Mackay Regional Community Legal Centre Inc. (MRCLC) is celebrating its 20th birthday, and marking two decades of extraordinary growth.
The centre provides free and confidential legal advice, information, referrals, and representation to financially disadvantaged people primarily in the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac regions – an area of more than 90,000 square kilometres and more than 180,000 people.
At its AGM on November 10, MRCLC Manager and Principal Solicitor Jessica Brake spoke of her pride at the Central Queensland charity’s efforts since its incorporation and official launch in 2003.
Jessica said the centre had grown from two volunteer Legal Advice Evening clinics a month at a local neighbourhood centre in 2004, to now having seven staff, including four full-time solicitors, at a permanent office in the city centre.
Initially a board member and volunteer at MRCLC, Jessica took on her paid role in 2010, initiating the centre’s growth over the next few years by establishing outreach to Proserpine, Cannonvale and Bowen, and more recently, to Sarina and Moranbah.
Since 2015, she has driven MRCLC’s expansion into specific legal services, including the Queensland Statewide Tenant Advice and Referral Service; Domestic and Family Violence Duty Lawyer Service; Mental Health Review Tribunal Representation Service; Elder Abuse Prevention and Support Service; and Family Advocacy and Support Service.
“Over this time we have also delivered community legal education on numerous topics, mostly on family law, domestic violence, wills, estates and EPOAs, and currently I am delivering a presentation with Bravehearts,” Jessica said.
“So we have kept busy!”
She said in the 2022-23 financial year, MRCLC completed 1658 legal advices, 108 legal tasks, 186 domestic and family violence duty lawyer services at the Mackay Magistrates Court, and 43 ongoing casework matters.
Jessica said the support of volunteers was appreciated “immensely”.
“With their support we are able to assist more clients than we otherwise could,” she said.
“Unfortunately there is still quite a gap in the services people need and those that we can deliver, but we know we make a significant difference to many.
“I am very proud to have been the Manager and Principal Solicitor for 13 of these 20 years the MRCLC has been incorporated.
“The initial establishment and amount of growth over that time is attributed to many amazing volunteers, management committee and dedicated staff.
“I look forward to continuing to expand our services in our region for the benefit of our community.”
Mackay Regional Community Legal Centre is seeking volunteers. For details, visit the website here.