Sydney, 21 September 2012: The Clayton Utz Foundation has welcomed new research by one of Australia's leading community lawyers which highlights the potential benefits for disadvantaged Australians through delivering legal services in partnership with health care providers. The Clayton Utz Foundation has responded to the Advocacy-Health Alliances - Better Health through Medical-Legal Partnership report with a funding grant to establish an Australia- first pilot Advocacy-Health Alliance in Bendigo, Victoria.
The report is the result of extensive research undertaken by Clayton Utz Foundation Fellow and Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre coordinator and lawyer, Peter Noble. The report is available at http://advocacyhealthalliances.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/aha-report_general1.pdf
Peter Noble interviewed many lawyers and doctors experienced in Medical-Legal Partnership during a study tour to the United States this year. Drawing on the US experience, his report highlights the effectiveness of providing legal assistance to disadvantaged people at the same time they access health treatment in helping to "tackle some of the environmental causes of poor health, change policies which impact on poor health, and reduce re-admission rates", thereby reducing overall public health costs.
One of the report's recommendations is that a pilot Advocacy-Health Alliance be established in Bendigo to demonstrate how the model can work. The Clayton Utz Foundation has granted funding to conduct a six-month scoping and preparation exercise which will establish the framework, location, partnerships and evaluation processes for a three-year pilot in Bendigo.
The Clayton Utz Foundation is also supporting the Inaugural Symposium on Advocacy-Health Alliances in Melbourne in November 2012, which will bring together international experts in this field and leaders from Australia's legal and health professions.
Clayton Utz pro bono partner David Hillard said the Advocacy-Health Alliances - Better Health through Medical-Legal Partnership report brought Australia one step closer to embracing an innovative approach to achieving better healthcare and access to justice outcomes. "We know that most disadvantaged people never access the legal system, and are much more likely to come in contact with the healthcare system. This is exciting. If we can build a Medical-Legal Partnership model and culture in Australia, we can make a dramatic change to how we respond to both community legal and health needs."
The Clayton Utz Foundation was established in 2003, and has provided $5 million in grants to charities which have a connection with Clayton Utz. One of the Foundation's priorities is funding programs and projects which facilitate access to justice. The Clayton Utz Foundation created the Clayton Utz Foundation Fellowship in 2006 to help build capacity in the community legal sector in remote and regional Australia. Peter Noble was awarded a Clayton Utz Foundation Fellow in 2011.
Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre is based in Bendigo and provides free legal advice and assistance to people across central Victoria who cannot afford a private solicitor and are ineligible for Legal Aid.