A legal health check aimed at young people has revealed widespread concern about discrimination.
Hundreds of young people – including some from disadvantaged schools in Sydney’s south and south-west – have taken part in the study.
Marrickville Legal Centre’s Youth Solicitor Katie Green started the work in January, to establish what young people did – and did not – know about the law and their rights.
“There are huge numbers of young people who have legal problems that are not diagnosed: and discrimination is the most common one,” says Ms Green, who points to one respondent who reported discrimination based on a range of personal attributes, including race, age, physical appearance and mental health.
“When I ask a young person why they might need a lawyer, they immediately think about criminal law issues. I find that they are not so aware of civil law issues, which are actually far more common,” says Ms Green. “They are always surprised to hear about victims’ services and that there is the option for compensation.”
The survey, which has been tailored for those under 25, is based on the legal health check established by the National Association of Community Legal Centres. Young people are also asked about experiences of family and domestic violence, fines and sexual abuse, amongst other matters.
Another result anecdotally is that young people are speaking about family and domestic violence more openly and they are disclosing personal experiences more often. (If you want to support further outreach to them, please consider giving a tax-deductible donation to our campaign.)
The results from the work will inform future Community Legal Education sessions, which are regularly carried out in schools and refuges.
In addition to community outreach, the Marrickville Legal Centre operates the oldest free youth and children’s legal service in NSW. Those under 25 are encouraged to contact the Centre on (02) 9559 2899 during business hours.