MyLegal Mate was the first mobile service of its kind in Australia. Developed with grant funding from the City of Sydney, the app will provide free legal guidance tailored for international students across NSW.
“Moving to a new city can be a bewildering experience, especially if there are language barriers and you do not know where to go for advice,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore “It will help ensure they’re given every opportunity to have a safe, enjoyable and rewarding time, living and studying in Sydney and across NSW. International students enhance our city by contributing to Sydney’s diversity and strengthening our global connections. Being able to attract and nurture the best candidates from around the world is an investment in our city’s future. That’s why we’ve supported this innovative information resource, and look forward to it helping students from all backgrounds.”
MyLegal Mate was created by the Redfern Legal Centre with funding from the City of Sydney, StudyNSW and the Fair Work Ombudsman and built using the technology of Sydney company, Practera. It is the brainchild of Solicitor Sean Stimson, the head of Redfern Legal Services International Student Legal Service NSW. Mr Stimson was this year awarded the NSW Human Rights Medal his work with the state’s 260,000 international students.
“Redfern Legal Centre provides a free statewide legal advice service for international students funded by Study NSW, but this app will offer new and immediate support,” Mr Stimson said. “This is an innovative way for our service to ensure that international students can gain immediate access to tailored legal information and be empowered to take greater control when problems occur.
The app addresses four legal areas identified by students and service providers as having the most need:
– disputes with education providers; and
– sexual assault. The information is provided in multiple languages and delivered in a face-to-face format that is friendly and accessible in English and 6 community languages. Redfern Legal Centre was among 25 community groups sharing information and services with Sydney’s latest international students from more than 60 nationals at the Town Hall reception.
Senior Partner, Reece Ramsden has two migration agents at his firm and says, ” I think that anybody taking the initiative to modernise their service through a mobile phone application is a progressive idea, especially as this ‘MyLegal Mate’ is targeted at international students who need a platform that is in another language. ”
He stresses care as the app claims to provide ‘tailored legal advice’ which in some cases may still need further consultation depending on the case. “In my opinion, there must be some degree of caution, and strong disclaimers provided that the app is simply only to help guide international students navigate some areas that may be unfamiliar, but when they have complex legal issues, they should be referred to a panel of lawyers / migration agents who can actually provide the tailored legal advice.” he says
“In this industry, migration agents (or perhaps this application, if that’s possible?) must ensure they strictly comply with their relevant code of conduct found at Migration Agents Registration Authority.”
In saying that, it helps alleviate the strain of a community legal centre that may at times be pushed for resources as it relies on public and private funding. “Overall, however, the initiative taken to provide something easily accessible and free is a fantastic move forward in our legal society as long as careful measures are taken in conjunction.” notes Ramsden.
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