Community Legal Centres
Community legal centres (CLCs) are independently operating, not-for-profit community organisations that provide legal and related services to the public, focusing on the disadvantaged and people with special needs. Community legal centres provide referral, advice and assistance to more than 350,000 people each year. Some CLCs offer specialist legal services in areas such as child support, credit and debt, environmental law, welfare rights, mental health, disability discrimination, tenancy, immigration, employment, the arts, etc. Some CLCs provide services targeted to particular groups, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, children and young people, women, older people, refugees, prisoners, and the homeless. There are around 200 CLCs across Australia.
Job vacancies are advertised on a needs basis. Employment is competitive and there is no official graduate program. Most experience and opportunities result from volunteering. Job vacancies will be posted on the website as they become available. There is an extensive jobs list for CLCs around the country that is regularly updated.
Why do an internship?
Finding a job in the field of international human rights law is hard work. Basically NGOs are only interested in you if you have some experience working for an NGO (or if you have some other kind of international law experience). And the best way of getting some experience is by doing an internship. Internships can be a fulfilling experience and are the best way of meeting professionals in the field.
What are internships?
Internships are generally unpaid, full time, and usually last around ten weeks. Depending on the organisation, you may be asked to assist in mounting high profile court cases, researching and writing reports, interviewing clients, attending meetings etc.
What kind of work you do will depend on the kind of organisation you choose – whether it is a small grass roots organisation in South America or a big international organisation in New York or Geneva. The idea of an internship is that you immerse yourself in the workings of your organisation so that you can gain a practical appreciation of the practical operation of human rights law.
Who offers internships?
Internships are offered by a huge number of organisations all around the world. !e best approach is to identify: (i) an issue that you are passionate about; (ii) a region of the world in which you would like to pursue this passion, and; (iii) importantly, how you will support yourself during the internship. Odds are, there is an organisation that fits your interests. The best way of funding this organization is on the internet. Many organisations have web-pages about the internships that they offer. Even if they don’t have such a page, it doesn’t hurt to ask an organisation whether such an internship could be set up.
The next step is contacting the organisation and convincing them that you are the highly motivated person they need. Organizations are interested in you if they think you can assist them, rather than waste their precious time. !is process can be dicult and the best advice is to be persistent. Note that some organisations may want you to submit a sample of your legal writing about relevant issues.
Aurora Native Title Internship Program
The Aurora Native Title Internship Program places legal, anthropology and some social science students and graduates in unpaid internships at Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs) and other organisations working in native title, policy development and social justice with a focus on Indigenous aairs. !e program not only provides much needed assistance to host organisations but also promotes career opportunities by raising awareness of the NTRB system and attracts students and graduates to work in the sector. !e quality of the students is demonstrated by the eagerness of NTRBs and other hosts to retain alumni of the program on a longer-term basis.
Applications are open to law students who have completed the Property component of their legal studies; law graduates; as well as to related social science students and graduates (namely anthropology, archaeology, cultural heritage, environmental management, history, human geography and sociology), who demonstrate a keen interest in native title, policy and Indigenous aairs. Longer term paid contract placements are also offered from two months and may continue up to one year.
Applicants for the internship program are required to apply on-line via the Aurora website. There are two intakes for interns annually for 5 - 6 week placements during the winter and summer university breaks.
Opportunities for students/graduates
- Internship Program – 6 week unpaid internships
- Paid Work Experience following on from internships
Australian Law Reform Commission
The Australian Law Reform Commission is a federal agency that reviews Australia’s laws to ensure they provide improved access to justice for all Australians by making laws and related processes more equitable, modern, fair and efficient. The ALRC is part of the Attorney-General’s portfolio, however it is independent of government. The ALRC’s objective is to make recommendations for law reform that: bring the law into line with current conditions and needs; remove defects in the law; simplify the law; adopt new or more effective methods for administering the law and dispensing justice; and provide improved access to justice.
Aboriginal Legal Service
ALS assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children through representation in court, advice and information, and referral to further support services. The ALS does legal work in Criminal law and Children’s Care and Protection law. They also work in community legal education and law reform. There are 23 offices and 185 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff across NSW and ACT working towards achieving justice for Aboriginal people and the community.
Public Interest Advocacy Service
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) is an independent, non-profit law and policy organisation that works for a fair, just and democratic society; empowering citizens, consumers and communities by taking strategic action on public interest issues. PIAC works with people who have least access to economic, social and legal resources and opportunities.
Public Interest Law Clearing House (NSW)
PILCH is a not-for-profit organisation and community legal centre that fosters the public interest by connecting individuals and organisations with legal services and pursuing issues of social importance through strategic litigation, policy recommendations and advocacy. Their mission is centred on bridging the justice gap in New South Wales. PILCH operates within a human rights and social justice framework, which means that their work and priority setting is informed by a focus on unmet need and equality of access to legal assistance and advocacy. PILCH sits in a unique position in the legal sector, bridging the gap between Legal Aid and CLCs, and the private profession. PILCH is able to develop links between research (through member universities) and practice.
The mission of Youthlaw is to provide an accessible legal service to young people under the age of 25, focusing on areas of unmet legal need. They aim to address systemic legal and social justice issues in Victoria through community education, advocacy and law reform both for and with young people and their advocates.