Public Interest Law Careers Guide - Office of the Public Advocate

Field of Law

Disability, Health, Criminal

Stage of Career

Undergraduates; Graduates; Practising Lawyers

Contact details

Address: Level 1, 204 Lygon St, Carlton Victoria 3053
Phone: 1300 309 337
Visit the Office of the Public Advocate website
Contact person: Di Cahill - Volunteer Coordinator
Email: opavolunteers@justice.vic.gov.au

Description of Organisation

The Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) is an independent statutory body established by the Victorian State Government, working to protect and promote the interests, rights and dignity of people with a disability.

The vision and values of OPA are to work towards a just and inclusive society that values, respects, protects and promotes the dignity and human rights of all persons.

OPA provides a number of services to achieve this vision. These include advocacy, guardianship, research and policy, education and training and three volunteer programs - Community Visitors, Community Guardians and Independent Third Persons.

Number of legal positions within organisation: Three

Information for university students/graduates

Do you have a graduate clerkship program?

No.

How many law graduates do you employ outside your graduate program, and what sort of roles do they fill?

Four law graduates are employed at OPA who do not work as lawyers.  Two work as guardians and one works as coordinator of ITP program and one as the OPA Duty Officer at VCAT

Do you have a minimum Grade Point Average standard for an applicant's academic record?

No.

If there are any fails on a candidate's academic record how will they affect the recruitment process?

Not necessarily.

What sort of volunteer opportunities are available?

Community Visitors - visit Victorian accommodation facilities for people with a disability or mental illness to monitor and report on the adequacy of services provided, and talk to residents to ensure they are being cared for with dignity and respect.

Independent Third Person (ITP) Program - ITP's assist people with a cognitive disability or mental illness during interviews or when making formal statements to Victoria Police. They help facilitate communication and ensure people with a disability are not disadvantaged.

Community Guardians - act as independent guardians for Victorians with a disability who cannot make decisions for themselves. Community Guardians help them make personal and lifestyle decisions in their best interests.

Contact person for volunteers:  Di Cahill - Volunteer Coordinator

Information for practising lawyers

What are you looking for in a permanent employee?

  • A background in law that reflects awareness of human rights, especially those of people with disabilities, sound skills in statutory interpretation, writing and advocacy, an ability to learn new areas of law.
  • Non-legal background reflecting an awareness of social justice issues, compassion, empathy and common sense.

What prior work is viewed favourably?

Working with vulnerable and marginalised client groups (elderly, disabled, homeless, refugees etc.).

On average, how many positions become available per year?

There have been 3 appointments in the last 10 years.

How many applications do you receive for these?

20-30

Where do you advertise your positions?

On the Careers with the Victorian Government website and Office of the Public Advocate website

Do you use a recruitment agency?

No

Advice for applicants

Address the key selection criteria in the advertised position.

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