MEDIA RELEASE Weds, 19 Nov 2008
Launch of free legal service for community organisations
The Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) will today launch ‘PilchConnect’, a free legal
service to benefit Victoria’s estimated 120,000 not-for-profit (NFP) community groups. PILCH
is itself an independent NFP organisation committed to furthering the public interest,
improving access to justice and protecting human rights.
Sue Woodward, Manager of PilchConnect, said PilchConnect will harness the pro bono
power of Australia’s leading law firms and provide NFPs with free and timely advice
specifically tailored to their needs.
“PilchConnect will help NFPs with answers to common legal problems so they have more
time and resources to devote to delivering their important services,” said Ms Woodward.
“Many NFPs are at the coal face of service delivery to Victoria’s most marginalised and
disadvantaged people, while others bring people together to pursue a common interest and
are the bedrock of local communities. In the present economic climate, demand on the
services of these organisations will almost certainly increase.”
“The vast majority of non-profit organisations rely heavily on volunteers, have limited
resources, and want to focus their time and energy on core activities, not on trying to work out
their legal obligations. Yet these organisations must negotiate a complex regulatory system,”
said Ms Woodward.
PilchConnect has the backing of some of Australia’s foremost experts on the non-profit
sector, including Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes of the Australian Centre of Philanthropy
and Nonprofit Studies at Queensland University of Technology.
“The community sector is a hugely important sector, economically and socially. Many of the
people involved are struggling to achieve their aims in a regulatory environment which is more
complicated than for business,” Professor McGregor-Lowndes said.
Ms Cath Smith, CEO of the Victorian Council of Social Services, said PilchConnect would
help many of their members who struggled with legal red tape, and multiple and often
inconsistent reporting requirements.
“By providing plain language, practical and up-to-date legal information, PilchConnect will
help community groups to better understand and meet their obligations – improving their
efficiency and value,” she said.
Launch by the Hon. Brian Tee MLC
6.30pm on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 at Clayton Utz - Level 18, 333 Collins St
Moderated panel discussion and Q & A by Sue Woodward with Senator Ursula Stephens
(Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector), Ms Adele Ferguson
(Journalist, The Australian) and Prof Myles McGregor-Lowndes (Director, Australian Centre
for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, QUT).
The panel discussion is being digitally recorded and will be available for streaming via
Sue Woodward, Manager PilchConnect
(03) 9225 6680 / 0419 347 997, email@example.com
Mat Tinkler, Acting PILCH Executive Director
(03) 9225 6681 / 0438 595 049, firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof Myles McGregor-Lowdnes
Director, Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, Queensland University of
(07) 3138 2936
Ms Cath Smith
Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Council of Social Services
(03) 9654 5050