La Trobe Law School partners with ASRC

La Trobe Law School will partner with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre to run a clinic offering free legal services to asylum seekers.

Law students will work in the ‘Fast Track’ limited assistance clinic to make sure additional legal services are available to people seeking asylum. The students work under supervision of a dedicated lawyer to assist clients prepare a valid application for protection, including relevant Department of Home Affairs forms and supporting statements.

La Trobe’s Head of Law Professor Patrick Keyzer said the unique partnership was based on shared beliefs.

“Both the Law School and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre value human rights education for law students and high quality legal education with a strong commitment to social justice, global issues and hands on perspective. This collaboration embodies all of that,” Professor Keyzer said.

“This partnership will not only help prepare our students for legal practice by developing skills in real life situations, but more importantly assist many people in need of legal assistance.”

The Fast Track process was introduced by the Federal Government at the end of 2014 and applies to people who arrived in Australia by boat between 13 August 2012 and 31 December 2013. Key features of the Fast Track process include:

  • Reintroduction of temporary protection visas
  • Limited opportunities for review of negative departmental decisions
  • Significant changes to the definition of a refugee which depart from international law
  • Limited opportunities to introduce new information beyond the initial application.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre CEO and former La Trobe Law School graduate Kon Karapanagiotidis said demand for legal support amongst clients was enormous.

“Thousands of people in our community are being caught up in the government’s unfair Fast Track process, under which people seeking asylum are routinely denied the opportunity to rebuild their lives in safety. This partnership means we can offer more people the vitally important legal assistance they need to navigate a system that is weighted against them.”

La Trobe law and International Relations student Kobra Moradi will deliver the keynote address at the officially opening of the clinic on Monday. Ms Moradi was born in Kabul Afghanistan, but her family fled to the city of Jaghori after the conflict escalated. Soon after, her father disappeared. Five years later Ms Moradi's mother found out her husband was alive and safe in Australia. The family reunited in Sydney in December 2005.

"There are many refugees in our community who live in uncertainty and who have not seen their family for years. Their future is dependent upon on a system of formalities. Anything we can to do help them is going to be a good thing."

Around 24,000 people are subject to the Fast Track process across Australia – 10,000 of whom are in Victoria.

Photo: Kobra Modari is interviewed by SBS

Media Contact: Briena Barrett 0432 566 014