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Strategic campaigning – lessons learnt Using test cases / litigation to advocate for systemic change Catherine Leslie Lawyer and policy officer. Why use litigation?. Case studies are powerful illustrations Core work as legal services – links with policy/law reform

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Strategic campaigning – lessons learntUsing test cases / litigation to advocate for systemic change

Catherine Leslie

Lawyer and policy officer


Why use litigation
Why use litigation?

Case studies are powerful illustrations

Core work as legal services – links with policy/law reform

Shine a light in dark places – a ‘stick’ to make agencies/public authorities improve practice

Building capacity of the CLC, and empowering for others in client group


Mhlc s experience key cases
MHLC’s experience – key cases

Breach of right to a fair hearing for failure to review involuntary psychiatric treatment for over 2 years; test case on Victorian Charter

  • Krackev Mental Health Review Board & Ors(General) [2009] VCAT 646 (August 2009)

    Vindication of client as ‘fit and proper’ person to drive a taxi, despite his forensic psychiatric history

  • Director of Public Transport v XFJ [2011] VSCA 302 (11 October 2011)

    Preventing forced sale of our client’s home affirmed his right to choose where to live and confirmed that Administration Orders cannot be used to compel psychiatric treatment

  • PJB v Melbourne Health & anor (‘Patrick's case’) [2011] VSC 327 (19 July 2011)


Identifying test case strategic litigation
Identifying test case / strategic litigation?

Strong casework base to draw from

Aligns with objectives of CLC

‘Accidental’ test case vs planned campaign


Resources
Resources

Limited resources at CLC

  • Running of case

  • Other aspects of law reform work

    MHLC’s experience

  • Use of pro bono counsel – PILCH

  • CLC lawyers run the case – builds capacity

  • Flexible in practice, incl. pro bono representation scheme



Using media
Using media

Promote outcome of decision – broad impact

Humanise problem and re-focus community/media debate

Difficult to counter prevailing attitudes & prejudice

MHLC case studies – privacy critical

  • Sensitive nature of health and person information

  • Stigmatising attitudes to people with mental illness in community and media

  • Case by case basis


Using case studies
Using case studies

Ongoing law reform work – identified law reform issues and others

De-identify client and relevant health service

Sharing knowledge in sector – empowering other advocates, peak bodies, consumers


Reflections and learnings
Reflections and learnings

Managing client’s expectations of outcome, process, media

Need to be flexible

Opportunities:

  • Effective & efficient ways of identifying test cases

  • Media capacity & presence

  • Improve planning and coordination across casework, law reform and education activities


For more information incl. accessing materials:

www.communitylaw.org.au/mentalhealth

or tel: 9629 4422

Catherine Leslie – [email protected]/mentalhealth


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