UNSW Law and the V.M. Salgaocar College of Law in Goa, India have signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing the Child Rights Comparative Clinical Development Program, a unique cross-cultural clinical program providing students with legal and practical training in various aspects of children and family law.

The MOU between UNSW Law and VM Salgaocar College of Law is the first step towards formalizing and fostering a relationship between two institutions, both of which are keenly engaged in creating a safer and better world for children in their communities.

Under the agreement, each institution will identify a select group of students to participate in a 10-day program at the reciprocating university. The first program will be hosted by UNSW Law in November 2019, followed by a program in India in January 2020.

During the program, students will learn about the legal framework for the protection of children’s rights internationally, in India and Australia, and the students will work with each other on comparative projects to consider different ways in which each country can learn from the other’s experience. The students will also learn how the different clinical programs work in the different countries, offering students a glimpse of the various challenges and difficulties involved in the functioning and operation of clinics in different cultural and legal contexts.

UNSW Law and VM Salgaocar College of Law both have a long and proud history of providing legal services to their communities through student clinics, and the program will draw on those clinics particularly focussed on the protection of child’s rights.

The Child Rights Clinic of VM Salgaocar College of Law is an on-campus clinic established in 2015 to empower children who are victims of rights’ violations to stand up and defend themselves. The Clinic’s ‘Going to Court’ program ensures that children in the community have adequate access to justice needs. Through the clinic, students have also engaged in youth education programs in schools, and worked towards achieving significant legal reforms for protecting vulnerable children in the State. 

Part of the UNSW Law Faculty is the Kingsford Legal Centre, established in 1981. It provides a number of clinical legal education programs that students participate in to provide local community members with advice in a vast range of matters, including family law. One of the clinics operated out of the Kingsford Legal Clinic is the Family Law Community Education Clinic, which works with various community groups and community members on issues affecting families to develop education materials, as well as dealing with inquiries from the public in these areas.

Professor Gabrielle Appleby, Associate Dean (International and External Engagement) for UNSW Law, said the relationship with VM Salgaocar College of Law represents the type of institutional engagement UNSW is seeking in India. The two courses created by the agreement will give Indian and Australian students a comparative opportunity to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of legal protections for children’s rights.

“Students will gain a deeper understanding of the many and complicated issues involved in child rights protection, the vital importance of community-based legal services, as well as an opportunity to experience the different cultures of the other country,” Professor Appleby said. “We are confident that this agreement will be the start of a much longer collaboration which will lead to real world impacts in India and Australia."

Professor M.R.K. Prasad, Principal V.M. Salgaocar College of Law added: “The Program will enrich knowledge, facilitate the sharing of experiences and best practices and widen the horizons for both institutions.”

For more information about the UNSW Salgaocar Comparative Clinical Program, visit the international opportunities page at UNSW Law.

Larissa Mavros