21 November 2016
Celebrating Volunteers in the Solomon Islands:For the Love of the Law and Life in the Solomons
Only the very lucky can say that they do what they love and have new adventures almost every day. The rare opportunity to live this sort of life was presented to Clancy Dane when he took on a volunteer position at the Public Solicitor’s Office (PSO) in Honiara on 7 June 2016.
Navigating Solomon Islands’ legal system, assisting ordinary people, and travelling throughout a tropical archipelago are just part of Clancy’s job description as the Family Protection Unit Support Lawyer. Even more memorable are the friendships, the laughs and the moments of pure gratitude.
The PSO provides legal aid to ordinary people in Family, Civil, Environmental, and Criminal cases. Clancy has been working alongside local counterparts in a number of areas with a particular focus on family violence.
The assignment comes at a critical time following the introduction of new laws aimed at supporting victims of domestic violence. Not only has Clancy had the chance to assist the implementation of these new laws through direct involvement in matters before the Courts, but also to attend policy workshops and provide training to a variety of organisations in the field.
Clancy has come to the Solomon Islands after a number of years working as a solicitor for the Aboriginal Legal Service in Western New South Wales. Clancy says the opportunity to share his experience with local colleagues and to gain further exposure has been immensely satisfying.
“I can only hope my colleagues have gained half as much as I have from being here. After this I will see the world through a different filter. I can’t expect to have had that sort of profound effect on anyone else but I can certainly try my best to return the favour.
It’s not just the work that brings us together, intense as that is, when I look back on this time I’ll think of the cases, the clients, the PSO volleyball team, the times the electricity cut out so we sat around in the dark telling stories, all the wonderful small moments that make you smile for a second while you reflect on where you are,” he said.
During the remainder of his assignment Clancy will also support the PSO on a number of planned projects that will assist the disabled and those in remote communities to access legal support.
Clancy’s assignment is funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Volunteers for International Development program (AVID), managed in Solomon Islands by AVI. Each year 45 new volunteers arrive in Solomon Islands as part of the AVID program. Their contribution will be highlighted on December 5, International Volunteers Day.