Lawyers recognised for human rights work

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The annual Law Award finalists for legal professionals providing pro bono support to those in need have been announced by the Human Rights Commission.

The winner, to be crowned at the 2015 Human Rights Awards, will be an individual or an organisation who aims to promote and advance Australia’s human rights through the practice of law.

“One of the fundamental aspects of a democracy is access to justice and to legal advice,” Human Rights Commission president Professor Gillian Triggs said in a statement yesterday.

“The five finalists for the 2015 Law Award have promoted these rights through their work, providing free legal services to refugees and asylum seekers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and others in the community in need.”

The 2015 finalists are:

Colin Biggers & Paisley, recognised for the establishment of its new Colin Biggers & Paisley Foundation, comprised of an innovative mix of pro bono legal services, volunteering and charitable contributions.  It aims to donate more than $5 million in pro bono legal services.

Luke Geary, founder and managing partner of Salvos Legal and Salvos Legal Humanitarian.  The social enterprise model is self-sustaining and allows for free legal advice to be offered, independent of government funding and donations.

Genevieve Bolton, coordinator and principal solicitor at Canberra Community Law who has dedicated her career to improving access to justice and is a powerful advocate for systemic change.

Aboriginal Legal Service NSW / ACT Custody Notification Service, a 24-hour legal advice and RU OK phone line for Aboriginal people taken into police custody.  The service has successfully prevented Aboriginal deaths in custody in NSW and the ACT.

Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS), one of Australia’s leading refugee legal centres providing free, specialist legal advice to asylum seekers and refugees.  RACS continues to provide a breadth of legal and case management services, while advocating for systemic reform.