New program area to address disadvantage

New program area to address disadvantage

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

As part of our ongoing commitment to economic and social justice, we have established an Economic and Social Rights Program in our Civil Justice directorate, and recently appointed two key new leadership roles to the program.

Joel Townsend is the new Program Manager, Economic and Social Rights Program and Damian Stock has been appointed Managing Lawyer, Economic and Social Rights Program.

As Program Manager, Joel will play a leading role in our work ensuring the protection and promotion of economic and social rights and legal issues that most affect disadvantaged Victorians’ standard of living. He will be ably assisted by Damian, who will be responsible for the delivery of high-quality legal services across the state, and manage an expert team in Melbourne focusing on issues including social security, infringement fines, tenancy and National Disability Insurance Scheme matters.

Both managers bring a wealth of experience to their new roles, with Joel having been a lawyer in the Civil Justice directorate since 2007, Acting Director of Civil Justice for 2011, and most recently Program Manager of our Social Inclusion and Migration programs.

Damian also brings a strong background to his role, having led and worked in the Social Inclusion team, represented clients at the Tenants Union and worked as a lawyer at Allens Arthur Robinson.

Damian Stock, Rowan McRae, Joel Townsend
(L–R) Managing Lawyer Economic and Social Rights Program Damian Stock; Executive Director Civil Justice, Access and Equity Rowan McRae; and Program Manager Economic and Social Rights Program Joel Townsend

Executive Directors Civil Justice, Access and Equity, Rowan McRae and Melanie Schleiger said the new program will bring together our long-standing work on legal issues that most affect the standard of living of disadvantaged Victorians, including social security, tenancy, significant infringement fines and our growing National Disability Insurance Scheme practice.

‘According to legal needs research, these issues commonly have a major impact on people’s lives, and combined with criminal law issues, form the largest part of our work.

‘Helping people to get the basics like housing, income and other supports right will assist them to live better lives and participate in the community, and enable people who are caught up in the criminal justice system to deal with the causes of offending.

‘The establishment of the new program demonstrates our desire to structure our work around the legal needs of clients, and not just the different areas of law that their problems may fall into,’ said Rowan.

A particular focus of the program will be linking with our growing civil justice practice in suburban and regional areas. We'll also continue to strengthen our relationships with community legal centres and private lawyers working in these areas.

‘In naming the program ‘Economic and Social Rights’, we are recognising that access to decent housing, social security and income is a basic human rights issue – our work is not just to help people with individual legal issues, but to have an impact on the enjoyment of these important rights for all disadvantaged Victorians,’ said Melanie.

More information

Read more about what we do.

Was this helpful?