Celebrating our Pro Bono law student volunteers on National Volunteer Week
By Cancer Council NSW
The theme of this year’s National Volunteer Week 2022 (16 – 22 May) is Better Together. Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Program is exceptionally proud of the work our volunteers do and we could not deliver our pro bono services without their support. Our volunteers help us to bring people together, build stronger communities and help vulnerable members of our community gain access to legal, financial and workplace advice.
Our Pro Bono Program is supported by a panel of external volunteer professionals who provide people affected by cancer with free legal, financial and workplace advice. It is also internally supported by student volunteers, who contact patients and their families seeking assistance to assess their eligibility for the service and unpack their legal, financial and workplace needs.
This Volunteer Week, we interviewed one of our student volunteers, Claudia St John, a law student at the University of Wollongong, about her time volunteering with Cancer Council.
When did you start volunteering with Cancer Council and why?
I started volunteering within the Pro Bono Program at Cancer Council in December 2021. As I am approaching the end of my law degree, I decided that volunteering would be the best way to apply my existing legal knowledge, gain administration experience and work within a team environment, whilst still giving back to the community. I chose to volunteer at Cancer Council as I am interested in pursuing a career within the not-for-profit/community legal sector. I also have a personal connection to cancer, as I have family members and friends who have lived with a cancer diagnosis and have accessed Cancer Council’s support services.
What does an average day volunteering involve?
An average day involves making calls to clients to assess their eligibility for pro bono assistance and to scope the assistance they require as well as receiving incoming calls from clients, carers and social workers. I am involved in managing case work on the program’s database, inputting client details and keeping a record of all contact made to clients. I often draft referrals to be sent to our volunteer legal and financial professionals, and regularly compose emails. Throughout the day I collaborate with other Pro Bono team members who always provide guidance and support with my days’ work.
What is the most rewarding part of volunteering?
The most rewarding part of volunteering at Cancer Council is being able to assist clients who are in particularly vulnerable and stressful situations due to their cancer diagnosis and financial hardship. Often the people I speak to are very appreciative of the work that not only I as a volunteer do but Cancer Council as a whole. It is very gratifying to hear that I am a part of such a reputable organisation that is benefiting so many.
What would you say to another law student thinking about volunteering with Cancer Council?
It has been an absolute pleasure to volunteer within such a supportive and close-knit team environment. It has reignited my passion for social justice and has solidified my intention to provide legal assistance to those who need it most in our community. I would recommend volunteering within the Pro Bono Program to anyone but specifically law students who are interested in gaining the skills to effectively communicate with clients and to understand the application of the law to everyday situations.
We can’t thank Claudia, and all our other generous volunteers, enough for the work they do.
It’s together, with our volunteers, that we can ensure that people affected by cancer can access legal, financial and workplace assistance when they need it the most.
If you are interested in volunteering with Cancer Council’s Pro Bono Program, as a professional or a student, please email email@example.com for more information.