Community Legal Centres – news and analysis

WESTS Community Engagement Day

WESTS Tenant Advocates
On Friday 21 May 2021, WESTS held a community engagement event at the Skye Hotel in Parramatta to reconnect with key partners of our organisation. The event was a great success. There were over 60 attendees at the community engagement day who were able to finally reconnect with WESTS after a long-period of physical isolation dating back to the COVID-19 lockdown in March last year.
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Practical advocacy for social housing tenants

Text reads social housing clinic
Marrickville Legal Centre is home to two tenancy services – the Inner West Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service (IWTAAS) and Northern Sydney Area Tenants Service (NSATS). The services provide free, confidential legal information, advice and advocacy to renters living in social and private residential housing.  The services have recently introduced a Social Housing Clinic for residents of Sydney’s inner west and Northern Sydney area.
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No country for young renters?

Text summary of post body, showing 6 young people looking at phones
Young renters do it tough. Expensive rents, share houses, problems with flatmates, the risk of eviction, dodgy landlords, worry about bonds and outstanding repairs are just the tip of the iceberg. While renters under the age of 25 make up a significant percentage of tenants in NSW, and are living in some of the worst conditions, our research has shown they do not contact Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services (TAASs) at the same rate as other age groups. We want to change that!
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Using artificial intelligence to improve access to justice

New Age Legal Assistant
Marrickville Legal Centre has launched a new virtual legal assistant named ‘NALA’ to help people with basic legal queries online.
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Tenants' Union Annual Report 2019-2020

Tenants' Union Annual Report Cover
The past year has been an extraordinary one for the Tenants’ Union, by any measure. Unprecedented bushfires and then flooding across NSW drove many displaced tenants to tenancy services for support. Several months of natural disasters then gave way to the COVID-19 pandemic which not only drove a record number of tenants to our online resources looking for information and advice but it forced the Tenants’ Union’s own staff to start working remotely. During these external challenges, this year the Tenants’ Union was also forced to look for a new office space and recruit a new CEO. It has been an incredible year of change, but the staff at the Tenants’ Union have taken it in their stride and risen to every challenge. 
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Celebrating NAIDOC Week: Always Was, Always Will Be.

NAIDOC
Tenant Advocates have joined in NAIDOC 2020 celebrations across NSW, in person and online. Western Aboriginal Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service participated in the Dubbo NAIDOC event. They provided resources and information, and talked about how WATAAS supports the community with tenancy matters.
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Staying Connected – TAAS Conference 2020

TAAS Conference 2020
Last week, over 100 Tenant Advocates participated in our first online Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services Conference. We explored a range of topics, including changes to tenancy laws, policy reform, and advocate work practice. We looked in detail at the effects COVID-19 has had on tenants lives, the Tribunal’s practices, tenancy law, and mental health. 
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Reflections on 10 years of Tenant Advocacy

Maz at Tweed Heads
After 10 and a half years, Maralyn Schofield is leaving her role as Coordinator of the Northern Rivers Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service. We took the opportunity to ask her for some of her reflections on the changes she's seen in the world of tenancy – and the things she'd like to see change in future...
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Thank you Julie Foreman!

Julie Foreman at the Town Hall Assembly
Julie Foreman is moving on from her role as Tenants' Union Executive Officer, and the Tenants' Union Board and staff would like to thank her for her fantastic contribution. It has been the Board's absolute pleasure to work with Julie for her entire tenure at the Tenants' Union. Some of the Directors have been on the Board nearly as long as Julie has been at the helm, while others have only just joined, but we are all united in saying she will be dearly missed.
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Advocating for independent living

Mary and Amanda
Recently, the Northern Rivers Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service was able to assist a tenant to maintain her independent living. The tenant lives in social housing, in a modest three bedroom home where she has lived all her life, in a country town. She has a severe visual impairment, and until recently was cared for by her mother. Sadly, her mother passed away not long ago. Her mother held the tenancy, so when she died, our client was given a six month fixed term agreement, while her eligibility for social housing was assessed.
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