Presentation on theme: "The Family Law and CALD Communities Project"— Presentation transcript:
1 The Family Law and CALD Communities Project Community legal education in partnership with new and emerging migrant communities
2 Project Objectives Primary objectives Within a framework which respects cultural diversity and encourages dialogue about difference the project develops community legal education programs to:promote understanding of the Australian family law system among CALD communitiespromote the ability of individuals to make informed choicespromote understanding of how to access and comply with the Australian legal system among CALD communities
3 Project Objectives Secondary intended outcome That the information shared by CALD communities regarding their own cultural, religious and legal backgrounds, their perceptions of the Australian legal system and concerns about accessing the Australian legal system be made available to legal practitioners, educators and policy officers to inform their work and enhance their capacity to work with CALD communities.
4 Why a dedicated project? Divorce, property settlement, children’s living arrangements, family violence, child protection are all of community issues – just as relevant to Australian community as a whole as they are to CALD communities.Language barriers can be addressed through interpreters.Well established ETU (3.5 FTE staff) responsible for training, publications, updating the Law Handbook Online.SO WHY A SPECIALIST PROJECT?
5 Why a dedicated project? Laws of countries of origin are often vastly different to Australia’s lawsLearning Australian law is but one issue that recent migrants & refugees grapple with (settlement issues of housing, education, employment, language, dislocation, ongoing trauma etc.)Ongoing networking and consultation with communities are vital yet time intensive
6 Why a dedicated project (cont) Laws around marriage, divorce, children, property settlement, dowries/bride prices, family violence, child protection are often vastly different in other societies. Considering that new migrants confront multiple challenges (housing, education, language, employment, trauma, dislocation, separation from family, racism), understanding Australia’s laws is but one of many issues facing refugees, humanitarian entrants and other new migrants from new and emerging communities. CLE for new migrant communities is not about adding information about laws into a blank space. It is generally about untangling. New and emerging migrant community members are often surprised that laws they lived with/under do not only not apply in Australia, and that Australian laws will sometimes be completely opposite to the laws of their countries of origin or refuge.
7 Project Overview Stage One – Pilot Program Project defined High level sponsorship (Board of Commissioners, Director, Law Foundation)Strategic partnership-Migrant Resource Centre & Multicultural Communities CouncilFunding for 0.5 FTE Worker (Law Foundation of SA)Needs analysisResearchReference GroupCommunity ConsultationEducation programsBuilding relationshipsEducation methodologyContent (depends on individual community)
8 Reference groupMade up of representatives from key stakeholders: Multicultural Communities Council, Migrant Resource Centre, Multicultural Sa, Migrant Women’s Support and Accommodation Service, Survivors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service, Family Court (SA Registry), SA Child Services (Families SA)Reference Group supported project worker to:identify CALD communities with greatest need for family law information (metro based African, Asian and Middle Eastern communities)foster communication & relationships with priority communitiesconduct consultations with priority communities
9 Community consultations Consultations with 3 broad community groups (as identified by Reference Group - African, Asian and Middle Eastern communities)Two critical outcomes:Project’s understanding of community needs improvedProject gained trust & credibility
10 Community consultations logistics Hosted at Migrant Resource CentreCommunity leaders and ethno-specific community workers participated in the consultation (project revised communication methods)Case studies to identify attitudes & knowledge around family dynamics in Australia, marriage traditions, children’s issues, separation, divorce, property settlement, mediation, family violenceSeated in groups of 4-7 to discuss case studies – one facilitator per group to clarify case studies/ explain Australian law/ record participants’ responsesNAATI accredited interpreters
11 Community consultations Consultations held with aim of project learning:participants’ traditional means of dealing with family law situations, taking into account cultural, religious and community issuescurrent understanding of Australian family lawinformation needs of each community
12 Key findings Many participants felt that: mainstream services do not respect and are not interested to learn cultural practices/experiences/beliefs of new and emerging migrant communitiesmainstream services tend to group ‘Asians’, ‘Africans’ or ‘Middle Easterners’ homogenously, without thought for individual needs and complexities within groups – the participants
13 Key findingsgeneral distrust of government structures and fear of being judged, misunderstood and/or further victimised (Police, lawyers, counselling & mediation services, complaints bodies)community workers, leaders and members want to know and trust presenters/ educators/ facilitators especially when dealing with sensitive topics like child protection and family violenceconcern that mainstream services are keen to consult and collect information about CALD communities, but less enthusiastic to provide appropriate services after a consultation
14 Key findingsmainstream services must be aware that life in Australia is very different from life in a refugee camp (from household appliances used daily in Australia being new and unfamiliar, to health/medical practices), monitor our assumptions and prejudiceswhen help is needed in Australia an appointment is necessary (often an alien concept)
15 Key findingshunger for factual, clear and relevant information on Australian laws, regardless of how these laws might contradict religious or cultural beliefs which isdelivered in participants’ own language (using interpreters)presented by people who are sensitive to and respectful of participants’ culture and who have some understanding of the life participants left behind in their countries of origin
16 Building relationships Education programsBuilding relationshipsEducation methodologyContent (depends on individual community)
17 Education Program Methodology Workshop formInteractive, designed to match language skills and educational background of groupAccredited interpretersUse of culturally appropriate fictional stories/ case studies to identify legal issues and resolutions (foster privacy of group members by avoiding individual group members’ experiences)Participants generate culturally traditional dispute resolution options and those available through Australian legal system
18 Stage Two – Project Overview Education programs continueIncreased staffing allows for more participatory models of CLEOngoing consultation (in CLE preparation and formal participant evaluation)Publication of Legal Education Kit
19 What does the Project look like? 3 person team designs and delivers customised legal education sessions on Australian Family Law to CALD communities in SA1 Legal Education Officer (1FTE)2 Bi-cultural administrative officers (1FTE)Part of the Commission’s Education & Training Unit
20 Four case studies Enough is Enough Introduction to Australian Family Law - A workshop for Shia Muslim Religious and Community LeadersLaw for Interpreters CourseLiberian Women’s Family Violence ForumIntroduction to Australian Family Law – A workshop for African community members in partnership with the African Communities Council of SA (ACCSA)
21 ‘Enough is Enough’ The Nile Family Goes to Court Role play staged at the new Family Law Courts during Law Week 2006, in partnership with the Family Law Court’s Adelaide Registry staff and African community workers and leaders .
22 Enough is EnoughDemonstrated various stages of the Family Law System, through the experiences of a fictional family of Liberian humanitarian entrants: marriage breakdown; traditional marriage counselling by community elders; intervention by a Liberian problem-solving committee; compulsory Family Court Mediation; and Interim Hearing which culminated in interim orders.
23 Enough is Enough Background CALD Project represented on the African Families and Communities Group and worked closely with Family Law Courts (SA/NT Registry) staff on their Harmony Partnerships ProgrammeLaw Week an opportunity to engage African communities in family law education
24 Enough is EnoughNeeds analysis with African community workers and leaders revealedMale is traditional head of family (including bread winner) but common in Australia for role reversal common to take place as women often find paid work and become the financial provider while males may struggle to find suitable employmentFemales are often overloaded with both domestic chores on top of external workMales often feel powerless in AustraliaAfrican women call on services to educate their men about law and society in AustraliaFamily violence of major concern to African women‘Bride price’ and its effect on separation, divorce, property settlement and childrenIn many African cultures children over 2yo remain with the husband’s family in the case of divorce
25 Enough is Enough Choosing the learning method African culture is predominantly an oral/story telling culture with printed material having limited impactTherefore theatre education useful
26 Enough is EnoughCast of African community workers and leaders contributed to the script which ensured that:The scenario was familiar and topicalAppropriate language and cultural practices were showcased (e.g. Liberian problem solving committee)Cast learnt about the Australian family law system (high impact considering their high community status)Their communities attended the event
27 Enough is EnoughPlay DVD excerptNote audience participation
28 Workshop with Shia Community and Religious Leaders BackgroundInvitation from DIMA to educate Shia religious and community leaders on Australian marriage and divorce lawsIn response to May 2006 DIMA consultation with Shia Imams who inferred that marriages and divorces are solemnized in South Australia by Imams in accordance with Sharia, but without satisfying the Marriage Act or Family Law Act
29 Shia Community and Religious Leaders The CALD Project conducted a needs analysis with community leaders from the two major Shia nationality/ethnic groups in SA – the Iraqi and Hazara Afghan groups
30 Shia Community and Religious Leaders Learning objectives devised with the community leaders before workshop:understand how to complete a legally valid marriage in Australiaknow the options available for resolving family relationship problems (via legal/ courts system and other)understand how to divorce in Australian (plus difference between divorce & property settlement)understand the options (via legal system & other) available to settle care of children upon separationunderstand the basic principles of the FLA in relation to childrenunderstand that family disputes do not inevitably have to end in court system (i.e. most families make private agreements )know where to get legal advice, assistance & representation
31 Shia Community and Religious Leaders Workshop learning method adopted, using story telling scenariosSee Shia Workshop PowerPoint handouts from page 2.
32 Law for Interpreters Course The Commission partnered TafeSA Interpreters Preparatory Course to work with interpreting students from new and emerging migrant communitiesAccess to justice for new and emerging migrant communities impossible without good quality, reliable and accredited interpreters
33 Law for Interpreters Course Alarming fall off rates of N&E community interpreterspoor pay for legal interpreting jobsN&E communities interpreters often fled countries of origin due to legal system/ governmentvastly different legal systems, court procedures, legal concepts & terms (standards of proof etc.)Infrequent work equals drop in skills and confidenceAfter listening to students’ fears/concerns the project placed emphasis on practical, action based learningDesigned and facilitated moot court workshops for the course
34 Law for Interpreters Course Partnership between TafeSa, Commission & SA Courts Administration AuthoritySimulated exercises such as the mock trials (with magistrate generously participating) are crucial from a training perspective and particularly critical for prospective interpreters, many of whom had bad experiences with the justice system in their countries of origin.New initiative being developed in partnership with SA state courts to do follow up training and development for N&E community interpreters
35 Liberian Women’s Forum on Family Violence Previous workshop concept driven – some consequent confusion and concernPractical information delivered via concrete examplesIn partnership with SAPOLMonthly sessions scheduled for next 3 months
36 African Communities Council SA Intro to Australian Family Law What not to do!Workshop prepared in response to ACCSA invitationPoor attendance by African communityNo partnership between project and attendeesNo pre-workshop consultation with attendees or leadersInsufficient relationship between community and Project
37 What we have learnedWhat closed doors can participatory CLE open for new and emerging migrants?Empowering through participation and quality informtaion removes misconceptions and thus reduces fear, promotes a sense of welcome, belonging, healing in AustraliaBuilding CALD community members’ trust in institutions (police, legal aid, complaints authorities such as HEREOC) promotes a sense of safety and thus empowersWhen new and emerging migrant community members discover that most traditional practices co-exist with Australian law allows for full self expression of their religious and cultural identities – very powerful part in the resettlement for people who are often still dealing with trauma
38 What we have learned Credibility Get out of the office into the community to meet people on their own ground.Build trusting relationships. Foster trust throughout the CLE process.Ask for feedback and keep checking that what you’re delivering is what the community actually wants and needsOne size does not fit all – be mindful of diversity of cultural practices, religious beliefs, language barriers between and among community groups.
39 What we have learned Acknowledge Be upfront - the Australian family law system is one of many family law systems throughout the world and is not inherently any more sensible or fair than any otherSpeak to commitments not concerns
40 What we have learned Participatory Have the CLE be community driven and participatoryView CLE process as a loop or holographic – do not think of the final session as the outcome or ‘the moment’ of CLEFamily law is an excellent place from which to build a bridge to the Australian legal system and laws in general
41 What we have learned Relevant and useful Many people perceive the law as boring and irrelevant to their lives of problems. Ensure the CLE content is practical and relevant. That it relates directly to the community members’ lives and addresses their immediate needs. Use concrete examples.Have participants use their own knowledge base.Use the language of the community (you will only know this from strong community participation in the CLE development).
42 What we have learnedUtilise existing structures, work in partnership and pool resources (successful workshops & other events stem from partnership)
43 Practice Example –small groups Case StudyYou are a legal educator in a community legal centre. You are contacted by a community worker from a local community organisation funded to provide settlement support to new migrants.The community worker notices that many of his African clients physically discipline their children, often hitting them with sticks. The community worker is concerned for the children and worried about legal consequences for the parents.The community worker tells you about a Liberian family whose 12 year old son is having difficulty in school. He is receiving negative reports and getting into fights with other children and being disruptive. The school has told the parents and the parents are upset. They migrated to give their children a better life. Negative reports from school are viewed extremely seriously. The father attempts to remedy the situation. He disciplines the boy physically, with a stick. The school principal becomes aware of this incident and tells the parents he has made a mandated notification to Child Services. The parents are fearful the government will take their child away from them.The community worker tells you that this family’s experiences and fears are not uncommon. He asks you to provide community legal education around child protection for his organisation’s African clients.Describe how you would develop this community legal education.You may wish to consider:How would I conduct a needs analysis?How would I define any behaviour changes that people want to achieve from the process?What content should be included?What learning methods should I use?How can I make the process participatory?
44 Where to from here? Ethno–specific educators Continual project evaluationKnowledge sharing/ Legal Education KitA new project title?!
45 Project Contact Details Kate HowardLegal Education OfficerLegal Services Commission of SA(08)GPO Box 1718 ADELAIDE SA 5001