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Bringing HSC Legal Studies to life

Year 12 Legal Studies students have learnt a lot about young people and the law this week, with a visit from Children’s Legal Services and from Anti Slavery Australia.

Julianne Elliott from Children’s Legal Service (CLS) of Legal Aid NSW came to talk to our Year 12 Legal Studies students about the role they play in advising and representing children and young people under 18, who are involved in criminal cases and Apprehended Violence Order applications in the Children’s Courts. As she explained, their aim is to ensure that children and young people have access to professional, face-to-face or telephone-based legal advice during their legal proceedings.

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Maddie said, “I found the Children’s Legal Service’s visit to Wenona very interesting and beneficial to our class. It provided me with a much deeper insight into the workings of the youth criminal justice system in New South Wales and Australia in general. We learnt why there is a separate court for youth offenders as it is more sensitised, tailored to their individual needs and is focused on rehabilitation. We also discussed topical matters such as bail for young offenders and unnecessary fines. Julianne Elliott, a representative of Children’s Legal Service, did very well in explaining the information in an accessible and engaging manner, allowing the class to both learn and have fun. Although it is certainly very important to know the processes and mechanisms utilised in dealing with young offenders, I hope no one in our class will ever be in one of those situations!”

Annie said, “This was a valuable experience as we will be studying this area later next year as a part of our HSC course. We were provided insight into what constitutes a young offender, who is eligible for legal aid and what to do if you come into contact with the police. Personally, I learnt a lot from this talk as I was able to gain a deeper understanding of what the Children’s Legal Service stands for and how they operate.”

Sophia said, “This session allowed for in-depth discussions involving all members of the class on various topic including misconceptions surrounding young people and the law, and the clients/case types that legal aid are often involved in. The whole class is glad to have had this opportunity and we would like to thank Ms Elliott for her engaging talk.”

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On Tuesday, Carolyn Laiw from Anti Slavery Australia came to talk to our Year 12 Legal Studies students about slavery and the Modern Slavery Act 2017, with a focus on the growing issue of forced marriage. Anti Slavery Australia protects the human rights of trafficked and enslaved people through research, policy development, law reform, professional practice, education and advocacy.

Claudia said, “In our unit we have focused on the gradual abolition of slavery and many of us were shocked to hear that slavery is still prevalent within our society today. Carolyn Liaw described disturbing local cases of forced marriage and provided us with vital statistics. This was very beneficial to our learning. Carolyn was able to complement our syllabus, providing us with significant resources for the upcoming HSC. But she also gave us a broader view of society and helped to widen our perspective on the conditions of human rights and crime in Australia.

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Eloise said, “We were extremely lucky to have Carolyn Liaw speak to us just before our test, providing us with vital insight into the inner workings of the human rights organisation. Carolyn spoke to us about the important work of Anti Slavery Australia in raising awareness and protecting victims of modern slavery. In particular, her talk focused on forced marriage as a form of modern slavery, which was an extremely relevant case study for our tests on human rights. We are all very grateful to her.”

Kate said, "Carolyn spoke about a 2015 initiative that has been partly funded by the Government. It is a website called My Blue Sky, which gives victims of forced marriage access to help, information and protection. They have a series of tabs on this website for the most affected age demographic, as well as many languages to ensure all those who need help have access to the information. They are also able to contact lawyers to map out their options and raise awareness through their website. Anti Slavery Australia also works in conjunction with the Government and enforcement agencies once a year at round tables to talk about how to lower the statistics of forced marriage in Australia, which is the most common form of slavery in the country. Her talk really shone a light on the rising number of forced marriages, and the legal and non legal mechanisms in place to help combat the issue." 

Offering our students an opportunity to explore, learn and discuss issues of law and justice with inspiring experts in the legal industry really helps to build their engagement and interest in contemporary legal issues and provides greater insight into the legal profession and different career pathways. Thank you to our guest speakers for their time and expertise, and to Ms Isbel and Ms Campbell for coordinating this.