Greg Barns SC of Salamanca Chambers in Tasmania has taken many complex Law Access pro bono referrals in the area of human rights and administrative law over the years. Greg was ahead of the curve, providing extensive pro bono legal assistance remotely before the rest of us began working remotely due to the pandemic. We recently asked Greg about what motivates him to offer pro bono support to asylum seekers based in Western Australia?
1. Why do you continue to provide pro bono legal assistance to asylum seekers?
I have been appalled for two decades now at Australia’s mistreatment of asylum seekers. As a lawyer, I can assist asylum seekers by acting for them to ensure their case is well presented.
2. You are based in Tasmania but provide pro bono legal assistance to applicants around the country including in Western Australia. What special challenges does this pose?
The Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court use technology very well and so many hearings in Perth I have are conducted by videolink. I would also say I have found the lawyers acting for the Minister or government in asylum seeker cases generally very fair and accommodating.
3. What message do you have for lawyers who are considering providing remote pro bono legal assistance?
Do it. In this day and age, and particularly in the COVID and post COVID environment more hearings are being conducted online. There is no disadvantage to conducting cases that way. I do travel occasionally to WA and was over there earlier in the year for a case. I also travel to Melbourne and Sydney for pro bono work.