Victoria Legal Aid

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) is an independent statutory authority funded by the Commonwealth and state governments to provide legal assistance to the broader community, with a focus on facilitating access to justice for those in need.

Students are placed within VLA's Civil Justice Program as part of the subject Public Interest Law Clinic. The Civil Justice Program deals with a range of legal issues in areas including mental health and disability advocacy, social inclusion, equality, migration, and Commonwealth/social security entitlements. The program delivers advice and duty lawyer services, runs test cases, and pursues innovative approaches to resolving legal problems. Students will predominantly spend their time assisting clients who experience disadvantage and social exclusion with their infringement matters.

PILI - Rose Sesto and Joel Townsend.
Victoria Legal Aid: Rose Sesto and Joel Townsend

Rose Sesto
Administrative Services Manager, Civil Justice Program

In 2011 Rose started an Internship Program for law students to provide them with the opportunity to increase their knowledge of VLA and community law as well as to gain exposure to a real practising work environment.

Joel Townsend
Program Manager, Migration and Social Inclusion Programs

Joel is a member of the Law Institute of Victoria's Human Rights Committee, the Victorian Attorney-General's Infringements Standing Advisory Committee, and the Australian Institute of Administrative Law. He has presented conference papers on administrative law, human rights, and on legal response to disaster. Joel has published journal articles on disability and mental health law, infringements and employment law. He is the author of the Lawyers Practice Manual chapter on migration law.

Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre

Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre (FKCLC) ensures that people in the community have equal access to justice, are aware of and can assert their legal rights, and understand and respect the rights and responsibilities of others in the community. The centre provides legal advice, information, referral, and casework assistance in general criminal, civil and immigration matters. FKCLC has expertise in relation to young people's issues, police powers and working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

The centre's Police Accountability Project is a specialist, innovative, public interest legal project, taking the lead in police accountability law and strategies. The Police Accountability Clinic for the subject Public Interest Law Clinic will provide students with a unique opportunity to contribute to this work through 'hands on' client-centred lawyering and legal research.

Tamar Hopkins, Solicitor

Tamar Hopkins is a solicitor at FKCLC and the principal supervisor of the Police Accountability Clinic. Tamar has focused on police complaints and racial profiling for over nine years. She is experienced in civil litigation, discrimination law, human rights law, freedom of information, and criminal defence. Tamar has published numerous articles and reports on policing and human rights.

In 2010 Tamar was awarded the Law Institute of Victoria's Community Lawyer of the Year for her work on police issues. In 2013 Tamar was a finalist for the Human Rights Law Award for her outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights in Australia.

Anthony Kelly, Executive Officer and Advocacy

Anthony Kelly is the Executive Officer of FKCLC. Anthony has over 25 years of experience in human rights advocacy, strategic social justice campaigning and community development. He was Coordinator of the Men's Referral Service for seven years, Policy Officer with the Federation of Community Legal Centres, and Training Coordinator with the Youth Referral and Independent Person Program.

Anthony was co-founder of Peace Brigades International – Australia, an associate with the Change Agency, and a campaigner, trainer and consultant with over 40 Australian and international social change campaigns.


JobWatch is an employment rights legal centre that provides information and assistance to Victorian workers about their rights at work. The centre operates a free and confidential telephone information and referral service for Victorian workers. It also offers representation and assistance for vulnerable workers as part of its casework practice. JobWatch undertakes broad community legal education and pursues law reform activity to promote workplace justice and equity for all workers in Victoria.

Students who participate in the Employment Law Clinic for the subject Public Interest Law Clinic will assist JobWatch clients with their employment law and related issues. Students may also have an opportunity to contribute to the centre's community legal education and policy work.

Zana Bytheway, Executive Director

Before joining JobWatch in 2000, Zana was a Senior Associate with Galbally and O'Bryan in their employment law practice. She is a qualified mediator, the Chair of the Law Institute's Discrimination Law Committee, a member of the Law Institute's Workplace Relations Committee, the Industrial Relations Society of Victoria, the Australian Labour Law Association and a Board member of the Federation of Community Legal Centres.

Secondary Schools

PILI has established partnerships with a number of secondary schools to deliver the subject Street Law, in which JD students visit schools to present lessons on areas of the law relevant to young people. Our current partner schools include:

Roxburgh College

Three behaviours, three dimensions, three values – Respect, Learn, Achieve – that Roxburgh College and its diverse school community strive for and represent. Roxburgh College is a middle and later years (years 7–12) secondary school in the heart of Roxburgh Park, a relatively new locality in the northern area of Melbourne. The College works actively to promote a safe and supportive learning environment through its range of tolerance and support programs and a well-established discipline process. Roxburgh College recognises the dual purpose of maximising the high academic achievement of each student as well as providing opportunities for their individual and social development by partnering with key community stakeholders including universities, employers and TAFEs to extend learning beyond the classroom. The school promotes the all-round personal development and self-esteem of each student. We encourage the development of courteous, articulate and thoughtful attitudes. Teachers actively assist students to develop sound study habits in both the middle years (years 7–9) and later years (years 10–12) mini schools.

Reservoir High School

Reservoir High School is a medium sized, co-educational secondary college for students from years 7–12. Students from all over Melbourne enrol at the school, due to its reputation and close proximity to public transport. Reservoir High School is proud of its academic traditions. The school stands by its strong values of respect, academic excellence, diversity and success. Reservoir prides itself upon the high level of support it provides its students. Reservoir students are encouraged to participate in a wide range of co-curricular programs that include subject and year level camps, extensive sport programs, performing and visual arts, debating and leadership. These programs, along with the school's focus on academic excellence, contribute to the sense of community that exists at Reservoir High School.

Ashurst Australia

Ashurst is a leading global law firm, advising Australian and international corporations, financial institutions and government clients. With 27 offices in 16 countries, over 420 partners and a further 1,450 lawyers, they offer the international insight of a global network combined with local market knowledge and expertise. Ashurst is a full service commercial law firm advising clients across key sectors including financial services, energy and resources, projects and infrastructure.

Ashurst environment practice

The Ashurst environment team provides clear, practical solutions and has deep expertise in environmental assessment and approval strategies, sustainability initiatives, environmental compliance, due diligence, heritage places, contaminated sites, native title and land rights, water, environmental planning, carbon emissions and greenhouse issues and renewable energy.

Ashurst's Environment practice is also recognised as the only firm to provide an end-to-end specialist advisory service on all environmental and land access issues relevant to major projects.

Corporate social responsibility and pro bono work

Ashurst's corporate social responsibility program, which includes community involvement, diversity, and environmental initiatives, helps to turn beliefs into action and aims to integrate Ashurst's social and environmental concerns with day-to-day operations and dealings with their clients and the wider community.

Through Ashurst's pro bono program it acts for individuals and not-for-profit organisations on a wide range of matters. The firm undertakes major legal projects, test case litigation and day-to-day matters.

Ashurst also partners with the Melbourne Law School in offering the Sustainability Business Law Clinic.

Sophie Osborn.
Sophie Osborn, Senior Associate

Sophie Osborn is a Senior Associate at Ashurst Australia's Melbourne Office. Sophie has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from Monash University and is currently completing a Master of Laws at Melbourne Law School. She was admitted to practice in Victoria on 2001.

Sophie practises in the area of environmental, planning and water law. Sophie regularly provides assistance in the obtaining of environmental approvals for energy and resource projects. She has acted for water authorities, telecommunications companies, Victorian government departments and developers at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Planning Panels Victoria. She is also experienced in the conduct of administrative law appeals to the Supreme Courts of Tasmania and Victoria and the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Sophie has assisted various clients in managing environmental incidents. She has also assisted in responding to investigation and enforcement proceedings by the Environment Protection Authority, including defending environmental prosecutions.

Sophie specialises in advice on complex environmental and energy regulatory issues. She regularly advises on issues such as land contamination, hazardous waste, heritage place registration, water trading and petroleum exploration.

She has also managed environmental, heritage and planning due diligence in relation to infrastructure projects and major private sector acquisitions.

In the sustainability area, Sophie has recently assisted Melbourne City Council and the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage in relation to advice on environmental upgrade agreements.