Nilu Jayaratne - Current Inner Melbourne Community Legal Volunteer (1 year)
“The reason why I chose a law degree in the first place was a bit idealistic, but it was because I wanted to help people. I’ve always wanted to do some kind of legal volunteering to apply my degree and do exactly that.
“When you tell someone that you’re studying law, their reactions are often about how they hate the legal system because of a negative experience they’ve had. I think everyone knows someone who has dealt with the legal system and felt that way. A friend of mine went through their own family law proceedings, and that was a really difficult process for them as their private and deeply personal issues were brought into a court to be judged strangers. What stuck with me was how difficult it was for them to understand the process – they left feeling that their voice was not heard. It made me wonder, given that they were lucky enough to receive private legal advice, what would that situation be like for someone experiencing disadvantage? Through that I realised that I wanted to help someone who wouldn't be able to access the advice that they were lucky enough to get, and make some tough situations a little bit easier.
“Although it’s cliché, volunteering at IMCL makes me feel fulfilled by allowing me to do just that. Recently we have been compiling resources to assist international students to resolve their legal issues, and knowing that our work could prevent someone from being exploited is an amazing feeling. Even when I complete a small task, I feel like I have done something that will make a of tangible difference down the track. On top of that, the lawyers and volunteers that I work with are incredibly hardworking and such positive role models. They create a really wonderful environment that makes me want to wake up in the morning and go to work, which I really appreciate."