Collaborating for the benefit of our community

Collaborating for the benefit of our community

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Amanda Storey, Consumer Action Law Centre and Sejal Amin, Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre
Amanda Storey, director of Legal Practice, Consumer Action Law Centre and Sejal Amin, senior coordinating lawyer, Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre

As senior community legal centre lawyers, Amanda Storey and Sejal Amin both share a passion for helping people, in the face of unfairness and vulnerability.

‘I get great satisfaction in assisting those in need and I get greater satisfaction when I have assisted in making a difference in someone’s life,’ said Sejal, the senior coordinating lawyer at Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre.

As the director of Legal Practice at Consumer Action Law Centre, Amanda leads a team of 13 lawyers who 'who strive to create a just marketplace where people have power and businesses play fair.'

Sejal and Amanda brought their passion and insights of the community’s needs, as the first participants from the community legal centre sector in Victoria Legal Aid’s (VLA's) leadership and management program LAMP.

The six-month program is designed to boost the capability and performance of managers in a peer learning environment through feedback, lectures, course work and projects.

Going into the program, Amanda said she was “looking forward to receiving some practical tools on how to respond to management and leadership challenges.’

‘Working in the community sector gives rise to challenging issues of funding and resourcing,’ said Sejal.

‘These lead to organisational challenges that impact not only on individuals in the team, but also on service delivery and therefore relationships with key stakeholders.

‘I was hoping that LAMP would provide me with the appropriate understanding and skills to be able to lead in this complex environment where, at times, the interests of the relevant people may be in conflict,’ said Sejal.

As part of LAMP, Amanda and Sejal contributed to a group project designed to improve collaboration between VLA and the community legal centre sector.

‘The legal assistance landscape is confusing,’ said Amanda.

‘VLA and CLCs service similar client groups so it is critical that vulnerable clients find the best service to help them with their legal problem to minimise the referral roundabout.

Due to its size and resources, VLA is in a unique position to work alongside CLCs to share resources and create the best referral pathways for our clients,’ said Amanda.

Sejal agreed, saying ‘we work in the same sector and essentially set out to achieve the same goals – to provide quality legal services to the marginally disadvantaged and vulnerable members of our community; and advocate for systemic change.

‘It is important for VLA and CLCs to work collaboratively to achieve these goals.’

Their project identified several ways to improve collaboration including:

  • gaining a better understanding of each other’s work through joint training, shadowing or secondments, referral pathways and social gatherings
  • jointly conducting community legal education
  • collaborating on law reform and systemic advocacy.

'Collaboration needs commitment and resourcing from both agencies to make sure the partnership is meeting the goals of the project and ultimately delivering better outcomes to clients,’ said Amanda.

‘A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is just one tool to reach this goal, but even informal and social catch-ups can improve relationships within the sector.’

‘The invitation to CLCs to participate in LAMP demonstrates the positive attitude VLA has towards a collaborative relationship and the value it places on it,’ Sejal said.

‘Having Sejal and Amanda participate in LAMP extended our knowledge of issues faced by our practice partners, and gave us a greater connection between VLA and the CLC sector as a whole,’ said Fiona Hiscock, Manager of Learning and Organisational Development at VLA.

‘We look forward to welcoming CLC participants into future programs,’ said Fiona.

Both Amanda and Sejal say they’re using the skills and knowledge gained through LAMP to lead their teams in delivering high-quality services for the community.   

More information

Consumer Action Law Centre

Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre

Was this helpful?