university of Otago
Meet the Team
Law Reform Leader
Legal Education Leader
WHO ARE WE?
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.
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
This is a social media project aimed at creating a space on our Facebook and Instagram channels for sharing and highlighting legal and social justice issues and activism. We want to encourage students to think about alternative viewpoints and have meaningful korero on the local and global issues 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.
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 either through our Facebook or Instagram.
Our Annual Quiz Night
Bring your flat to The Bog on Thursday to test your tiny minds with some trivia! Enjoy a bevvie (or four) as The Bog are putting on some food + drink deals for us! Quiz kicks off 6:30pm, Thursday 6 August. $5 cash per person at the door. Check the LFC Facebook page for the google doc sign up sheet!
Orokonui Tree Planting
LFC is coordinating with Orokonui to run a tree-planting event in early September at the Orokonui ecosanctuary! Volunteers will be treated to a guided tour before putting in some mahi weeding and planting, followed by kai at the Orokonui Cafe. Watch the facebook page for upcoming details!
Law For Change Otago’s annual launch took place on March 3rd, and proved to be a great success. The 2020 Executive had a chance to introduce themselves to the sizeable group which attended, as well as lay out plans for the upcoming year. Of particular interest was the creation of two new general roles on the Executive for Hannah Skelton and Jessie Smalberger, with the intention being that they would headline a number of initiatives, rather than be confined to a single portfolio. Numerous attendees signed up for the various opportunities which promised to present themselves in the coming months, including prison volunteering, tree planting, public discussions and fundraisers. All in all, the launch was a very positive occasion which, despite the difficulties presented by COVID-19, nevertheless provided a useful roadmap of LFCO’s plans for 2020.
In both semester one and semester two we held bake sale fundraisers in support of Foster Hope Otago. To engage students tangibly in the incredible work the organisation does for children in difficult circumstances, each bake sale offered the opportunity for them to swap either sanitary products of shampoo/conditioner in exchange for their sweet treat. Law for Change Otago stays in contact with Foster Hope Otago to determine what goods they are in need of at the time. The goods we collected went into the packs made to help children during transition between homes. Thank you to all of those who brought along sanitary or hygiene products and supported Foster Hope in their mission to make this world a better place for all children.
The screening of 'Merata Mita: How Mum Decolonised the Screen' was a great way for people to come together and learn about not only systemic racism, but also sexism in the New Zealand media. The film shed light on parts of New Zealand’s history which has largely been ignored or severely down-played. This event was particularly enlightening, with every person who attended commenting on their prior lack of awareness of the full extent to which Māori people have been oppressed and discriminated against in New Zealand. This provoked discussions around historical and media whitewashing in New Zealand. Students left with a better understanding of historical treatment and abuse of Maori, as well as a greater awareness of the misrepresentations that can be produced by the media, as well as a huge appreciation for an unsung hero in our film industry.
A NEW JUSTICE: STUDENTS AGAINST ARMED POLICE
On June 10 Law for Change Otago hosted a two part event. Firstly, the pop-in workshop aimed at adding student voices to the fight against the Armed Police trials that would disproportionately impact Maori and Pasifika communities and other minority groups. The workshop occurred just after the Police Commissioners announcement to cease the trials, however, the workshop acted as an important signifier that this was only the first step towards creating a more equitable justice system for all. The workshop provided email and letter templates for students to send to their local MPs and the Police Commissioner encouraging continued momentum, as well as providing crucial resources to educate themselves on systemic injustices, especially around the BLM movement and our own complicity in Aotearoa. The second part of the event was a screening of Moana Jackson’s ‘Why Maori Never had Prisons’. Aimed at igniting students' imagination when engaging in conversations around justice, this screening shows that safe and thriving societies exist, and have existed, without prison systems and heavy policing.
JUSTICE IS SERVED
in collaboration with JustSpeak
Run in collaboration with Just Speak as part of their Civic Dinners, Justice is Served was an evening event designed to open a korero around our current justice landscape. Beginning with abstracted anecdotes from those who have experienced the justice system first hand, facilitators engaged students in creating an imagination space for unpacking our collective vision of justice through a values-based lens. We then grounded this vision in the reality of systemic oppressions, namely racism, here in Aotearoa, before confronting the foundations of white privilege and the centrality of Pakeha culture. Students left educated, challenged, and empowered to start the work of decentering whiteness and engaging in their own koreros with their friends and whanau. The event took place in small groups, in which everyone felt safe to share their own stories and thoughts. Korero’s were founded on kindness, compassion and curiosity, and strength in our diverse lived experiences. Food was of course provided to nourish the students and create a warm atmosphere.