The University of Newcastle Legal Centre's highly successful Law on the Beach program will expand this year, with representatives from local support agencies joining students to provide free advice to beachgoers.
Each summer, under the supervision of the University of Newcastle Legal Centre's lawyers, students tackle legal issues for people, including divorces, victims' compensation, discrimination cases, tenancy disputes, wills and consumer matters.
For the first time, representatives from the Family Relationships Centre, Centrelink, and the Hunter Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service will work alongside the students.
Director of the Legal Centre, Mr Shaun McCarthy, said the continued success of the Law on the Beach program prompted the University to invite the support agencies.
"Over the past five years, we've found that a good deal of our work has involved directing clients to the appropriate support agencies," Mr McCarthy said.
"Many people come to us seeking advice on family law matters, not realising that a mediation process is compulsory in some cases before the case can go to court. So while the University of Newcastle Legal Centre can advise clients of their legal rights, representatives from the external agencies can provide additional advice about the mediation process.
"By expanding the Law on the Beach program we are minimising the referral roundabout and improving the provision of legal advice."
Mr McCarthy said support agencies also had their own niche and it was important for students to think outside the square and consider some of the other issues affecting a client, such as financial worries.
Law on the Beach is an annual program providing students with a hands-on learning opportunity. It is just one of the avenues through which the University of Newcastle Legal Centre provides free legal advice and assistance to the community including ongoing, free consultations at their office throughout the year.
Law on the Beach will run from 10am to 3pm on Wednesday 14, 21 and 28 January and 4 and 11 February 2009 at the Club Room at the southern end of the pavilion, Newcastle Beach. The Law on the Beach sessions operate as a drop-in clinic so appointments are not necessary.
For interviews: Shaun McCarthy, University of Newcastle Legal Centre Director, on 02 4921 8813.