Pornography? Confidentiality and doctors? STDs? What do these have to do with the law? Plenty. And young people? Ditto. So last week our Community Legal Education Worker, Charlotte Powell, teamed up with Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) to co-host community legal education sessions at two local schools for Law Week 2012. The sessions empowered almost 200 years 10 and 11 students by informing them of their rights and responsibilities.
A panel of experts from the legal and health sectors worked to a Q&A format in front of students at Bendigo Senior Secondary, Girton Grammar and Bendigo South East College. The panel covered social media, sexting, cyber bullying, teen pregnancy, contraception, the age of consent, discrimination, you name it. And while the sessions were open and candid, the students obviously appreciated the opportunity to air questions and concerns with relevant experts in a non-judgemental and often light-hearted forum.
Lisa Natoli, Manager at Loddon Mallee Dispute Settlement Centre, MCd the two events and revealed in a later ABC Central Victoria interview that despite initial reservations, the teenagers went easy on her. “I must admit, when Charlotte first told me the topic, I thought, oooh, a room full of teenagers and me blushing out the front.” But as the interview confirms, the students appreciated the candour and breadth of knowledge brought to the event by the panel.
As Lisa Pointed out, teenagers are often leading the way with technology, but the law is lagging behind. And the law affects young women and young men differently in relation to sex, with young men sometime unaware of the repercussions of their actions.
The panel included Sylvia Andrew (Centre Against Sexual Assault), Louise Holland (Bendigo Community Health Service), Clare Vierboom (VLA), Travis Edwards (Private practice counsellor), Stephen Payne (VLA), Matthew Gildea (Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Unit, Victoria Police Bendigo).
Law Week runs every year in May and is coordinated in Victoria by the Victorian Law Foundation.
Image: courtesy Bendigo Advertiser