In October 2019, the Colin Biggers & Paisley Foundation received a pro bono referral from the Cancer Council Pro Bono service to assist a 69-year-old woman who had recently been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and had less than 24 months to live. Our client was at that time receiving treatment at Princess Alexandra Hospital and was also a single mother with an 18-year-old daughter. Our client's main concern throughout this process, and after being diagnosed as terminally ill, was to ensure her young daughter was looked after and had a roof over her head after our client passed away. Through our pro-bono work we have been able to assist her in a range of different ways.
Initially, the CDR Team
of Mathew Deighton, Nicole Franklin and Natalia Hallum
assisted our client to apply for early access to her superannuation and death benefits insurance on terminal illness grounds. Their objective was to avoid any possibility of delays and expedite the application to ensure prompt payment of the entitlements. The client received a positive start to the new year, with a lump sum, tax-free payment of approximately $400,000.
Whilst the CDR team were working on the early access to superannuation issue, the Employment team
of Megan Kavanagh
, Leanne Dearlove and Roxanne Hilton
provided advice and assistance regarding our client's former employer and her rights in relation to her absence from work without pay once diagnosed with breast cancer. At this stage our client's daughter was holding down two jobs (on top of her University studies) to support herself and her mother for all of their expenses - rent, electricity, food etc.
The employment team worked to resolve this issue for our client but unfortunately, shortly after lodging a General Protections Claim on her behalf, her employer went into liquidation. Rather than give up there, the Insolvency Team
of Glen Williams
and Courtney McDade
stepped in to guide the Employment team on lodging a proof of debt with the employer, as well as applying for Fair Entitlements Guarantee assistance.
As a result of our teams' work, our client was able to purchase a unit for her daughter with her superannuation payout and our Property Team
of Rhett Oliver, Julia Hewitt and Angela Spear
assisted with the conveyance of the property so our client and her daughter were able to secure a home.
"I am so grateful to you all for all your efforts. Even though your work may seem everyday practice, you have produced life changing results for me and my daughter. I am now able to fulfil the dream of setting up my daughter with a roof over her head long after I'm gone. Once again, our deepest gratitude."
Our client wanted to show her appreciation for the support and legal assistance provided by Colin Biggers & Paisley and recently attended the Brisbane office with her daughter for morning tea, bringing a beautiful cake with them. Our client commented that the assistance we were able to give to her and her daughter absolutely changed their lives.
"This is absolutely incredible! Thank you for sharing this outcome with me - I have goosebumps from reading this. Please pass along our thanks to each and every CBP team member who worked across this case, we are absolutely blown away by the outcomes your firm has been able to achieve for this pro bono client. It is clear your firm has gone above and beyond to assist and I can only imagine the relief Patricia must feel. We are certainly very fortunate to work with your firm through our service, supporting people affected by cancer in this way."
Laura Muir, Pro Bono Specialist at the Cancer Council Pro Bono Program