A Programme to Provide Pro Bono Advice and Representation to Asylum Seekers in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia

The Refugee Law Project

The Refugee Law Project arose out of a meeting of minds between barrister Victor Kline and some of his colleagues at the NSW Bar, and the teachers at the Thomas More Law School at the Australian Catholic University. For the barristers the Refugee Law Project was to be an opportunity to take advantage of the talents of the law school’s final year law students to help them provide pro bono (free) help to the many thousands of hitherto unrepresented asylum seekers appearing before the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. For the law school, the Refugee Law Project was an opportunity to expose their students to real world practical law, and to the thinking and approach to legal practice of experienced barristers. The original team of students has been augmented by students from other universities and by graduates of all ages. These are now known as Volunteer Litigation Assistants.

The VLAs attend first court date and offer the services of the Refugee Law Project to those asylum seekers who are unrepresented. From there on the VLA liaises with both the client and the advising barrister, as well as with interpreters and others who have agreed to assist the Refugee Law Project, to help the asylum seeker in whatever way they can, including making preliminary observations on the case for the benefit of the barrister. Once a barrister has advised that there are reasonable prospects of success and that therefore she/he will be handling the case for the client in court, the VLA then continues to assist in whatever way he/she can to bring the case to a satisfactory conclusion.

The Refugee Law Project is currently working with the help of 25 VLAs and 27 volunteer barristers as well as three solicitor advocates, with the full backing and support of the professors and lecturers at Thomas More Law School.

The Refugee Law Project is also honoured to have Sir William Deane, former High Court Justice and Governor-General of Australia as its patron. View a list of our Executive Team.

The Refugee Law Project aims take a proactive approach to providing pro bono assistance, by attending court and offering our help to unrepresented asylum seekers there. However, we are happy to be contacted directly. Just write to the Director, Victor Kline at victor@victorkline.com. Details of what the Refugee Law Project does, are available in multiple languages on the ‘What We Do’ page.