Docstoc

About the project

Document Sample
About the project Powered By Docstoc
					 The Family Law and CALD Communities
                 Project

Community legal education in partnership with new and
            emerging migrant communities
Project Objectives

Primary objectives
    Within a framework which respects cultural diversity and
    encourages dialogue about difference the project develops
    community legal education programs to:
a) promote understanding of the Australian family law system
    among CALD communities
b) promote the ability of individuals to make informed choices
c) promote understanding of how to access and comply with
    the Australian legal system among CALD communities
Project Objectives

Secondary intended outcome
  That the information shared by CALD communities
  regarding their own cultural, religious and legal
  backgrounds, their perceptions of the Australian legal
  system and concerns about accessing the Australian
  legal system be made available to legal practitioners,
  educators and policy officers to inform their work and
  enhance their capacity to work with CALD
  communities.
Why a dedicated project?

• Divorce, property settlement, children’s living arrangements,
  family violence, child protection are all of community issues –
  just as relevant to Australian community as a whole as they
  are to CALD communities.
• Language barriers can be addressed through interpreters.
• Well established ETU (3.5 FTE staff) responsible for training,
  publications, updating the Law Handbook Online.
• SO WHY A SPECIALIST PROJECT?
Why a dedicated project?

• Laws of countries of origin are often vastly different to
  Australia’s laws
• Learning Australian law is but one issue that recent
  migrants & refugees grapple with (settlement issues
  of housing, education, employment, language,
  dislocation, ongoing trauma etc.)
• Ongoing networking and consultation with
  communities are vital yet time intensive
Why a dedicated project (cont)

 Laws around marriage, divorce, children, property settlement, dowries/bride
 prices, family violence, child protection are often vastly different in other
 societies. Considering that new migrants confront multiple challenges
 (housing, education, language, employment, trauma, dislocation, separation
 from family, racism), understanding Australia’s laws is but one of many
 issues facing refugees, humanitarian entrants and other new migrants from
 new and emerging communities. CLE for new migrant communities is not
 about adding information about laws into a blank space. It is generally about
 untangling. New and emerging migrant community members are often
 surprised that laws they lived with/under do not only not apply in Australia,
 and that Australian laws will sometimes be completely opposite to the laws of
 their countries of origin or refuge.
    Project Overview
Stage One – Pilot Program
• Project defined
    – High level sponsorship (Board of Commissioners, Director, Law Foundation)
    – Strategic partnership-Migrant Resource Centre & Multicultural Communities Council
    – Funding for 0.5 FTE Worker (Law Foundation of SA)
• Needs analysis
    – Research
    – Reference Group
    – Community Consultation
• Education programs
    – Building relationships
    – Education methodology
    – Content (depends on individual community)
Reference group

• Made up of representatives from key stakeholders: Multicultural Communities
  Council, Migrant Resource Centre, Multicultural Sa, Migrant Women’s
  Support and Accommodation Service, Survivors of Torture and Trauma
  Assistance and Rehabilitation Service, Family Court (SA Registry), SA Child
  Services (Families SA)
• Reference Group supported project worker to:
   – identify CALD communities with greatest need for family law information
      (metro based African, Asian and Middle Eastern communities)
   – foster communication & relationships with priority communities
   – conduct consultations with priority communities
Community consultations

•   Consultations with 3 broad community groups (as
    identified by Reference Group - African, Asian and
    Middle Eastern communities)
•   Two critical outcomes:
      1. Project’s understanding of community needs improved
      2. Project gained trust & credibility
Community consultations
logistics

 • Hosted at Migrant Resource Centre
 • Community leaders and ethno-specific community workers participated in the
   consultation (project revised communication methods)
 • Case studies to identify attitudes & knowledge around family dynamics in
   Australia, marriage traditions, children’s issues, separation, divorce, property
   settlement, mediation, family violence
 • Seated in groups of 4-7 to discuss case studies – one facilitator per group to
   clarify case studies/ explain Australian law/ record participants’ responses
 • NAATI accredited interpreters
Community consultations

• Consultations held with aim of project learning:
   – participants’ traditional means of dealing with family
     law situations, taking into account cultural, religious
     and community issues
   – current understanding of Australian family law
   – information needs of each community
Key findings

• Many participants felt that:
   – mainstream services do not respect and are not
     interested to learn cultural
     practices/experiences/beliefs of new and emerging
     migrant communities
   – mainstream services tend to group ‘Asians’, ‘Africans’
     or ‘Middle Easterners’ homogenously, without thought
     for individual needs and complexities within groups –
     the participants
Key findings

 – general distrust of government structures and fear of being
   judged, misunderstood and/or further victimised (Police,
   lawyers, counselling & mediation services, complaints bodies)
 – community workers, leaders and members want to know and
   trust presenters/ educators/ facilitators especially when dealing
   with sensitive topics like child protection and family violence
 – concern that mainstream services are keen to consult and
   collect information about CALD communities, but less
   enthusiastic to provide appropriate services after a consultation
Key findings

 – mainstream services must be aware that life in
   Australia is very different from life in a refugee camp
   (from household appliances used daily in Australia
   being new and unfamiliar, to health/medical practices),
   monitor our assumptions and prejudices
 – when help is needed in Australia an appointment is
   necessary (often an alien concept)
Key findings

 – hunger for factual, clear and relevant information on
   Australian laws, regardless of how these laws might
   contradict religious or cultural beliefs which is
    • delivered in participants’ own language (using interpreters)
    • presented by people who are sensitive to and respectful of
      participants’ culture and who have some understanding of
      the life participants left behind in their countries of origin
Building relationships

• Education programs

         •Building relationships
         •Education methodology
         •Content (depends on
         individual community)
Education Program Methodology


• Workshop form
• Interactive, designed to match language skills and educational
  background of group
• Accredited interpreters
• Use of culturally appropriate fictional stories/ case studies to
  identify legal issues and resolutions (foster privacy of group
  members by avoiding individual group members’ experiences)
• Participants generate culturally traditional dispute resolution
  options and those available through Australian legal system
Stage Two – Project Overview

 –   Education programs continue
       –   Increased staffing allows for more participatory models of CLE
       –   Ongoing consultation (in CLE preparation and formal participant
           evaluation)
 –   Publication of Legal Education Kit
What does the Project look like?

• 3 person team designs and delivers customised legal
  education sessions on Australian Family Law to CALD
  communities in SA
   – 1 Legal Education Officer (1FTE)
   – 2 Bi-cultural administrative officers (1FTE)

• Part of the Commission’s Education & Training Unit
Four case studies

1. Enough is Enough
2. Introduction to Australian Family Law - A workshop
   for Shia Muslim Religious and Community Leaders
3. Law for Interpreters Course
4. Liberian Women’s Family Violence Forum
5. Introduction to Australian Family Law – A workshop
   for African community members in partnership with
   the African Communities Council of SA (ACCSA)
         ‘Enough is Enough’
    The Nile Family Goes to Court

• Role play staged at the new Family Law Courts during
  Law Week 2006, in partnership with the Family Law
  Court’s Adelaide Registry staff and African community
  workers and leaders .
Enough is Enough

• Demonstrated various stages of the Family Law
  System, through the experiences of a fictional family
  of Liberian humanitarian entrants: marriage
  breakdown; traditional marriage counselling by
  community elders; intervention by a Liberian problem-
  solving committee; compulsory Family Court
  Mediation; and Interim Hearing which culminated in
  interim orders.
Enough is Enough

• Background
  – CALD Project represented on the African Families and
    Communities Group and worked closely with Family
    Law Courts (SA/NT Registry) staff on their Harmony
    Partnerships Programme
  – Law Week an opportunity to engage African
    communities in family law education
Enough is Enough

•   Needs analysis with African community workers and leaders revealed
     – Male is traditional head of family (including bread winner) but common in Australia for
        role reversal common to take place as women often find paid work and become the
        financial provider while males may struggle to find suitable employment
     – Females are often overloaded with both domestic chores on top of external work
     – Males often feel powerless in Australia
     – African women call on services to educate their men about law and society in
        Australia
     – Family violence of major concern to African women
     – ‘Bride price’ and its effect on separation, divorce, property settlement and children
     – In many African cultures children over 2yo remain with the husband’s family in the
        case of divorce
Enough is Enough

• Choosing the learning method
   – African culture is predominantly an oral/story telling
     culture with printed material having limited impact
   – Therefore theatre education useful
Enough is Enough

• Cast of African community workers and leaders
  contributed to the script which ensured that:
   – The scenario was familiar and topical
   – Appropriate language and cultural practices were
     showcased (e.g. Liberian problem solving committee)
   – Cast learnt about the Australian family law system
     (high impact considering their high community status)
   – Their communities attended the event
Enough is Enough

• Play DVD excerpt
• Note audience participation
Workshop with Shia Community
    and Religious Leaders

• Background
  – Invitation from DIMA to educate Shia religious and
    community leaders on Australian marriage and divorce
    laws
  – In response to May 2006 DIMA consultation with Shia
    Imams who inferred that marriages and divorces are
    solemnized in South Australia by Imams in accordance
    with Sharia, but without satisfying the Marriage Act or
    Family Law Act
 Shia Community and Religious
          Leaders

• The CALD Project conducted a needs analysis with
  community leaders from the two major Shia
  nationality/ethnic groups in SA – the Iraqi and Hazara
  Afghan groups
 Shia Community and Religious
          Leaders

• Learning objectives devised with the community leaders before workshop:
   – understand how to complete a legally valid marriage in Australia
   – know the options available for resolving family relationship problems (via
     legal/ courts system and other)
   – understand how to divorce in Australian (plus difference between divorce &
     property settlement)
   – understand the options (via legal system & other) available to settle care of
     children upon separation
   – understand the basic principles of the FLA in relation to children
   – understand that family disputes do not inevitably have to end in court system
     (i.e. most families make private agreements )
   – know where to get legal advice, assistance & representation
 Shia Community and Religious
          Leaders

• Workshop learning method adopted, using story
  telling scenarios
• See Shia Workshop PowerPoint handouts from page
  2.
Law for Interpreters Course

• The Commission partnered TafeSA Interpreters
  Preparatory Course to work with interpreting students
  from new and emerging migrant communities
• Access to justice for new and emerging migrant
  communities impossible without good quality, reliable
  and accredited interpreters
Law for Interpreters Course

• Alarming fall off rates of N&E community interpreters
   – poor pay for legal interpreting jobs
   – N&E communities interpreters often fled countries of origin due
      to legal system/ government
   – vastly different legal systems, court procedures, legal concepts &
      terms (standards of proof etc.)
   – Infrequent work equals drop in skills and confidence
• After listening to students’ fears/concerns the project placed
  emphasis on practical, action based learning
• Designed and facilitated moot court workshops for the course
Law for Interpreters Course

• Partnership between TafeSa, Commission & SA Courts
  Administration Authority
• Simulated exercises such as the mock trials (with magistrate
  generously participating) are crucial from a training
  perspective and particularly critical for prospective
  interpreters, many of whom had bad experiences with the
  justice system in their countries of origin.
• New initiative being developed in partnership with SA state
  courts to do follow up training and development for N&E
  community interpreters
Liberian Women’s Forum
on Family Violence

• Previous workshop concept driven – some
  consequent confusion and concern
• Practical information delivered via concrete examples
• In partnership with SAPOL
• Monthly sessions scheduled for next 3 months
African Communities Council SA
Intro to Australian Family Law

• What not to do!
• Workshop prepared in response to ACCSA invitation
• Poor attendance by African community
• No partnership between project and attendees
• No pre-workshop consultation with attendees or
  leaders
• Insufficient relationship between community and
  Project
What we have learned

What closed doors can participatory CLE open for new and emerging migrants?
• Empowering through participation and quality informtaion removes
  misconceptions and thus reduces fear, promotes a sense of welcome,
  belonging, healing in Australia
• Building CALD community members’ trust in institutions (police, legal aid,
  complaints authorities such as HEREOC) promotes a sense of safety and
  thus empowers
• When new and emerging migrant community members discover that most
  traditional practices co-exist with Australian law allows for full self expression
  of their religious and cultural identities – very powerful part in the
  resettlement for people who are often still dealing with trauma
What we have learned

Credibility
• Get out of the office into the community to meet people on
  their own ground.
• Build trusting relationships. Foster trust throughout the CLE
  process.
• Ask for feedback and keep checking that what you’re
  delivering is what the community actually wants and needs
• One size does not fit all – be mindful of diversity of cultural
  practices, religious beliefs, language barriers between and
  among community groups.
What we have learned

Acknowledge
• Be upfront - the Australian family law system is one of
  many family law systems throughout the world and is
  not inherently any more sensible or fair than any
  other
• Speak to commitments not concerns
What we have learned

Participatory
• Have the CLE be community driven and participatory
• View CLE process as a loop or holographic – do not
  think of the final session as the outcome or ‘the
  moment’ of CLE
• Family law is an excellent place from which to build a
  bridge to the Australian legal system and laws in
  general
What we have learned

Relevant and useful
• Many people perceive the law as boring and irrelevant to their
  lives of problems. Ensure the CLE content is practical and
  relevant. That it relates directly to the community members’
  lives and addresses their immediate needs. Use concrete
  examples.
• Have participants use their own knowledge base.
• Use the language of the community (you will only know this
  from strong community participation in the CLE development).
What we have learned

• Utilise existing structures, work in partnership and
  pool resources (successful workshops & other events
  stem from partnership)
Practice Example –small groups
 Case Study
 You are a legal educator in a community legal centre. You are contacted by a community worker from a
     local community organisation funded to provide settlement support to new migrants.
 The community worker notices that many of his African clients physically discipline their children, often
     hitting them with sticks. The community worker is concerned for the children and worried about legal
     consequences for the parents.
 The community worker tells you about a Liberian family whose 12 year old son is having difficulty in
     school. He is receiving negative reports and getting into fights with other children and being
     disruptive. The school has told the parents and the parents are upset. They migrated to give their
     children a better life. Negative reports from school are viewed extremely seriously. The father
     attempts to remedy the situation. He disciplines the boy physically, with a stick. The school principal
     becomes aware of this incident and tells the parents he has made a mandated notification to Child
     Services. The parents are fearful the government will take their child away from them.
 The community worker tells you that this family’s experiences and fears are not uncommon. He asks you
     to provide community legal education around child protection for his organisation’s African clients.
 Describe how you would develop this community legal education.
 You may wish to consider:
       How would I conduct a needs analysis?
       How would I define any behaviour changes that people want to achieve from the process?
       What content should be included?
       What learning methods should I use?
       How can I make the process participatory?
Where to from here?

•   Ethno–specific educators
•   Continual project evaluation
•   Knowledge sharing/ Legal Education Kit
•   A new project title?!
   Project Contact Details
Kate Howard
Legal Education Officer
Legal Services Commission of SA
howard.kate@saugov.sa.gov.au
(08) 8463 3396
GPO Box 1718 ADELAIDE SA 5001
www.lsc.sa.gov.au
Feedback & Questions