Whittlesea Community House offering legal advice during Law Week

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Whittlesea Community Legal Service lead solicitor Chris Howse, left, Uniting Kildonan financial adviser Yath Youen and lawyer overseeing La Trobe University Law School Heather McLean gave a panel at the Whittlesea Community House for Law Week. My Elder Care Intake and Referral Officer, Snezana Mackovski, was another panelist.

It was a busy week at Whittlesea Community House, WCH, last week, with multiple events to recognize outstanding volunteers and provide advice to community members.

WCH held its monthly Fix it Friday on Friday, with this month receiving help from agencies from Whittlesea Community Legal Service, Expresso Legal, NDIS, My Aged Care, Whittlesea Police, Centrelink and the Lift program for mental health, among others.

WCH director Mary-Lynn Griffith said the idea behind Fix it Friday was to make it easy for community members to access help.

“Community members can come here and they can tell their story. If they have debts or fines [they have access] to a whole range of services and can get help,” she said.

“We want to re-humanize services so people aren’t stuck in call center queues on phones with no credit. That’s our main Fix it Friday goal.

Through Fix it Friday, it was found that older people often struggled to know where they stood with their relationships, were afraid to answer the phone because of scams, and struggled with d elder abuse and mental health issues.

A panel on Friday included attorney Heather McLean of La Trobe University School of Law, financial adviser Yath Youen, senior attorney Chris Howse and My Aged Care coordinator Snezana Mackovski answering questions from the community regarding the law and their legal rights.

The panel was organized in conjunction with Victorian Law Week and covered issues such as inheritance impatience, wills, powers of attorney, end-of-life planning, coercive control, reverse mortgages and deeds of mobile telephony.

Ms Griffith said recent events had caused many people to reconsider their future plans.

“I think more and more we’ve seen since the lockdown ended that people are blinking in the sun and realizing that they need to reconnect with each other and sort out the issues that they left behind for a few years” , she said.

“The pandemic has made people really think about their direction in life, to sort out their paperwork.

“We have community meals every Tuesday, among other events, and we find that at these events people feel relaxed and can actually talk about difficult things. We can then provide services to help them.

Victoria Law Foundation director Lynne Haultain said community houses were particularly important venues during the 192 Law Week events.

“We had I think about 38 neighborhood house events across the state in all kinds of regional cities and metropolitan areas,” she said.

“Neighborhood houses are really essential, because they already know their community. They know the types of information and events that will be useful to people in their neighborhood and that’s a great combination.

On Thursday, the Whittlesea Bowls Club also held a celebration of the volunteers who work with WCH and in the Township of Whittlesea.

The celebration coincided with Australia’s biggest morning tea, with a raffle to raise money for cancer.

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