inquisitorial proceedings (coronial inquests, civil litigation and criminal matters).
- Increase professional development outcomes through internal training and development opportunities, working together with the relevant legal teams and stakeholders.
- Contribute to, and participate in, the collaborative relationship between Victoria Legal Aid, Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations, Community Legal Centres and other community organisations with whom VALS interacts
- Provide mentoring, guidance and supervision and direct oversight of lawyers and administrative staff including the work undertaken in the practice as required.
- Compliance with all VALS Values, code of conduct, policies and procedures and relevant government legislation and standards where relevant.
- Demonstrate a commitment to the principles of social justice and aim to ensure every individual is treated with dignity and respect regardless of their background, ability, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or religion
- Ensure appropriate use of resources
- Actively participate in initiatives to maintain, build upon and promote a positive and collaborative workplace.
- Take reasonable care for your own health & safety, and health and safety of others (to extent required)
- Promptly respond to and report health and safety hazards, incidents and near misses to management.
- Attend mandatory training sessions (ie. equal employment opportunity, health and safety, cultural safety) and mandatory training specific to position.
Key Selection Criteria
- Experience or interest in designing and delivering CLE content.
- Knowledge and understanding of the social, legal and justice issues including abuse and systemic racism faced by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria
- Experience in dealing with Aboriginal community organisations.
- Significant knowledge of legislation pertaining to criminal law and civil law litigation with a focus on police torts, ability to analyse complex situations and adapt accordingly in a fast paced and changing environment.
- High level advocacy and legal skills with demonstrated experience in appearing on behalf of relevant parties in Victorian courts and tribunals.
- Demonstrated high level conceptual skills, analytical and negotiation skills to achieve desired results.
- Highly developed interpersonal skills with an ability to develop positive relationships with both internal and external stakeholders including members of the Aboriginal Community, Courts, Judiciary, support services and Government Departments.
- Demonstrated experience in coaching, mentoring and/or training staff to equip them with knowledge and skills.
- A commitment to the principles and values of the organisation and proven record of ethical behaviour pursuant to the Legal Profession Uniform Law.
Qualifications and experience:
- Relevant qualification in Law and admission to practice as an Australian Lawyer.
- Must hold an unrestricted practicing certificate with not less than 3 years PAE.
- Knowledge of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) and the police complaints process.
- Experience in legal policy and commitment to driving and influencing change on relevant policy priorities and emerging issues (desirable)
- Current unrestricted practising certificate issued by the Victorian Legal Services Board
- Current Employee Working with Children Card and/or willingness to obtain prior to commencement
- Proof of rights to work in Australia, i.e. a copy of an Australian Passport, Birth Certificate or Immigration VISA documentation
- The successful applicant will be required to undergo a National Criminal History Police Check
- The Senior Lawyers (Community Outreach) will require travel to circuit courts across the state and interstate travel may be required.