Be the lawyer who defends our rights

Homelessness affects more than 105,000 Australians*. Its causes are diverse and complex, including unemployment, a lack of affordable housing, mental illness, social exclusion and domestic violence. It affects people of all ages, including children.

Nastassia Bondarenko-Edwards is a corporate tax lawyer at a top tier law firm and does pro bono work with a not-for-profit legal service, helping people at risk of homelessness.

"Losing your home – especially if you have children – is a big issue. Understandably, it can be overwhelming." says Nastassia.

"Often, just having someone assisting with the matter, explaining options and negotiating on your behalf can be of great assistance."

Be the one who defends our rights

Nastassia graduated from La Trobe with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), prepared for a career in commercial law and a continued interest in volunteering.

"The course gave me the skills for going into commercial law, but also fostered a mindset of helping others.

"These clients don't necessarily have the means to seek professional help. Making justice accessible for all is really important. I'd like to think that people would help me if I was in need."

Nastassia helps her clients stay in their home, if possible. She negotiates repayment plans for those who have fallen into rental arrears, prepares VCAT submissions, and represents clients at VCAT hearings.

"The people we assist may not have alternative accommodation, family or anyone else to turn to. Our aim is to help them retain their housing, and if that's not possible, we try to make the transition from their accommodation as smooth as we can."

*Census of population and housing: estimating homelessness, 2011