Law School students visit the Eyre Peninsula

A group photo of the students of the regional tour with Justin Slater

On Tuesday 20 September 2022, a group of 13 students and 4 staff from the Adelaide Law School embarked on a four-day regional tour to explore the exciting, but often overlooked, employment opportunities that exist in regional and Aboriginal communities throughout South Australia.

Over the four days, the group met with local lawyers, community Elders, government representatives and numerous legal service providers, as well as representatives from other industries such as realty and the media. The aim was to highlight the valuable employment opportunities that exist outside of Adelaide and to showcase the amazing scenery and lifestyles that regional living can offer.

Day 1

Group photo of students with members of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement

Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (SA)

The tour started off in Pt Pirie meeting with Michelle Ford, Managing Lawyer of Westside Lawyers, who spoke about access to justice in the mid north and the role of community legal centres. The group also heard from Mr Alan Zubrinich, Deputy Mayor of Pt Pirie and Workforce and Industry Coordinator Regional Development Australia (Yorke and Mid North), who spoke about the lifestyle opportunities in Pt Pirie and surrounds. 

The group visited the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (SA) in Pt Augusta and heard from staff and Aboriginal Elders about the unique opportunities and challenges that working with Aboriginal clients in the APY Lands and the remote northern areas of SA can bring. Among the speakers were lawyers Jo Smith, Emma Lewis and Mark Grogan, as well as field officer Peter Jackson and financial counsellor and administrator Ralph Coulthard. 

Day 1 finished with a networking dinner at the Standpipe Motel which was attended by the Hon Rowan Ramsey, federal member for Grey, and Scott Roche and Brittany Law from the Pt Augusta and Whyalla branches of the Legal Services Commission respectively. The students got to hear about the diverse issues facing regional SA, and heard firsthand about the work that the Legal Services Commission undertake. 

Day 2

The first stop in Pt Lincoln on Day 2 was to hear from Mr Jack Johncock, a highly respected Aboriginal Elder, who led an inspiring session on Aboriginal culture and the issues facing Aboriginal people in his community. The day ended with informal placements in two local firms, Mellor Olsson and Tindall Gask Bentley Lawyers, where students engaged in a practical exercise replicating the regional work that both firms do on a daily basis. A big thank you to Erin O’Brien of Mellor Olsson and Rob Muecke of TGB and colleagues for hosting our students. 

Day 3

Students sharing a meal at the Port Lincoln Marina Hotel

On Day 3, our group heard from Justin Slater of Coates Lawyers and Julie Detchon of Family Violence Legal Service Aboriginal Corporation (SA) (FVLSAC). Both Justin and Julie spoke about the access to justice issues on the Eyre Peninsula, and both spoke about the fantastic lifestyle opportunities and the work life balance that living in Pt Lincoln can provide. 

Our group then had ‘free time’ to explore Pt Lincoln and its surrounds. Students were able to visit local cafes and restaurants, explore local beaches and the National Parks, come face to face with an emu, and swim with a seal!

Day 3 ended with a fantastic dinner at the Pt Lincoln Hotel where the group hosted local lawyers: Erin O’Brien, Georgia Hamood-Smith and Lydia Ho (from Mellor Olsson), Rob Muecke (from TGB), Greg Nicholls (from Bartell & Hall), and Julie Detchon and Kate McShane (from FVLSAC). The dinner gave the students a unique opportunity to speak to the local lawyers in a more casual setting about the work that they do, and what it is like living and practicing in the country. 

Day 4

Pop up legal clinic team - India, Rebecca and Natasha

Pop up legal clinic team - India, Rebecca and Natasha

Our final day started with a ‘Living in Lincoln’ session where the group heard about some of the practicalities of relocating to the country. We heard from real estate agent Shane Merchant (of Kemp Real Estate), planning consultant Jess Burns (of OpenPlan Consulting), television journalist Henry Milic (of 7 Spencer Gulf Nightly News) and journalist Dylan Smith (of ABC Eyre Peninsula) about their respective journeys on relocating to the Pt Lincoln area. Shane also provided practical advice regarding the local property market, and all discussed the steps they took to get involved in their new communities.

Our last event of the trip was a tour of the Pt Lincoln Magistrates Court with Registrar Vicki White where the group heard about the operation of the circuit court and the use of the Audio Visual Link system for court proceedings. 

Three students, under the supervision of Adjunct Lecturer Dr Ross Savvas, also ran a pop-up clinic at the Pt Lincoln Magistrates Court where the students provided free legal advice to a number of Pt Lincoln clients. It was a great pleasure for the Adelaide Law School to be able to help the local community. 

Wrap up

Coffin Bay National Park

After 4 busy days, visiting 3 regional cities, and over 1,300kms in a bus, the group gained a deeper understanding of the access to justice issues that exist in regional areas, and were impressed by the amazing career opportunities that exist beyond the city limits. 

We would like to thank all of our guests who hosted our students, gave presentations and attended our sessions. We would also like to give a big thank you to the Law Foundation of South Australia who generously funded this trip. The support and goodwill of all involved ensured that this trip was an outstanding success!

Tagged in News, regional trip, students, law, Aboriginal communities

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