Volunteers sought for legal assistance to bushfire victims and charitable donations


A message from President Tim Game SC

Further to my message to the Bar of 6 January the Bar Association is working with the NSW Attorney General, Legal Aid NSW, the Law Society of NSW and other legal assistance providers to formulate a statewide legal assistance plan to assist those affected by the bushfires with their legal needs.

There is no doubt that the devastating impact of the fires throughout the state has legal ramifications for those who have had their homes, businesses and livelihoods affected, and it is crucial that they can access prompt legal assistance when necessary.

Legal Aid NSW is providing free, practical legal assistance for those affected by the bushfires. This assistance can be accessed through the LawAccess NSW Disaster Response Hotline on 1800 801 529 or at www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au

We expect that the demand for legal assistance from those affected by the fires will be significant and ongoing, and recognise that many of those in need may not be eligible for legal aid. As time goes on, we also expect that legal issues will arise that will require the assistance and advice of counsel.

As a result, the Association’s Legal Assistance Referral Scheme (LARS) will be available to provide referrals for legal assistance to the NSW Bar.

We are seeking expressions of interest from members of the Bar who are available to provide legal assistance to bushfire victims in accordance with the parameters of the LARS guidelines.

Members wishing to volunteer to provide pro bono legal assistance over the coming weeks and months should email the Association at disasterrelief@nswbar.asn.au and provide details of relevant areas of practice and whether they accept direct access briefs.

BarCare is available for any members affected by the fires and offers a confidential counselling service. BarCare’s Director Jenny Houen can be contacted on 0427 317 958.

The Barristers’ Benevolent Fund is also available for any members who have suffered loss and need financial support. Applications to the fund can be made through the Director of BarCare or by emailing me at president@nswbar.asn.au

No doubt many of you have already donated to relief funds, however if you would like to make a donation to support those affected by the bushfires or RFS volunteers, details of organisations providing relief are available here.

The fires are also having a devastating effect on wildlife. WIRES have set up an emergency fund, with information available here.

Members have brought other relief funds to the Association's attention, including:

  • The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GER) seeks to respond to the fires through a staged approach that reacts quickly to the immediate threat, whilst ensuring the long-term restoration, resilience and connectivity of our land, wildlife and communities post-fire. GER has set funding targets for Immediate Actions in early 2020 to respond to the bushfire crisis. GER's prospectus can be found here

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