Street Law clients represent some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Western Australia, and at times clients may present with challenging behaviours or in a depressed, anxious or aggressive state. Street Law has code words that the solicitor or volunteer/secondees can use at a legal clinic to alert each other when they feel uneasy or unsafe.
If at a legal clinic:
A client discusses distressing or upsetting material
- Advise the solicitor by using the code word ‘PURPLE’.
- Excuse yourself from the interview room.
- Ask host agency staff if you can sit in the office area. Make sure you know where this is at the start of the clinic.
A client is aggressive, intimidating or threatening
- Advise the solicitor by using the code word ‘RED BOOK’.
- Immediately terminate the interview.
- Use the duress alarm (if one is located in the interview room) and the personal alarms (which will be provided to you). Immediately leave the room through the closest exit and close the door behind you.
- It is important that if you need to exit quickly that the duress alarm is activated so that the host agency staff are aware of the situation.
- The host agency staff may then contact the Police.
A client talks about acts of self-harm or threats of suicide
- Immediately alert the host agency staff.
- See rule 9(3)(e) of the Legal Profession Conduct Rules 2010 (WA), which reads –
(3) Despite subrule (2), a practitioner may disclose client information to a person if —
(e) the practitioner discloses the information for the purpose of preventing imminent serious physical harm to the client or to another person;
If you would like to speak to someone if any of the above situations occur, remember you can talk to the staff at Street Law, or you can contact Converge on 1300 687 327 for 24/7 assistance.