National online legal service recognised for child protection

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The National Children’s and Youth Law Centre, Australia’s only national and online legal advice service has received recognition from the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect at the Play Your Part awards.

As part of child protection week, NCYLC, a partnership made up of UNSW Law, King & Wood Mallesons, the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, Telstra and ASIC, won the award for initiatives Lawmail and Lawstuff, providing free and confidential legal advice to young people.

“We are the only national legal centre for children and of what that means is we help solve young people’s problems and by doing that, we help remove a lot of the mental health issues that they confront,” said NCYLC director, Matthew Keeley.

“What we all combine to do is provide legal resources online, legal advice and assistance and sometimes representation to children and young people across the country.”

With community legal centre and legal aid not necessarily available to young people everywhere, the services reach a wide range of young people in need.

“Because of our national reach, we chose to provide our services online and to use our significant reach through our website and young people’s tendency to search for information about their problems online, as our key strategy to access young people,” said Keeley.
“We have seen exponential growth in demand.”

But for Keeley, the award isn’t just all about the recognition.

Currently, four in 10 15 – 17 year olds are facing a legal problem.  With the number of queries the centre receives is continuously increasing, the successful online service is on the verge of reaching capacity.

“Hopefully we will attract some additional pro bono and financial support from the legal profession and the private sector,” said Keeley.
“We are hopeful that the recognition provided by this award might cause other agencies – law firms and private enterprise – to contact us and to seek to partner with us.”