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Interview: Community Law Centres CEO Elizabeth Tennet

Liam Butler interviews Community Law Centres CEO Elizabeth Tennet

13 January 2015

Liam Butler

Elizabeth Tennet is the Chief Executive Officer of Community Law Centres o Aotearoa providing representation and advocacy on behalf of the 24 Community Law Centres of New Zealand; negotiation with funders; and networking, communication and liaison with members.

Question One

Have you had feedback from older people about how they are using now to know, teach and change the law?

We don't hold statistics on the age of a person who accesses our website, but with a million people a year obtaining information off our Community Law Manual there will be a large group of older people using it. There is also particular information on it that is helpful to older people, such as information on Enduring Powers of Attorney, disability rights, neighbourhood disputes and rights, buying and selling, family problems, and health and social care.

Question Two

There are 24 Community Law Centres across Aotearoa New Zealand which provide community outreach to over 140 locations. How can older people contribute to the running of these centres?

We enjoy the support of over 1200 people a year, mostly lawyers, who volunteer in Community Law Centres. But not everyone needs to be a lawyer. Volunteer help with reception and administration is also gratefully received. The best way to volunteer is to find out the contact details of your local Community Law Centre, found and ask if they would like some volunteer assistance.

Question Three

How does community law support older people that find they have purchased a product that does not appear to do its job, cost a lot of money and they are embarrassed about their purchase, e.g. Amazon herbs for impotence, magnets under wool for improved well-being?

The best way is just to visit or ring your local Community Law Centre. There is no need to feel embarrassed as our professional staff and volunteers are giving advice on these sorts of problems every day.

Question Four

What are the top three pieces of legislation you would like the government to amend in the new Parliamentary term and why?

We would like stronger laws protecting consumers from loan sharks, truck shops and businesses that specialise in selling directly to consumers in their homes, stronger employment laws that protect young people from exploitation (your grandchildren?) and stronger laws that reduce problem gambling and excessive alcohol consumption.

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