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Postgraduate program commended nationally for social justice impact

TLPC story

A unique, postgraduate training program that prepares University of Tasmania graduates to become practising lawyers has received national recognition. 

A component of the Tasmanian Legal Practice Course (TLPC), run by the Centre for Legal Studies has been shortlisted as a finalist in the prestigious Australian Migration and Settlement Awards 2019.

The awards recognise the contribution of organisations and individuals who support migrants and refugees to settle in Australia, feel included and to participate in society.

The TLPC’s module Cultural Diversity and Working with Interpreters was nominated for the ‘Diversity and the Law’ category after its inaugural delivery in Hobart this year.  

Course Director and driver of the new module Naomi Bryant, said it was both a surprising and exciting development. 

“The module was devised in collaboration with Justice Helen Wood to meet a national overarching competency requirement for students in the area of cross-cultural awareness,” Ms Bryant said.

“We wanted this to be something more than just ticking a box – something that was useful, practical and inspiring, so we developed a unique, two-day workshop providing face-to-face, authentic and engaging experiences.

“It is pleasing to see this innovative unit acknowledged. I am not aware of any Australian course delivering this content in such a comprehensive way and hope the awards draw attention to future possibilities of how this model could be rolled out nationwide.”

Participants learnt about Australia’s growing cultural and linguistic diversity, the Tasmanian context and migration trends.

They also met with members of the Tasmanian Migration Council who shared insight into legal interactions for individuals with diverse ethnic backgrounds after arriving to the State as refugees.

Recommended National Standards for Working with Interpreters in Courts and Tribunals was also highlighted with trainees hearing directly from a Crown Prosecutor and defence Barrister on their experience of using translators in criminal trials.

“It is important that students are aware of communication difficulties due to cultural differences, and the possible effects on clients who are dealing with courts, police, or government agencies so that they are in a better position to provide assistance as lawyers,” Ms Bryant said.  

“Feedback from students was that the module was enlightening – not many had experienced hearing from people who have come to Australia as refugees. They were also interested in the language statistics, and learning what practical steps they can take to assist a client.”

Winners will be announced at a formal dinner hosted at Parliament House Canberra today (Wednesday, 23 October), and attended by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.  

University of Tasmania’s Dean of Law Professor Tim McCormack said the nomination for the award was a testament to the success of the Graduate Legal Practice Course. 

“This a tremendous achievement highlighting the real-world experiences aspiring lawyers can have here in Tasmania, and importantly, how this training prepares our future lawyers to help achieve justice outcomes for those from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds,” Professor McCormack said.

Pictured: Presenters and panel representatives from Day 1 of the module workshop.

Published on: 23 Oct 2019 9:44am