Liberty Victoria's Rights Advocacy Project (RAP)

YLLR is now officially Liberty Victoria's Rights Advocacy Project. New name. New web site. Same commitment to Human Rights. 

Formerly Young Liberty for Law Reform, Rights Advocacy Project is a community of lawyers and activists working to advance human rights in Australia. We’re part of Liberty Victoria, one of Australia’s leading human rights organisations.

We work across a range of issues including equality, government accountability, refugee and asylum seeker rights and criminal justice reform. Find out about our recent work at our website and Facebook page.

Our program

Each March, we take on around 18 volunteers to work on strategic law reform and advocacy projects over a 13–month period. The program launches with a full day of training on everything from the political process and campaign strategy to social media.

Volunteers are placed in one of three human rights-themed teams: Equality and Government Accountability, Refugees and Asylum Seekers and Criminal Justice Reform. These teams are supervised by two leading human rights experts and a member of the Steering Committee. As a team, they choose an issue to tackle and go about making change.

Our work

Refugees/Asylum Seekers

  • April 2016: Rights Advocacy Project released a report entitled 'Operation Secret Borders', launching it with a sold-out event at The Wheeler Centre. Read Ben Doherty's piece in The Guardian about the report here.
  • September 2015:  RAP released a report 'The Benefit of the Doubt: Improving the procedures for determing the age of asylum seeker children'. Read Ben Doherty's piece in The Guardian about the report here
  • March 2015:   RAP volunteers designed the FairGo4Refugees campaign and produced a video calling for funding for legal representation for asylum seekers to be reinstated after sweeping cuts in March 2014 by the Federal Government.  The campaign was supported by leading Australian refugee organisations including the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Refugee & Immigration Legal Centre and Refugee Advice & Casework Service.
  • February 2015: Volunteers held a Midsumma Event on Australia’s treatment of LGBTI asylum seekers.  Australia currently processes, and proposes to resettle, all asylum seekers who arrive by boat in PNG where consensual gay sex is criminalized. Find out more about this issue in the interviews with  RAP on BentTV (Channel 31) here and here and on RightNow Radio on 3CR.
  • September 2013:  RAP volunteers ran an event on alternative asylum seeker policy, which was attended by over one hundred members of the public and raised funds for Liberty Victoria. Speakers Jessie Taylor, Associate Professor Savitri Taylor and Dr Anne McNevin discussed current issues surrounding the asylum seeker policies.

Equality and Government Accountability

  • October 2016: RAP volunteers met with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, presenting their briefing paper entitled 'Human Rights Defenders in Australia’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights'. Read the briefing paper here.
  • April 2016:  RAP launched which helps commuters understand their legal rights when faced with a Myki fine. The website was covered by The Age, Triple R and 774 ABC Melbourne, and has received more than 60,000 visitors to date. In May 2016 the Andrews Government announced it would be scrapping on-the-spot penalty fares, citing pressure from legal groups as one of the reasons. 
  • August 2015  RAP volunteers are assisting Julian Burnside AO QC and a team of barristers to help commuters understand their rights when contesting on the spot myki fines. You can read about this work in The Age.
  • September 2015:  RAP supervisor Matthew Albert and volunteer Dale Straughen published an article in Right Now magazine on the private use of drones and privacy laws
  • July 2015:  RAP released a report on report arguing that the ‘Special Religious Instruction’ program in Victorian State schools is a human rights law issue. In September 2015, the Victorian Government announced the scrapping of the program.
  • March 2015: a RAP volunteer wrote an article in Spook Magazine on the serious privacy implications of the mandatory data retention laws. 
  • January 2015: Submission to Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.  The report emphasised the current inconsistencies in the Constitution and the substantive protections that could be incorporated into constitutional recognition to better adhere to international legal obligations.
  • August 2014: YLLR volunteers contributed to a joint submission by civil liberties bodies around Australia on the first tranche of amendments to the national security legislation, including significant extensions to the powers of ASIO to gather intelligence and collaborate with other organisations.

   Criminal Justice

  • March 2016: What happens to people when they are released from prison? This video explores some of the many issues facing people leaving the prison system. 
  • November / December 2016: RAP together with Done By Law at 3CR ran a series of shows looking at how government can improve prevention of and response to family violence. Episode one available here, and the rest of the programs accessible from Done by Law:
  • September 2015: The Victorian Ombudsman released her report of the investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria, picking up many of YLLR's key recommendations.
  • December 2014: RAP volunteers wrote a submission to the Victorian Ombudsman’s investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria.  The submission considered the effect of security regimes, such as solitary confinement, on the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners, and the vital role of educational programs in the Victorian Ombudsman’s investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in Victoria.
  • August 2013: RAP volunteers wrote a submission to the Victoria Police Community Consultation on Field Contacts and Cross Cultural Communication. This submission focused on a cross-jurisdictional comparison of racial profiling bias and was written under the guidance of criminal law barrister Michael Stanton. 

Our Steering Committee

The RAP program is run by volunteers for volunteers.  The steering committee facilitates the RAP program, and is in charge of recruitment, liaising with Liberty Victoria, monitoring pod progress, and assisting with projects as needed.

Meet our current steering committee:

  • Katharine Brown - Chair
  • Emma Buckley Lennox - Deputy Chair, Treasurer and Equality & Government Accountability Advocacy Coordinator
  • Louise McNeil - Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator
  • Grace Duncan - Community Coordinator
  • Alina Leikin - Strategic Advocacy Traning Coordinator
  • Lexi Lachal - Refugee Advocacy  Coordinator
  • Kelsey Ryan - Criminal Law Advocacy Coordinator and Community Coordinator
  • Communications Coordinator - Esther Semo
  • Volunteer Coordinators - Paige Darby (Criminal), Lauren Bull (Refugees and Asylum Seekers) and Esther Faine-Vallantin.
  • General Committee Member - Elizabeth Colliver.

Volunteer Testimonials

"The YLLR program has helped me find a place for the things I feel passionately about that I don't get a chance to express at law school. I've loved the mentoring aspect, and it's been great to see the diverse people that are involved with Liberty Victoria, and to see that involvement with human rights advocacy can sit alongside a career elsewhere."                                                                           

- 2014 YLLR volunteer, Criminal Justice Pod

"The YLLR Program was an exciting opportunity to pursue projects on issues we cared about, backed up by advice, support and direction from some of the best minds in Victoria's law reform community."

 - 2014 YLLR volunteer, Equality Pod

"The YLLR program was a fantastic opportunity to meet and work with a small group of dedicated and genuinely handsome individuals who want to apply their legal skills and knowledge to more than just the Transfer of Land Act.  Helping to write a submission in response to the National Security Amendment Bill was a challenging and at times frustrating experience. However working within a respected organisation like Liberty Victoria enabled me to not only understand but feel like I was making a meaningful contribution to the process whereby laws are made in this country." - Gram, 2014 YLLR volunteer, Privacy Pod