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Legal clinic supports the elderly

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A new free legal service will benefit some of the most vulnerable people within society.

The Older Persons Legal Clinic has been handed a three-year State Government grant totalling $696,000.

The grant will focus on increasing access to justice for older people, improving legal outcomes, and reducing the load of legal work on government and community-based free legal services.

The service, established by the Newcastle Law School at the University of Newcastle, is located within the university’s legal centre in the city’s CBD.

Two recent inquiries conducted by the government have identified the need to enhance legal practitioners’ skills in the prevention of, and responses to, financial abuse.

The inquiries also found limited access to legal services contributed to the vulnerability of older people.

Legal Centre Director Shaun McCarthy said isolation and physical restrictions were a significant source of disempowerment for older people.

“Older people have particular legal needs and the Older Persons Legal Clinic will offer legal advice, representation, and community education,” Mr McCarthy said.

“The clinic supports older people with matters such as wills, powers of attorney, enduring guardianship, mental health law and social security, as well as providing community legal education to older people and legal professionals.”

The clinic will also support individuals in other areas, such as family law, tenancy issues and neighbourhood disputes.

Common issues older people face include consumer matters, financial abuse, planning ahead

for the future, accommodation matters and driver’s licensing.

The service also provides the university’s law students with a valuable workplace experience that places them within the legal profession during their studies, connecting them with government and private legal professionals, as well as courts, tribunals, and vulnerable clients.

It ensures students are exposed to disadvantaged populations and provides the opportunity to be inspired by local professionals who work to improve legal outcomes and access to justice for those in need.

The clinic takes place in Newcastle on Wednesdays at University House (near Civic Park), while a pop-up clinic operates from the ground floor of the Australian Taxation Office building in Gosford on Thursdays.

Visit newcastle.edu.au older-persons-legal-clinic for more information or phone 1800 314 792.

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