It is now autumn and our favourite week of May (14-20), Law Week, is looming.
Law Week is a special time in the calendar when people across the nation engage with a range of legal service providers. The aim is to make the legal system accessible to everyday people and educate the wider community on the important services, which exist for them.
According to Lynne Haultain (pictured), executive director of the Victoria Law Foundation, a record-busting number of programs will run in this year’s Victorian Law Week. A third of the state’s Law Week events will be hosted in regional Victorian and suburban centres.
“There is real diversity of content for Law Week this year, from theatrical performances, musical performances and tours of institutions that you don’t normally get access to like Geelong Gaol,” Ms Haultain said.
“We have events that are happening as part of a broader festival in Ballarat, down to a legal help session in a very small town called Quambatook.”
Everyone from Community Legal Centres, government agencies and organisations will host special sessions across Victoria, exceeding 200 events.
The Victorian Courts will open their doors on Saturday 19 May, with children invited to have their face painted in the County Court forecourt and be entertained by a juggler, magician and clown The Great Gizmo.
Community members can also enjoy a trial by social media session in the Supreme Court of Victoria and a "Day in the life of an accused" tour in the County Court of Victoria. Later in the day at 1pm, a guided walking tour of Melbourne’s historical legal precinct will commence from the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court.
“Law is a really fundamental part of our democracy and an awareness of it is actually really important,” Ms Haultain said.
“And the law is really interesting – it just has a lot of offer in terms of history and culture and just the theatre of the legal process that people are really intrigued by.
“Making sure that people understand that the law isn’t this cold distant thing and it is accessible to you in a range of ways is something that Law Week is all about,” she said.
Other Law Week highlights for Victoria include a coffee van staffed by lawyers offering free legal help (and free coffee) in Mernda (Monday 14 May); a lunchtime discussion about the future and challenges of data protection with former Victorian Privacy Commission David Watts (Wednesday 16 May); a free community round table about wage theft for young people at the Victorian Trades Hall Council (Wednesday 16 May); and a debating competition on the topic "Should mobile phones be banned at schools?" at A Nare Warren South College (Friday 18 May).