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Champion of the homeless wins 2005 Human Rights Law Award

Commission Commission – General

9 December 2005

Champion of the homeless wins 2005 Human Rights Law Award

PILCH Homeless Persons' Legal Clinic, who provide free legal assistance to and advocacy on behalf of people who are homeless, has won the 2005 Human Rights Law Award (sponsored by the Law Council of Australia).

Established in 2001, the legal clinic (a project of the Public Interest Law Clearing House - Victoria) has succeeded in promoting the human rights of homeless people, reducing the degree to which homeless people are marginalised and providing sustainable pathways out of homelessness by addressing the underlying causes. The clinic also conducts research and legal advocacy on behalf of homeless people, training and community consultation.

Legal services are provided in areas of civil, administrative and summary criminal law by pro-bono lawyers from high-profile law firms, and funding through the Victorian Department of Justice is supplemented by donations and fundraising, court costs, and other fees. In the last financial year, more than 75 per cent of its 431 cases were resolved successfully.

These are some of the most marginalised, powerless and forgotten people in Australia - and for many, their lives have been transformed by the tireless work of the lawyers working for this legal clinic.

One entry was highly commended - Simon Rice OAM. Simon has devoted many years to bringing human rights into the consciousness of Australians - primarily through his role as President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights.

A devoted advocate of human rights, he has been a volunteer, employee and board member of community legal centres, a supporter of asylum seekers, an advocate for a bill of rights, a legal educator, a legal practitioner who pursued the first racial vilification case in NSW among many other human rights cases, and is a vocal and respected commentator on human rights and equal opportunity issues.

The prestigious Human Rights Medal was also presented at the ceremony, along with awards for Community, Arts Non-Fiction, Television, Print Media and Radio (sponsored by SBS Radio). For full details:

Media contact: Paul Oliver 02 9284 9880 or 0408 469 347

updated 9 December 2005.