HCLS is a community organisation whose aims are to foster community awareness of the law, to make the law more equitable and accessible to the public and to provide free legal information, advice and referral to the general public in southern Tasmania.
HCLS is one of over 160 community legal centres in Australia. The service provides the general community with free legal advice and referral to Legal Aid, other private practitioners and other community resources. The service also conducts legal education programs and works for law reform in areas affecting the general community.
The Hobart Community Legal Service Inc. started in 1985. Our purpose is to empower people, especially the socially-disadvantaged, to have full access to our system of law and justice and to community resources, particularly in order to facilitate greater autonomy in pursuit of justice.
HCLS's Mission Statement says that our aim "is to ensure that all members of the community in the Southern Tasmanian region, especially the disadvantaged, have easier access to a fairer and more equitable legal system".
HCLS carries out its mission by pursuing the following objectives:
- to provide accurate legal advice and information, and appropriate representation and referral, to our clients
- to promote community awareness of the Service and provide legal education to members of the community
- to encourage, within the community, involvement in law reform processes and to pursue, in concert with other community organisations, law reform to achieve social justice
- to ensure that we operate in an efficient, equitable, professional and cost-effective manner, with due accountability consistent with relevant 'best practice'.
HCLS is an Incorporated Association with office-bearers and a Committee of Management which is elected each year at an Annual General Meeting of the financial members of the Association. Financial membership of HCLS is open to any member of the public in Southern Tasmania whose application for membership is approved by the Committee of Management.
The Committee of Management is therefore responsible for the affairs of HCLS, on behalf of the membership. Between Committee meetings, these responsibilities rest with the office-bearers (the Executive). On a day-to-day basis, the responsibilities for the running of HCLS rest with the Director and the various staff employed by HCLS.
In addition, HCLS benefits from the commitment of time and expertise of a number of volunteers. Generally, at any one time, our volunteer work force numbers at least 40 solicitors, 20 community workers and 20 coordinators for the Evening Advice Service, and at least 12 volunteers for the Court Support Service.