Report Launched: Advocacy-Health Alliances in Australia – better health through medical-legal partnership

The report Advocacy-Health Alliances in Australia: Better Health through Medical-Legal Partnership launches today at the 2012 National Association of Community Legal Centres conference in Adelaide, Australia.

The report by Peter Noble, Coordinator and lawyer at the Bendigo based Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre (a program of the Advocacy & Rights Centre), presents the results of a Clayton Utz Foundation Fellowship to research Medical-Legal Partnership in the United States and the results of a preliminary survey of Australian Community Legal Centres regarding multi-disciplinary practice.

The report recommends the following steps be undertaken to advance Advocacy-Health Alliances in Australia:

  1. That a pilot MLP be established in Bendigo, and preparatory work be completed to identify and finalise critical supporting partnerships.
  2. The establishment of further pilot sites across Australia which will consciously and critically apply the MLP approach, and demonstrate its usefulness in the Australian context.
  3. Support for an Australian symposium which will stimulate and inform understanding of the MLP concept and explore its application by potential exponents.
  4. That consideration be given to establishing a national ‘centre’ to support the evolution of MLP in Australia.
  5. That critical specialist / academic partners be identified for guiding the development of appropriate monitoring and evaluation processes for MLP in Australia.
  6. That Clayton Utz give consideration to leading the Australian MLP movement by directly supporting MLP style clinics at a range of sites across the country, and through a diversity of means.
  7. That a comprehensive survey be conducted across Australian legal, health and social services to identify the nature and extent of existing multi-disciplinary practice akin to advocacy-health alliances.

Thanks

First and foremost the writer wishes to acknowledge the Clayton Utz Foundation for granting a fellowship to enable research into Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) and its application in Australia. In the words of Ellen Lawton, former director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, the Foundation ‘gets it’ – not only that there are natural synergies between health and advocacy services, but that investment is required to energise and animate a movement in Australia.

A close second comes my family, who graciously enabled me to travel to the United States for four weeks to see MLPs first hand during 2012, and my partner for helping to transcribe interview recordings. Next come all of the inspiring people that I met in the United States who have committed themselves to MLP and who gave up their time to share their insights. Finally come all of the rest (but not the least) who have contributed in so many ways: David Hillard (pro bono partner at Clayton Utz who saw MLPs’ potential from the outset, provided constant encouragement and made editorial suggestions for this report); Clare Brennan (who assisted with designing and initiating the Community Legal Centre survey); Clayton Utz staff who patiently transcribed the bulk of the interviews; peers in Australia who have been supportive of this work (particularly Mary Anne Noone, Fiona McLeay, Daina Richmond, Simon Rice and Ruth Townsend); the staff of the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre; and the executive team and board of its parent organization, the Advocacy and Rights Centre Ltd.

I hope that you enjoy the report and that it stimulates thought and practice to advance Advocacy-Health Alliances in Australia.

For further information regarding the report feel free to contact Peter Noble at peter@lcclc.org.au.

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