Good food, live entertainment, and energetic dialogues about access to justice
Through the gates of Addi Road into the sunny grounds of the old WWI army depot, inner westies mill around meeting local community services amidst music, laughter and exchanges between friends old and new. Children line up to have their faces painted before heading to the jumping castle next door. Inside Gumbramorra Hall (named after the Gumbramorra swamp, a seasonal wetland cared for by the Gadigal people of the Eora nation), recently arrived Afghan refugees offer artful henna designs by the fairy floss and snow cone stand.
It’s the afternoon of Thursday 2 December at the Marrickville Justice Fair. After the compounded challenges faced by the community as a result of COVID-19, Marrickville Legal Centre (MLC) and Addison Road Community Organisation (Addi Road) saw an opportunity to reengage and reignite community spirit together. The two inner west institutions are now working together at the historic Marrickville location to address the local community’s needs holistically.
Arriving guests eased into the afternoon with the Latin sounds of La Boheme, as they enjoyed a free and tasty Egyptian lunch catered by local vegan food truck Koshari Korner.
Opening the official ceremony of the day, MC Tu Le welcomed Uncle Les McLeod to deliver a sacred Smoking Ceremony. Of great significance to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Smoking Ceremony is performed to cleanse the grounds and as a welcome to an area. Using leaves, bark and fungi from trees to create the smoke, Uncle Les blessed the surroundings and invited guests to the stage arena to accept healing. Next, Rowena Jarrett-Walsh delivered a Welcome to Country on behalf of Traditional Custodians, the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora nation, welcoming visitors to Country and offering safe passage.
Marrickville Justice Fair served firstly as a celebration of access to justice in the inner west community, and secondly to launch MLC’s new location at Addi Road. Marrickville Legal Centre will now serve more than 1.5 million people in Sydney’s inner-west, south-west, south and across NSW from two offices – at 338 Illawarra Road Marrickville and Addi Road at 142 Addison Road Marrickville.
The Fair was attended by local state members from MLC’s catchment including Member for Canterbury Sophie Cotsis MP and Member for Rockdale, Stephen Kamper MP. Mixed in with an exciting program, our audience also enjoyed passionate and inspiring addresses from the Member for Lakemba, Jihad Dib MP, and Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP.
Marrickville Justice Fair was blessed with stellar weather despite La Nina, setting the perfect scene for performances from local hip hop artist and chanteuse Kween G plus captivating cultural dances from Chinese, Nepalese, Tibetan and Vietnamese performers.
Marrickville Legal Centre lawyers and advocates were eager to engage local residents to learn more about their rights, with free legal health checks and activities such as ‘Pin the Tail on the Payslip’ and ‘Strata Facts Jenga’. MLC services were joined by stallholders from Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, CASS Care, Lebanese Muslim Association, Burdekin Association, Stepping Out, TAFE NSW, Sydney Multicultural Community Services, Metro Assist, Connect Marrickville and more.
Later on stage, employment law community educators Michelle Savicki and Noel Zihabamwe shared their experiences as migrant workers in Australia and how their contribution to Marrickville Legal Centre’s Train the Trainer program is helping to eliminate migrant worker exploitation. Participants and program supporters were congratulated at a graduation ceremony.
Painting live at the event was local artist Lotte Smith, who christened the new Marrickville Legal Centre office at Building 21 with a Justice For Us All mural. The artwork features MLC slogan ‘Justice For Us All’ with depictions of our team advising members of the community.
Acting Managing Principal Solicitor of Marrickville Legal Centre Justin Abi-Daher says the relocation will increase access to justice for local residents, with hundreds attending Addi Road’s food pantry and community organisations weekly.
Addi Road is home to over 30 local services, a community hub that is focused on supporting the local inner west community through arts and cultural programming, environmental sustainability programs, and providing food relief hampers to those in need.
Thanks to all who attended for making Marrickville Justice Fair a memorable event, and for helping promote our message that justice should not be the privilege of the few – justice is for us all.