PNG lawyers gain CLC insights

Papua New Guinean lawyers Emma Minimbi and Nadika Popena visited Cairns Community Legal Centre as part of a study tour.

Residents in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) will soon benefit from the lessons and experience of Queensland’s Community Legal Centres.

Five CLCs recently hosted PNG lawyers Emma Minimbi and Nadika Popena as part of the duo’s study tour of Australian centres. The women are establishing Hope Pro Bono, a legal organisation to provide free legal services to citizens in the entire Highlands region including South Highlands Province and Simbu Province.

Its main aim will be to provide legal representation for victims and survivors of Gender Based Violence and Sorcery Accusations Relation Violence.

Cairns Community Legal Centre (CCLC) Principal Solicitor Melanie Wilson said her centre was honoured to demonstrate how it delivered its services and to contribute to such an important initiative.

Melanie said the visit involved an introduction to the core operational aspects of running the centre.

“From a professional practice perspective, we took the delegates through our legal practice and risk management processes, which involved in-depth discussions with the Principal Solicitor as well as the shadowing of our lawyers as they undertook the every-day delivery of services both at our office and at court,” she said.


“We showed the delegates our community education and community legal education practices, providing a demonstration of one of our sessions designed specifically for First Nations communities.

“From a centre administration and management standpoint, our Finance and Administration Manager took the delegates through our client intake, database management and general documentation management systems, providing examples of the way in which we run the centre on a day-to-day basis.”

Emma and Nadika’s visit from 21 April to 2 May also took in Caxton Legal Centre (Brisbane), Women’s Legal Service Queensland (Brisbane), Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (Brisbane), and North Queensland Women’s Legal Service (Cairns). 

“For our centre, it was a valuable opportunity to receive feedback on how our organisation is perceived by newcomers to the sector and also to see how we compare to other, larger (and better resourced) community legal centres based in metropolitan areas,” Melanie said.

“It is also fulfilling to know that we were able to contribute in a small way to the establishment of a pro bono centre that will be undertaking such important work to some incredibly marginalised members of the community.”

Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ) Practice Director Meaghan Bradshaw said WLSQ was also pleased to be a part of the study tour, and shared Hope Pro Bono’s goal – a safer future for women and children.


“The Women’s Legal Service Queensland team enjoyed the opportunity to share the processes and practices that have been developed by the service over the last 40 years,” Meaghan said.

“The study tour also provided the team with the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing women in rural communities in Papua New Guinea.”

The study tour was a collaboration between Hope Pro Bono, Ashurst (which is providing legal and financial support for the centre) and Community Legal Centres Australia.

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2 Responses

  1. Well done Mel and I’m sure PNG will benefit greatly from your involvement and leadership in this specialist field. Ground breaking initiative !!!

  2. Nice work Ashurst. So good to see an Aussie firm contributing towards Pro Bono assistance in PNG.

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