Deeana Predic - Current Inner Melbourne Community Legal Volunteer (3-years)
“I decided to become a long–term volunteer at IMCL because I think community legal centres are a really important service.
“In particular, I think the reform work that community law centres do is really important. This year, IMCL did a lot of work in regards to the homeless ban Melbourne city council was proposing. They were successful in stopping it.
“My parents have been a huge influence on my choice of law as a career. My dad was an immigrant from Bosnia when he was a child, and so he experienced a lot of prejudice and racism growing up. His experience gave me an understanding of the barriers that people, especially immigrants, refugees and people from non-English speaking backgrounds experience in the community.
“After working in finance for years, my dad decided to retrain as a teacher, which is really inspiring. He now works at an English language school in Werribee, and seeing the joy that it gives him really had an impact on me. It has made me want to give back to the community as well.
“My mum is a psychiatric nurse and has worked in that field for nearly 20 years. I have heard from her about the difficulties people living with mental illness can face day-to-day.
“Many IMCL clients are dealing with issues with their mental health which can present barriers when they come up against legal problems. Just knowing where to go or getting assistance for a legal problem when you’ve got a mental health issue is hard.
“That’s the reason why I think outreach work is so important. We go out and find people who may not realise that they have a legal issue, and we can help them resolve it.
“Our health justice partnerships involve lawyers from IMCL going out to local hospitals and providing legal services there. Particularly important is the one at the Royal Women’s Hospital. A lot of women who are in abusive relationships are unable to attend legal appointments, but they are able to attend hospital appointments. If their social worker can identify they have a legal problem, then they are able to see a lawyer and get help, where they would not have otherwise been able.
“My volunteer work at IMCL makes me feel like I’m doing something valuable by being there. They give me important work to do. I feel valued and they make sure they acknowledge the work that I do and give me feedback. It makes me feel good about what I’m doing. They help me improve my legal skills and build on those legal skills.
“Everyone in the IMCL office is so friendly; they’re always in a good mood. I also love that there are a lot of women in the office. It definitely makes it a unique and really nice place to work.
“I think my parents are proud of me because I’d like a career in community law, given what they’ve taught me and what they do with their lives.
“They‘ve taught me about a good work ethic. They’ve taught me to care for other people, and that being a nice person is something to strive for. And that it’s worthwhile to put your life towards helping other people, and those that aren’t as well off as you are.
“I want to be part of the solution and changing the system, so that it’s easier for people to navigate, so they don’t need to suffer so much under it.
“I’d love to work in community law or for Legal Aid in the future. Community law has more scope for reform work, which I think is really important. I am incredibly passionate about animals and animal law, so if I had some way of working in animal law, that would be my dream. But helping people is what I really want to do.”