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I feel empowered, I know my rights: Communities empowered by peer educators and paralegals

By: Jacinta Maloney

This report is based on the experience and knowledge of people working in a diverse range of peer education and paralegal programs who were interviewed for this project. Participants interviewed worked in organisations supporting, educating and empowering communities in Victoria, Australia and overseas: in the Philippines, Cambodia, Eastern Europe and South Africa.

The power of peers is explored through the use of peers in the community health sector to support, inform and educate others on health issues and harm-reduction strategies. Recent Australian surveys have found peers to be a primary source of advice and support, more likely to be consulted in resolving problems than a lawyer. A focus on peer education programs in three organisations illustrates the effectiveness of peer educators to reach, educate and empower their peers within marginalised communities.

Legal empowerment strategies, such as legal literacy and capability training, community legal education, peer legal education and paralegal programs are considered in this report. A range of paralegal programs operating in diverse communities in Asia, Europe and Africa are examined. The diversity of these programs shows that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to paralegal models – they must evolve to meet the legal needs of the communities they serve. Common to these programs is improved access to legal services for their communities. This report highlights the positive impacts and strengths of the community paralegal programs examined, as well as the challenges faced.

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Uploaded on: Mar 31, 2015
Last Updated: Apr 06, 2016
Year Published: 2014
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