By Po Tsai and Autumn McNeill, Wellington Community Justice Project

Last month, VUWSA and the Wellington Community Justice Project released the VUWSA Know Your Rights Flatting Guide – a practical booklet that aims to teach students about their legal rights when it comes to tenancy. We got Victoria law students Po Tsai and Autumn McNeill to tell us about their involvement in the project.
VUWSA Know Your Rights Flatting Guide

Po: In early 2016, the Wellington Community Justice Project’s Education team worked with VUWSA to launch the Know Your Rights (KYR) project. We decided, thanks to the guidance of our Education leaders Briar Shaw, Mariah Hori Te Pa and Claire Young, on creating a flatting booklet – made for Vic students by Vic students – informing those new to flatting of their legal rights and responsibilities.

 

Autumn: The Education team was already the largest team in the Wellington Community Justice Project with over 45 volunteers. The only project that the Education team ran at that point was the Rights Education Project (REP), which involves presenting legal education modules to high school and alternative education students in the Wellington region. Establishing KYR was a clever way of reaching a greater pool of law students who could focus more on the production of legal resources rather than the presenting them. In a way, REP and KYR are like yin and yang.

With a keen interest for writing, and mild tolerance for research, it was easy for me to jump ship from volunteering in the REP team in 2015 and sail into new territory with KYR. For the first time, WCJP joined forces with the wonderful team at VUWSA to establish the project. We wanted the final flatting booklet to include not just legal content but practical know-how, handy tips and tricks, and real-life experiences. Naturally, our job as the law minds was to provide the legal research and writing, and present it in easily accessible language.

 

Po: In 2016, our KYR team consisted of Emily Totman, Claire Willis, Holly Cullen, and Autumn and myself – each of us with varying amounts of flatting experience. We were hard at work, with VUWSA, to draft the content of the booklet in five sections: Finding a Flat, Setting Up, Living in a Flat, Dealing with Problems and Leaving a Flat. By the end of the year, we had an awesome looking electronic copy of the booklet on the VUWSA website, but as we had difficulties finding sponsors to print the booklet, the project was somewhat stalled.

 

VUWSA Know Your Rights Flatting Guide

Autumn: This rain check was a blessing in disguise. 2017 brought with it new roles, as I was elected to the WCJP executive as an Education leader. Po and Holly continued to work with other organisations who had a keen interest in getting involved and contributing to our booklet. They had more meetings with VUWSA, the Sustainability Trust, Renters United and other stakeholders, to see what they could add to make the booklet even better.

 

Po: In September this year, our hard work paid off as the Wellington City Council agreed to fund the entire printing cost. So after almost two years since its inception, the VUWSA Know Your Rights Flatting Guide is now available online and in print! VUWSA has since distributed copies to Halls of Residence, just in time for the students beginning the flat-hunting process – which was one of our key aims.

The Know Your Rights project was aimed at informing the student community of their rights and we believe this informative and easy-to-read booklet does just that. It is likely (and I am hopeful) that the Know Your Rights project will continue on in 2018. If so, you can look forward to seeing more of these booklets in and around Victoria University and the Halls of Residence – stay tuned!

 

Autumn: This whole project absolutely would not have been possible without the support of VUWSA – so a massive thanks goes to Rory Lenihan-Ikin, Anya Maule, Kate Nichelchok and Christina Gillmore who drove the project forward with passion and enthusiasm. I look forward to seeing what the KYR project comes up with next!

You can find copies of the VUWSA Know Your Rights Flatting Guide around the Victoria University campuses, or check out the electronic version at: http://www.vuwsa.org.nz/flatting-guide/

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