Every Monday, our staff of all ages, experience and background take turns to staff Wayside Chapel’s pro bono Homeless Persons’ Legal Service clinic in Potts Point. The Homeless Persons Legal Service (HPLS) is a joint initiative with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and various law firms throughout Sydney.
Wayside Chapel has been providing support to people on and around the streets of Sydney’s Kings Cross since 1964. The legal clinic is one of the many services Wayside Chapel provides to support people in the community, including young people, the homeless, the elderly, victims of domestic violence, abuse and substance addictions and people with mental illnesses. Established in 2007, the legal clinic at Wayside Chapel has evolved into an integral part of our pro bono activities. Each week our solicitors dispense legal advice to Sydney’s homeless and individuals who cannot afford legal advice, in a familiar and safe place, free of charge.
In the past 18 months, we have assisted more than 100 clients, a number of them with continuing claims involving complex legal issues and at times litigation. In turn, the experience brings exposure to diverse areas of law to the staff who are able to help.
As well as the weekly clinic, we take on pro bono matters for clients who have been referred through HPLS. Some of the highlights of the past year have included:
- Acting for a man who is legally blind and who had consequently lost his train ticket, to successfully overturn a $200 fine imposed by the State Rail Authority for travelling without a ticket;
- Assisting a client when a telecommunications company withdrew $1500 from his bank account without his authority. The funds were subsequently repaid;
- Assisting a homeless man to recover lost wages;
- Providing advice to beneficiaries under wills and assisting them to access their entitlement;
- Assisting clients obtain identity documents;
- Assisting clients to access early release of superannuation on the grounds of financial hardship;
- Successfully making applications for AVO’s;
- Acting for a number of individuals with significant fines with the State Debt Recovery Office to attempt to have these fines written off; and
- Acting for a number of clients with claims for victim’s compensation.