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Law students assist in Retta Dixon case

By Katie Weiss

Law lecturer Ken Parish is helping to supervise CDU students volunteering with the firm Law lecturer Ken Parish is helping to supervise CDU students volunteering with the firm

Law students are volunteering in a class action launched following hearings by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Darwin last year.

Charles Darwin University students are assisting Piper Barristers and Solicitors, the leading law firm representing alleged victims of abuse at the Retta Dixon Home, run by the Aborigines Inland Mission from the 1940s until 1980.

Some of the 12 students are assisting the Darwin-based law firm as part of CDU’s clinical legal education program and others in a volunteer capacity.

Law lecturer Ken Parish said the students were sourcing a range of archival material and undertaking a range of other research tasks, while under appropriate supervision.

“Organising a case like this can be very labour-intensive,” Mr Parish said.

“It is this sort of hard and long work that students can do while under the supervision of myself or other lawyers involved.”

Mr Parish said students received introductory training, which involved understanding confidentiality obligations and a range of other issues involved in working with vulnerable client groups.

Some more experienced students will also work directly with alleged victims under lawyer supervision.

“It is important that students not only gain a thorough understanding of the law, but also have a social conscience and practise legal ethics,” he said.

“Law is a profession where we have an obligation to give back to the community.”

Mr Parish said the students were based internally in Darwin, and externally in Melbourne and Adelaide.

“The students think it’s really worthwhile to be involved.”

About 50 claimants known as the Retta Dixon Claimants Group are being represented by Piper Barristers and Solicitors.