Queensland has 34 not-for-profit community legal centres dotted across the state.
They have a long, established history of harnessing volunteer support and providing pro bono legal advice and assistance to society’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable people and communities.
Volunteering Queensland – the state’s chief non-profit volunteer and community engagement organisation – estimates that as many as 700,000 of the state’s 5.18 million people give freely of their time each year to make an extraordinary impact on the people, communities and environments in which they live.
Many of these are lawyers.
QLS Proctor is featuring some of the many selfless members of the profession who regularly give back to their local communities.
Ellie Taylor – tertiary law and science student
What motivated you to become a CLC volunteer?
I’m studying a dual degree in law and science and felt I had skills that I could use to assist Community Legal Centres Queensland (CLCQ) with its valuable work. As a peak body, CLCQ has an important role in the community legal sector. This sector is fundamentally concerned with assisting people dealing with difficult situations which is such an important role. I am glad to give my time to assisting CLCQ improve this sector.
What does your volunteering role involve?
My main role is to answer calls from people who are seeking legal advice. I listen to their problems and refer them to a community legal centre which is well suited to assist them. I also provide assistance to CLCQ staff with other ad hoc tasks relating to the day-to-day running of the organisation, or projects that CLCQ is working on.
What do you most enjoy about volunteering?
I enjoy working with people who are community-minded and are compassionate about helping people!
What have you gained – personally and professionally – from volunteering at a CLC?
I’ve found that I’ve been able to improve my communication skills by using them in a new context. I talk to people who are in need, who are dealing with stressful situations and who are sometimes emotional. This is challenging, at times, but has taught me the importance of empathy and compassion. I have also gained a deeper understanding of the community legal sector in Queensland. Prior to volunteering at CLCQ, I did not know about the really valuable role that community legal centres play in assisting people in need.
Do you find volunteering work significant, impactful or rewarding? If so, why?
I find my work rewarding, knowing that I’m helping people with sometimes serious legal issues. People are often at a loss as to who to contact about their problems and are grateful to receive a referral to an organisation that can provide assistance.