Registration Link:
tinyurl.com/UVJHoSC
Date: Wednesday 11 August 2021
Time: 5pm to 6pm EST
Location: Zoom

Download the PDF invite here for biographies on panellists.

What is solitary confinement, and how, when and why is it usually used?

Is there a right to healthcare in prisons, and what sort of care is provided in practice? What do we know about the mental health of people in custody, mental health services in custody, and mental health outcomes after release from custody?

What did the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody say about solitary confinement, and what have been the recent experiences of individuals and families? What are the impacts of systemic racism?

These are all important questions, and VALS invites you to join our panel for this critical discussion. A webinar not to be missed, our panellists will discuss how this harmful practice is deployed in different contexts, including in New Zealand and in Western Australian prisons, particularly in relation to people with disabilities.

The panellists will be:
– Professor Stuart Kinner, Group Leader, Justice Health, Centre for Adolescent Health, MCRI
– Kriti Sharma, Lead #BreakTheChains Campaigner, Human Rights Watch
– Dr Sharon Shalev, Research Associate, Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford
– Megan Williams, Research Lead and Assistant Director, National Centre for Cultural Competence

To determine eligibility VALS will:

  • enquire as to the Aboriginality of the client;
  • enquire as to perceived or actual conflict of interest;
  • enquire as to compliance with the Means Test;
  • consider the merit of the client’s matter.

Aboriginality
The first time someone uses VALS they must provide proof of their Aboriginality using the Confirmation of Aboriginality Form. This form must be signed and sealed by the Officer Bearers of a recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation.

Conflict
VALS must not decline to provide assistance to an eligible person, group or body on the grounds that the other party to the matter is an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person. In circumstances where the relationship between the parties to a case would result in a conflict of interest, that conflict must be managed in accordance with the Victorian Legal Practice requirements and Policy Direction 9 – “Managing Conflicts of Interest” – of the Attorney-General’s Department Policy Directions for the Delivery of Legal Aid Services to Indigenous Australians (2008).

VALS will not act if a conflict of interest exists. A conflict of interest may be an ‘actual’ conflict of interest or a ‘perceived’ conflict of interest. A conflict of interest can involve:

  • Clients who have different interests, such as VALS may have advised or acted for person “A” (old client) who has an interest that conflicts with person “B” (intended new client).
  • Clients and VALS, such as a VALS staff member or Board Member has an interest that conflicts with an intended new client. Conflicts involving client-provider relationships are:
    •  An owner, director, manager, employee, contractor or agent of VALS and/or;
    • An employee of the Department; and/or
    • A close relative (spouse, de facto, parent, sibling or child) of any of the above.

VALS provides assistance on a first in best dressed basis (i.e. provide direct assistance to the party who approaches VALS first). VALS will refer the other party to another legal service provider or “brief out” the client to a private lawyer (subject to the client meeting the requirements for brief outs). Where appropriate, VALS may act for one client and provide assistance by brief out to the other.

Means Test
Where a person seeks casework assistance, VALS must ensure that applicants satisfy the Means Testing provisions of the Policy Directions.

VALS must ensure that all applicants for legal casework assistance satisfy one or more of the following requirements:

  • Under 18 years of age;
  • Main source of income comes from Community Development Employment Projects; (CDEP) participant wages or Centrelink (or equivalent) benefits; or
  • Gross household income is under $52,000 per annum.

Note: Household income includes the income of your partner, spouse, relative including an adult child who you live with.

The Means Test will be administered in two parts:

Part A: Requires the completion of a small number of questions relating to the applicant’s personal circumstances and income level.

Part B: Is required where applicants do not satisfy the criteria in Part A. It requires more detail about the applicant’s income, assets, employment status and number of dependents.

Merit Test
Discretion will be used to determine if a particular case has merit.