NSW Young Lawyers have announced that the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS), the longest running refugee legal centre in NSW, has been chosen as NSW Young Lawyers’ charity of the year for 2017.

Emily Ryan, President of NSW Young Lawyers, says that “NSW Young Lawyers is delighted to be supporting RACS as our charity in 2017. We are also looking forward to continuing our work together on the Refugee Assistance Project, and exploring other opportunities as part of our commitment to access to justice.”

NSW Young Lawyers is the largest body of young and newly practising lawyers, and law students in Australia. With a current membership of more than 15,000 members, NSW Young Lawyers supports practitioners in the early stages of their career. The organisation provides the perfect platform for members to extend their network, expand their leadership opportunities and contribute to the profession, and wider community, while offering the fundamental support that young lawyers need to advance their professional development.

RACS provides free, expert legal assistance to people seeking asylum in Australia and in particular those resident in NSW. There are around 9000 people needing protection visa assistance in NSW. Funding cuts to this assistance in 2013, removed funded legal assistance from 80% of applicants. Since that point, RACS has endeavoured to continue to provide legal support to people who seeking safety in Australia through a combination of pro bono assistance and fundraising.

In the last financial year, despite these challenges

• We helped 5220 people from 89 different countries
• We provided 7414 advice sessions
• We interacted with 12668 clients

RACS were excited to launch the new Refugee Assistance Project with the NSW Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee this year, which was designed to assist unrepresented people in Australia who are requesting asylum, with filling in their visa application forms under the Fast Track process. This project will complement and feed into RACS’ Legal Help for Refugees Clinic, which provides statement-taking assistance and pre-lodgment migration advice.

As Tanya Jackson-Vaughan, the Executive Director of RACS says: “The support we will receive in 2017 from NSW Young Lawyers will enable us to continue to assist the thousands of people who need our help urgently. Without access to justice, people seeking asylum are at increased risk of being sent back to the country they fled from. We are truly grateful to the NSW Young Lawyers’ membership for choosing to support our vital work.”

For further comment, please call
Tanya Jackson-Vaughan, Executive Director of RACS – 0417 204 098
NSW Young Lawyers Office – (02) 9926 0182