BCLS often works with other Victorian and National Legal Centres. Last year over 9 weeks from August to October, an informal training secondment program was set up between BCLS and Social Security Rights Victoria*. Our lawyer, Elsie Stokie, trekked to Melbourne for a day each week to experience a barrage of social security problems and learn as much as possible.
The highlights of the secondment included getting to know everyone at SSRV and learning a lot more about social security law, especially relating to Disability Support Pensions. Elsie even had the opportunity to represent a client in a second tier Administrative Appeals Tribunal hearing. This exposure to an organisation with such a high level of expertise in the area of Social Security has meant that Elsie brings back to our office a wealth of knowledge for clients and fellow staff members.
Elsie also enjoyed working in a different environment, taking adventures down Brunswick Street and sampling some of the marvelous food on sale at every second shop and finding out what it is like to be a commuter to the big smoke. On her last morning workers arrived to find that the plaster ceiling had collapsed in the main work room. Luckily, no-one had started work so there were no injuries. The day went on almost as normal, with everyone working in the corridor or piled into another room. This is just one example of the hard work and dedication of the employees and volunteers at SSRV and across the CLC sector -the show must go on!
Overall, Elsie found the program really positive and enjoyed the opportunity to experience the different surroundings and learn new things.
*SSRV is situated in the Fitzroy Town Hall, a restored heritage building, on the same floor as Fitzroy Legal Service. SSRV provides a state-wide telephone advice service and some assistance for social security matters, having a paid staff of four and numerous trained students and other volunteers. (PH: 03 9481 0355)