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The Family Law and CALD Communities Project

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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 communities promote the ability of individuals to make informed choices promote 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 laws Learning 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 Council Funding for 0.5 FTE Worker (Law Foundation of SA) Needs analysis Research Reference Group Community Consultation Education programs Building relationships Education methodology Content (depends on individual community)

8 Reference group Made 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 communities conduct 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 improved Project gained trust & credibility

10 Community consultations logistics
Hosted at Migrant Resource Centre Community 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 violence Seated in groups of 4-7 to discuss case studies – one facilitator per group to clarify case studies/ explain Australian law/ record participants’ responses NAATI 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 issues current understanding of Australian family law information 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 communities mainstream services tend to group ‘Asians’, ‘Africans’ or ‘Middle Easterners’ homogenously, without thought for individual needs and complexities within groups – the participants

13 Key findings general 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 violence concern 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 findings mainstream 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 prejudices when help is needed in Australia an appointment is necessary (often an alien concept)

15 Key findings hunger for factual, clear and relevant information on Australian laws, regardless of how these laws might contradict religious or cultural beliefs which is delivered 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 programs Building relationships Education methodology Content (depends on individual community)

17 Education Program Methodology
Workshop form Interactive, designed to match language skills and educational background of group Accredited interpreters Use 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 continue Increased staffing allows for more participatory models of CLE Ongoing 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 SA 1 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 Leaders Law for Interpreters Course Liberian Women’s Family Violence Forum Introduction 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 Enough Demonstrated 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 Programme Law Week an opportunity to engage African communities in family law education

24 Enough is Enough Needs analysis with African community workers and leaders revealed Male 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 employment Females are often overloaded with both domestic chores on top of external work Males often feel powerless in Australia African women call on services to educate their men about law and society in Australia Family violence of major concern to African women ‘Bride price’ and its effect on separation, divorce, property settlement and children In 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 impact Therefore theatre education useful

26 Enough is Enough Cast of African community workers and leaders contributed to the script which ensured that: The scenario was familiar and topical Appropriate 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 Enough Play DVD excerpt Note audience participation

28 Workshop with Shia Community and Religious Leaders
Background Invitation from DIMA to educate Shia religious and community leaders on Australian marriage and divorce laws In 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 Australia know 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 separation understand the basic principles of the FLA in relation to children understand 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 scenarios See 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 communities Access 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 interpreters poor pay for legal interpreting jobs N&E communities interpreters often fled countries of origin due to legal system/ government vastly different legal systems, court procedures, legal concepts & terms (standards of proof etc.) Infrequent work equals drop in skills and confidence After listening to students’ fears/concerns the project placed emphasis on practical, action based learning Designed and facilitated moot court workshops for the course

34 Law for Interpreters Course
Partnership between TafeSa, Commission & SA Courts Administration Authority Simulated 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 concern Practical information delivered via concrete examples In partnership with SAPOL Monthly 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 invitation Poor attendance by African community No partnership between project and attendees No pre-workshop consultation with attendees or leaders Insufficient relationship between community and Project

37 What we have learned What 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 Australia Building CALD community members’ trust in institutions (police, legal aid, complaints authorities such as HEREOC) promotes a sense of safety and thus empowers When 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 needs One 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 other Speak to commitments not concerns

40 What we have learned Participatory
Have the CLE be community driven and participatory View CLE process as a loop or holographic – do not think of the final session as the outcome or ‘the moment’ of CLE Family 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 learned Utilise existing structures, work in partnership and pool resources (successful workshops & other events stem from partnership)

43 Practice Example –small groups
Case Study You 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 evaluation Knowledge sharing/ Legal Education Kit A new project title?!

45 Project Contact Details
Kate Howard Legal Education Officer Legal Services Commission of SA (08) GPO Box 1718 ADELAIDE SA 5001

46 Feedback & Questions

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