UWA Law student Lucas Pensini has contributed 100 hours towards a state-wide initiative that looks to embed legal support into WA health services to provide greater access to justice for disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the community.
“I decided to apply for a McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship as I wanted to engage with my degree in a real-world setting, whilst being able to contribute to the community,” said Lucas.
Lucas completed the internship at Legal Aid WA through UWA’s McCusker Centre for Citizenship, undertaking extensive research to compile a report with WA-specific recommendations for this law and health initiative, called ‘health justice partnerships’.
“Health justice partnerships are designed to allow legal services to intertwine with health services to ensure vulnerable people can be engaged with,” said Lucas.
Health justice partnerships are based on the idea of breaking down barriers between health and legal services to more holistically address complex and intersecting problems in people’s lives.
Lucas researched the design, implementation and application of health justice partnerships across Australia, liaising with legal organisations across the country and working around the challenge of a mid-internship COVID-19 lockdown.
“A highlight of the internship was knowing that I was working on something that will help people and be of great benefit to the West Australian community. Health and legal issues can affect anyone, and it was great to engage with such an innovative project aiming to integrate two vital components of society,” said Lucas.
Lucas’ research culminated in a report that he recently presented to the Legal Aid Civil Division, putting forth recommendations for a best practice model for health justice partnerships in WA.
Legal Aid WA’s Director Civil Law Division, Gemma Mitchell, said “Legal Aid WA has enjoyed a successful partnership with the McCusker Centre for Citizenship for several years. Lucas’ internship was particularly noteworthy because of the amazing work he completed on the health justice partnership project, despite being hampered by a snap lockdown.
“The report means that even more Western Australians will have access to justice through Legal Aid WA’s services. We look forward to implementing his recommendations.”
Lucas recommends the McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship program to all students.
“The internship provided the perfect opportunity to gain real world experience and engage in meaningful and rewarding work. I gained a better understanding of the importance of being a community-involved individual,” said Lucas.