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Thursday, 21 March 2019 01:13 pm

New leadership for student legal advocacy group

New Wellington Community Justice Project student directors Stephen Woodwark and Marika Williams have big priorities for 2018.

Community work, volunteerism, and an environmental focus are inspiring the new leaders of a student legal advocacy group to solve real-life legal issues while studying

Fourth-year Victoria University law students Marika Williams and Stephen Woodwark were voted in as student directors of Wellington Community Justice Project at its AGM.

Miss Williams has been volunteering for the project for two years.

She wants to grow its focus on environmental justice, using its existing organisational structure

“I know there’s a lot of students at Vic who are passionate about environmental issues, and it would be great if we could somehow mold what we do already into environmental focus.

“There’s some scope to grow out in a new direction.”

Miss Williams led the project’s education team during 2017, teaching young people and members of the public about their legal rights in areas like employment.

The job included regular visits to schools like Hutt Valley High School, to teach students about the law and their rights.

Stephen Woodwark led the project’s advocacy team in 2017, supporting vulnerable people like students, defendants at the Wellington District Court, and prisoners.

The advocacy team’s work this year included a prisoner support project working with the Howard League, a penal reform organisation.

Both of the new student directors underlined the work done by volunteers, who use their legal education to make a difference in vulnerable communities.

They help and support to refugees, prisoners, or those already in the court system, and educate them so they don’t have to end up in that position, Woodwark said.

“I feel like we make a real difference, just for us it might seem like something quite simple but it actually makes a genuine impact in our community.”

Miss Williams said it was satisfying to get out in the community and help solve real-life legal issues while studying.

“It’s nice to know that we can give back now.”

The Wellington Community Justice Project has worked with similar groups in the capital since its establishment in 2010 to improve access to legal services in the wider community.

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