First Nations Wills Clinic in Logan City

  • Media
July 25,2022
The Colin Biggers & Paisley Foundation was proud to recently partner with YFS Legal to run an Indigenous Wills Clinic at Burringilly Community Care Centre in Queensland. Burringilly is Logan City’s peak body representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and their families, while YFS Legal is Logan City's only community legal centre.
This pro-bono initiative was the first Indigenous Wills Clinic run in Queensland in partnership with a community legal centre, pro bono lawyers and a community centre. It's also important work considering that in Australia today, 55% of adults have a will but only 4% of First Nations adults have one and, sadly, over 70% of burial disputes involve First Nations people.
Together with YFS Legal, our team, which included Conor Sheridan, Tamara Sims, Enid van Jaarsveld, Charlie Harris, Jack Kerin, Conor Gillam, Amy Dugan, Jacob Currie and Jessica Xu, under the support and guidance of Jon Meadmore, travelled to Logan to interview clients at Burringilly and to draft wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney documents for them.

(L) to (R): Amy Dugan, Jacob Currie, Conor Sheridan, Tamara Sims, Charlie Harris, Enid van Jaarsveld

Our team found the wills clinic experience very rewarding, enabling them to help people like Aunty Maureen* whose daughter had recently passed away prompting her to want to re-draft her will and to think about important end-of life decisions. Aunty Maureen expressed how grateful she was to know that her affairs are now in order.
Amy Dugan, graduate in the Pro Bono and Responsible Business team, said that "it was such a gift to be able to meet the Elders at Burringilly and to hear their stories. The practical legal assistance that YFS and CBP have provided by drafting wills and Powers of Attorney documents and offering education on things such as making nominations for superannuation funds and life insurance policies will have a significant, positive impact on the lives of all the clients."
CDR solicitor, Conor Sheridan, thanked YFS and the volunteer solicitors for their assistance in running the clinic, noting that "although we were discussing some difficult topics it was a very positive experience meeting and learning about the clients in attendance and I am glad that we were able to give them some peace of mind that their wishes will be carried out in the future." 
Conor Gillam, graduate in the Insurance team, said that the clinic provided "an opportunity to acknowledge and give effect to the testamentary wishes of Indigenous people who, for so long, have been at the greatest risk of being unseen and unheard in our society."
Property and Development graduate, Jack Kerin, described the clinic as "a great opportunity to learn new legal skills while providing a service to the community. We were able to assist the people of Burringilly to express their wishes in written form and in the long term benefit themselves, their families, and the people that love them by providing the crucial element of certainty when they pass."
Over three days, the team drafted wills and Power of Attorney documents for 24 clients, offering each client the peace of mind that their end-of-life affairs are now in order. We are looking forward to partnering with YFS Legal and other community organisations to run more wills clinics in the future.