Advocacy Volunteers have found common injustices to be issues with legal aid, being unable to discuss rehabilitation options with a lawyer, inability to access Drug Treatment Units, difficulty with parole board hearings or the organisation of transfers to other prisons. It is a rewarding experience for them to be able to apply theoretical legal skills in a practical context and for people that are in a disadvantaged position in helping themselves.
In the words of volunteer Beth Jones:
“Some of the more common issues we have dealt with involve the pricing of the canteens within the prisons as they are often double the price of supermarkets and prisoners are on a very low weekly wage, making most items unattainable to them. More recent and less common issues have involved helping set up support systems outside of prison for those approaching early release and contacting corrections directly for matters concerning property that has been unjustly confiscated and destroyed by corrections officers.”
Howard League President, Jane Maltby, has been impressed with the volunteers finding them “smart, dedicated and effective”. The Howard League are now up to date with letters and have greater capacity to continue providing their service. It is great to see a new project getting off to such a great start and see Victoria Law students making such a tangible impact.
Volunteer St John Howard-Brown found the most rewarding aspect was finding out his efforts have made a difference:
“One of my best Howard League moments was receiving confirmation that as a result of one of my letters, a prisoner I was advocating for was able to get on a drug treatment course which he needed to complete as a prerequisite to be eligible for parole. Given the high demand for such courses, my prisoner's attempts to enrol had been unsuccessful and it is likely he would still be waiting without the help of the Howard League project.”
Definitely a case of #justice!
Find out more about The Howard League here.
*Applications to be a part of the Howard League Letter Writing Team for 2018 opens at the beginning of Trimester 1 next year.
By Olivia Hyland
“We have started a campaign for Asylum Seeker’s rights. It is a human right to seek asylum’ yet many Asylum Seekers who come to New Zealand are hindered from living this right in a full and meaningful way. Some are having negative resettlement experiences because they are distinguished from ‘Quota Refugees’ and therefore are barred from the services and support available for Quota Refugees (‘Marking Time’ Report 2013). Many Asylum Seekers are fleeing the same wars, the same persecution and the same destruction as Quota Refugees. We believe Asylum Seekers should receive the same access to services and support as Quota Refugees.
Our team of eight volunteers have been busy planning and organising the campaign. They have split into two groups, one is community focused to raise awareness and support, and the other is government focused by creating our policy statement, petition and lobbying MPs.
A campaign launch is scheduled in August to launch our petition and have a speaker panel discuss the issues Asylum Seekers in New Zealand face and possible solutions. Tayyaba Khan, CEO of ChangeMakers Refugee Forum and Murdoch Stephens, founder of the Double the Quota campaign are confirmed speakers on the panel. We’re in touch with a number of MPs and are looking to have a former Asylum Seeker also join the panel. The event will be held in the Law School common room, is registered as a VicPlus category A event and is also open to the public so we are expecting a great turnout!
Prior to the launch a Facebook Page will go live outlining the campaign, posting articles, photo stories and interviews with former Asylum Seekers living in Wellington. Content will be geared towards debunking the stigmas and xenophobic politics/media about Asylum Seekers and will be based upon data retrieved from a volunteer-conducted survey.”
The Asylum Seeker Equality Project team is made up of Mahala Pinchen, Lucy Kenner, Sorina Muresan, Tamara Jenkin, Alice Onland, Keelin Weekly, Katherine Kooistra, and Maria Reyes Malqui.
About this Feed:
The Wellington Community Justice Project News Feed is maintained by our Secretary, Olivia Hyland.