Legal Aid boss Kyna Morice is quietly making a difference in the Western Downs

Brandon Long
By Brandon Long
Updated November 22 2021 - 3:36am, first published November 19 2021 - 4:00am
Legal Aid Queensland principal lawyer (Toowoomba office) Kyna Morice and her team started a new family legal services clinic for Miles. Photo: Brandon Long

Lawyer Kyna Morice is best known for her work on big public cases involving murder, sexual assault and fraud, but what most people don't know is she is quietly making a difference in small Western Downs communities.

The Legal Aid Queensland principal lawyer for Toowoomba specialises in criminal law, which often involves serious crimes.



But she's also passionate about helping people out west access family law advice, which includes child protection and domestic violence, divorce and property settlement.

When assessing office resources last year, Ms Morice identified Miles as a family law 'blackspot' and wanted to change that.

She began talks with Murilla Community Centre, which provides childcare, housing, transport and other support, and the idea to collaborate was born.

"We just got talking about how many clients they had coming in and needed advice, and there seemed to be quite a need there, so we set up a regular phone clinic at the time because it was amongst COVID," she said.

"The clients would come in to see them and then they were able to say, 'You know what, we can actually get you some advice. We're connected with Legal Aid'."

LAQ sets aside a day each fortnight where it holds clinics specifically to Murilla, with two LAQ family lawyers either calling the clients at home or at Murilla.

Ms Morice acknowledged meeting clients face-to-face was important, but it wasn't always possible, especially during a pandemic.

"Even though we want to make sure we're seeing people face-to-face as often as we can, because we think that's really important - both in client interviews and going into court - it's very difficult in such a large region to do that for everybody.

"There's not been a need for us to go out [to Miles] face-to-face yet, but certainly, that's always on the cards."

LAQ doesn't currently have a criminal law clinic with Murilla but is "certainly open to that" if the need arises.

In the New Year, LAQ will be looking at other areas where it might be able to set up more clinics.

LAQ also has a farm and rural legal service where lawyers visit producers and businesses who are in financial distress and can also conduct mediations with banks.

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In addition to being Toowoomba's LAQ boss, Ms Morrice is also Regional Legal Assistance forums chair.

RLAFs are a chance for legal service providers to meet each quarter and identify legal needs in their areas.

RLAFs held many community legal education programs throughout the region prior to COVID and Ms Morice is hopeful of them starting again.



"We'll hopefully kick one off next year in the region. It will be the first time back on the road again, which would be great," she said.

"We go into schools throughout the region and give an education session on particular topics."

Ms Morice's work was recently recognised by the Women Lawyers Association of Queensland, which presented her with the 2021 Regional Woman Lawyer of the Year award at its annual dinner.

"I was so chuffed to be nominated, let alone actually be selected as a finalist," she said,

"My personal passion and why I love the work that I do, is just getting services out to vulnerable people in remote communities. Making sure that simply because people can't afford to fuel their car or live in a reception black spot - that doesn't mean they can't get some kind of advice service at least.

"That's where I'll be trying to do more work in - really just trying to make sure that remote communities don't feel like they're getting left behind."



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Brandon Long

Brandon Long

Queensland Country Life journalist

Brandon Long is a Queensland Country Life journalist based in Toowoomba.

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