A Celebration of 40 Years of Unlocking The Law

It was about 4pm and The Tivoli was looking spectacular, even with a couple of large stepladders on the dance floor and various black clad technicians shouting technical things to each other. 

By 6.15 The tables were set, the seating plan was in place, the lighting and sound was ready, Megan and Karen had sprinkled the illicit illuminations on the tables and a feeling of anticipation was in the air.

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As the foyer began to fill up a swelling buzz of conversation and laughter gave those of us who had been sweating over this event a growing sense that we were among friends and, while we couldn’t relax quite yet, everything would be alright…

Christine Johnston as 'Madame Lark' seated playing her musical saw Our MC for the evening Madame Lark (aka Christine Johnston) played her musical saw to accompany our guests to their seats. As one distinguished guest put it, “[Madame Lark] added just the right amount of grunge for a Caxton Legal Centre event!”

We were privileged to be Welcomed to Country by songwoman Maroochy Barambah.

After the main course we heard from our keynote speaker for the evening, former President of Caxton Legal Centre and Caxton Hall of Fame member, Brian Herd.

Brian’s entertaining retelling of Caxton’s history saw us emerge as a little band of rebels in the “large, cloistered and inbred pond of the law” when “legal advice was a function of the depth of your pocket” and “injustice for most people was as simple as not knowing what the law was – let alone what to do about it.”

Brian went on to discuss the progression of Caxton and Community Legal Centres in general from, “a bit of moonlighting for the down and outs “ – as a colleague of Brian’s put itto today when we have “well and truly soothed the naysayers and denied the doomsayers”

Mr Herd then looked to the future and the

challenges faced by modern CLCs as we strive to deliver services from within our very own small ponds to a wider world deep in the throes of digital disruption and governmental obsessions with outsourcing.

In the fine tradition of volunteers since time immemorial Brian ended his speech with a genial complaint about the food provided for volunteers.  We can only hope that his plea to the Commonwealth Attorney General, Senator George Brandis, to permit a line item for food funding on any future grants to Community Legal Centres is heard.

Madame Lark then gave us an alternate history of Caxton with a heavy concentration on the comings and goings of  big hair and strangely apposite musical coincidences – did you know that 1976  was also the Birth of Punk, with the Saints recording in West End? Spooky!

Then it was time for the inductions into the Caxton Hall of Fame.
This recognises those outstanding volunteers who have contributed significantly to Caxton Legal Centre.

Caxton Legal Centre was honoured to have the Hall of Fame awards presented by Chief Justice Catherine Holmes.

Joseph Ho arriving at the Tivoli
Joseph Ho arriving at the Tivoli

We also took this opportunity to honour longstanding Caxton Family Lawyer Joseph Ho.

After dessert, a raffle and a short auction the Tivoli started swinging as ARIA awarded singer-songwriter Dan Kelly took command of the stage followed by the multigenerational groove of DJ Scorpio.

Caxton Legal Centre would like to thank our sponsors for this event –  Gold Sponsor, The Public Trustee and Silver Sponsor, Clayton Utz.