Improving health and justice through partnership

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Across Australia, 8.5 million people will have three or more legal needs in a given year. Many of them are some of the most vulnerable and marginalised in our community - making them hard to reach. Half won't receive any support at all, but those who will are much more likely to raise their legal needs in the trusted environment of a health setting than to seek out a lawyer.

Health justice partnerships respond to this evidence by bringing community lawyers into health settings to address health-harming legal needs. Recognising that many legal needs can undermine or compound people's health problems, they are strongly informed by the social determinants of health.

Health justice partnerships offer a model of how we can fill the gaps in health and human services through which the most vulnerable people continue to fall. But the tricky realities to working collaboratively across interdisciplinary teams to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable communities are also part of the challenge of scaling this model up. For example, how do these teams work collaboratively in response to family violence when health professionals have mandatory reporting obligations while lawyers are bound by the confidentiality of professional client privilege?

This seminar will explore the growing interest in health justice partnerships and some of the ethical and practical challenges to their effectiveness.

About the Speaker

Tessa is CEO of Health Justice Australia, the newly-established national centre supporting health justice partnerships. She has worked in health, justice and human rights organisations in Australia and internationally. She was previously Deputy CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service and was the inaugural Fulbright Professional Scholar in Nonprofit Leadership.

Her PhD in Law and Sociology from the London School of Economics was published as a book, Protecting the Public? Detention and Release of Mentally Disordered Offenders (Routledge, 2010). She is a graduate of the AICD Company Directors course; is on the Board of Gondwana Choirs, the leader in Australian choral performance; is a member of the Executive of the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance; and plays ultimate frisbee.