A program that will offer free legal support and information for members of the African-Australian community, including youths in trouble with the law, is set to be launched in Adelaide early next year. Source: The Southern Cross.
The African Legal Project is being spearheaded by former District Court judge and now barrister, Steven Millsteed KC, with the assistance of Clement Kuek, manager of the African Services Program for Centacare Catholic Family Services.
Still in the early stages, the project aims to educate African youth on their legal rights, provide the services of a field officer to assist a young person when they are questioned or arrested by police, and offer pro bono legal representation for their initial appearance in court.
Mr Millsteed said the concept for establishing the program was first raised 18 months ago by the Adelaide Archdiocese’s then-vicar general, Fr Philip Marshall.
Fr Marshall became concerned by reports that members of the African-Australian community, and in particular younger members of that community, were being arrested and charged by police for criminal offences with no knowledge of their legal rights.
A group has now been formed comprising lawyers, law students, Adelaide Archdiocese representatives including current vicar general Fr Dean Marin and members of the African-Australian community to develop programs to educate young Africans about their legal rights when dealing with police and the court system.
Since February several meetings have been hosted in Centacare facilities and attended by between 30-40 members of the African community. Information sessions have covered the topics of child protection, legal rights and the importance of legal representation.
A South Sudanese refugee who has lived in South Australia for nearly 20 years, Mr Kuek has strong ties with the local African community and is well known for his crisis support work with Centacare. He said members of the community believed the African Legal Project was a “very positive” step.
Legal project aids African youth (By Lindy McNamara, The Southern Cross)