Media release: Community legal organisations call to contribute to IR reform working groups

Today WEstjustice has led a coalition of 17 community legal organisations in writing to the Commonwealth Minister for Industrial Relations and Attorney-General, the Hon. Christian Porter MP, to ask that the experience and voices of our clients be represented in the new Industrial Relations Working Groups.

Community legal centres provide vital education and legal services to some of Australia’s most vulnerable workers, including young people, women experiencing family violence and newly arrived migrant and refugee communities.

The IR Working Groups currently consist of representatives from employer groups and unions. However Catherine Hemingway, Director of WEstjustice’s Employment Law Program has noted that the Prime Minister originally announced that the IR Working Groups would include others who had demonstrated experience and expertise in employment law including those representing people from rural and regional backgrounds, multicultural communities, women and families.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant and disproportionate impact on many of our clients, and served to expose the limitations of our workplace relations system, particularly for those in insecure work.  It is essential that the voices and experiences of vulnerable workers are heard as part of this reform process, and that protection of those most in need forms a core consideration of any reform agenda” said Ms Hemingway.

Ms Hemingway noted that community legal centres had a lot to offer the working groups: “Our reports and law reform submissions document widespread exploitation of vulnerable workers, legislative gaps and barriers to enforcement and compliance, and importantly, they also provide evidence-based recommendations for reform”.

Ms Hemingway is confident that the experience of community legal centre clients will be relevant to the deliberations of the IR Working Groups: “The Commonwealth Attorney-General has said the IR Working Groups will seek the input of organisations with ‘expert experience and real-world perspectives on relevant issues’. You can’t get more real-world than the clients we see every day – many are new to the workforce, they are working in low-paid, precarious employment, often have low proficiency in English and have experienced multiple forms of exploitation in the workplace”.

In the letter the coalition of community legal centres has asked for the opportunity to meet and discuss their employment law work, and recommendations for IR reform, with relevant IR Working Groups.

 

WE are located

  • Footscray
  • Werribee
  • Sunshine
Footscray

Level 1 / 72 Buckley Street, Footscray VIC 3011

Tel: + 61 3 9749 7720
Fax: + 61 3 9749 8276
Email:  admin@westjustice.org.au

Office hours:
Monday to Friday, 9.30am-1.00pm and 2:00pm-5:00pm. (Office currently closed due to COVID-19 situation)

Please call us to get legal help (appointment time needed).

Werribee

Level 1 / 8 Watton Street, Werribee VIC 3030

Tel: + 61 3 9749 7720
Fax: + 61 3 9749 8276
Email:  admin@westjustice.org.au

Office hours:
Monday to Friday, 9.00am-5:00pm. (Office currently closed due to COVID-19 situation)

Please call us to get legal help (appointment time needed).

Sunshine

Visy Cares Hub, 80B Harvester Road, Sunshine VIC 3020

Tel: + 61 3 9091 8237
Fax: + 61 3 9091 8207
Email:  sunshine@westjustice.org.au

Office hours:
Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 9.30am-1.00pm and 2.00pm-4.30pm.

Drop-in service on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 9.30am-4.30pm, for people up to 25 years old ONLY.