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university of Otago

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Law for Change Otago’s kaupapa is to amplify the voices of those less likely to be heard and challenge the injustices that underpin, and are perpetuated by, our current system. By providing opportunities for University of Otago students to give back to their community, we exist as a platform to raise awareness and create spaces for public interest law pathways. In doing so we aim to utilise our privilege for social justice.


Through a combination of projects our executive team and various volunteers lend a hand to different groups within the Ōtepoti community. By donating money, resources and time Law for Change Otago strengthens ties between organisations in need and the legal student body.


We aim to exist as an awareness and activation space for social justice issues, law reform, current events and global inequality. Through various mediums we endeavour to act as a megaphone for the voices of those who are silenced due to the systems that govern Aotearoa.


Law for Change Otago engages in public interest law by running events, facilitating and participating in korero and hosting volunteer programmes. By recognising and weaponising our privilege we strive to educate, advocate and lobby for social justice.  


Ma tini ma mono ka rapa te whai. By joining together we will succeed.






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Meet the Team
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hannah skelton

jessie smalberger

Vice President
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kelsey mitchell

georgia thompson

Social Secretary
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carrie wooller


Law Reform Leader
Social Representative
General Exec Member

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Bianca hawkins

Legal Education Leader
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Project Leader
Project Leader

Law for Change Otago facilitates and collaborates to put on numerous events through out the year, from bake sales, to quiz nights, community volunteer initiatives, and social justice engagement workshops and evenings. 

We would love to see you there! The best way to stay updated and ensure you do not miss out is to keep up through our Facebook or Instagram. 

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Law for Change Otago runs rehabilitative programmes at the Otago Corrections Facility. Around 25 law students are selected each year to run programmes such as creative writing, volleyball and art classes for the men at the prison. These programmes allow men in the criminal justice system to have a positive experience with student lawyers. Similarly, it provides law students with an opportunity to see what life is like for some people they may work with in the future. The effect is that both sides of the criminal justice system are humanised for the other. The programmes are often the highlight of the week for the men in the Corrections Facility, and the volunteers find the experience extremely fulfilling and rewarding.



“Prison volunteering at the Otago Correctional Facility (OCF) was one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had. I helped teach creative writing, and it was so rewarding to give the inmates an emotional outlet where they could creatively and openly express themselves through poetry and story telling. They learnt so much from us and we learnt so much from them.”

- Ruby Adams, 4th Year Law Student

“Volunteering at OCF was an incredible experience which gave me the rare opportunity of interacting with members of our society that we often neglect. I was lucky enough to be a part of the creative writing workshops, which allowed me to learn so much about the people within my group and share in their experience and challenges. I valued the time I got to spend there so much and I hope that the members of my group enjoyed it as well. Coming together for moments of laughter, conversation and learning was something I feel very privileged to have been a part of.”

- ​Lily McCormick, 5th Year Law Student

Our social media project


Aiming to create a dedicated space to facilitate discussion and activism on social justice issues

Social change begins with becoming informed about a particular issue.

So, we created the #youshouldbebothered project to highlight important local and global issues that encourages students to think about alternative viewpoints and have a meaningful kо̄rero on things that matter.

Ultimately, the project aims to inspire students to think critically and be impassioned by social justice issues, so that these values shape how they contribute to their wider communities, be it through their formal jobs or otherwise. 

The YSBB project has helped to facilitate social change, particularly in raising awareness and encouraging action against the issue of the legality of Conversion Therapy in New Zealand. Our YSBB post on the issue, with a reach of over 5,000, was shared over 850 times and urged those who saw to email the Minister for Justice demanding urgent action to ban such therapy. Within weeks, togteher with a Green party petition on the issue that was signed by over 150,000 New Zealanders, Labour expressly promised to ban conversion therapy by February 2022 (at the latest).

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This workshop focused on ways people could "Speak Up and Speak Out" against sexual harassment in the workplace. 

We heard from Joy Liddicot, a member of the New Zealand Law Society Working Group, and participated in Bystander Training, run by Bell Murphy.


Legal ReformTrip 

"As Law Reform leader, it is my job to get a team together to research and submit on a Bill that is being considered by Parliament. This year, we’re looking at a few Bills, including the Radio NZ Charter reform and the Biosecurity Amendment Bill.


As a group of 4 we will travel to Wellington and present our submission before the Select Committee, which will give us a great insight into the real-life operations of Parliament and the law-making process. I’m really excited to see what the team will come up with!"

- Chiara Ireland, Law Reform Leader



Faculty of Law
University of Otago
PO Box 56
Dunedin 9054


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