Tash Ellis has been volunteering with the Welfare Advocacy team for the first time in 2017. She has made a great contribution to the project after quickly learning the ropes. She has been able to support a number of clients through her genuine and caring personality, as well as efficiency in understanding the complexities that surround some of the clients' issues. She has really gone the extra mile for her team, taking on extra shifts and is always enthusiastic regardless of the task.
Hear from Tash below:
After I attended the WCJP Summit in 2016 I knew I wanted to get involved. I made sure to apply and was very excited to be accepted into the Welfare Advocacy team.
The Welfare Advocacy team is based in the Wellington District Court and helps to facilitate welfare support to those who come through the court system. This requires us to meet with defendants and find out how we can help. It can include making contact with WINZ to sort out any benefit issues or apply for financial assistance, arranging accommodation, transport and providing any other support we can for clients to get back on their feet.
It has been such a rewarding project to be part of in so many ways. I have been inspired by how hardworking the lawyers we work alongside have been. One I have spent a lot of time with, Leah Davison, has always gone the extra mile for clients. I really admire and have learnt a lot from her. Seeing how the court process works has been really interesting too.
I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet a wide range of people. It has been interesting to see the human side of the cells. Talking to clients about their kids, family and everyday lives help you to know the person. It seems common that the reason they are caught up in the justice system is due to a lack of access to the support they need. Being able to help coordinate this for them and work to address the issues that may have led to the offending has been very rewarding. The best part is getting to see clients genuinely excited about moving on in their lives.
This project also provided an opportunity to learn about the Special Circumstances Court. The approach of the Special Circumstances Court is a more personal way of dealing with certain offenders. It includes the involvement of a variety of support services to ensure a defendant has what they need to live a life without offending. It is incredibly inspiring to see how it can impact a person’s life, and is run by very talented people who work tirelessly towards helping others. Things like this show the range of work out there after law school which you might not otherwise consider.
I have met so many incredible people through this project; from our clients, to the lawyers and support workers at the court and of course the very passionate leaders and fellow volunteers. I have learnt so much from every single one of these people, and it has really sparked an interest for me to pursue this area of law in the future.
Being part of this project has definitely been one of the highlights of my time at law school.
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