Tribute to Karen Merrin, a true community champion
Consumer Protection today paid tribute to Karen Merrin, a tireless champion of the community services sector, who has lost her battle with cancer.
Karen, a Consumer Protection Award winner in 2017, was the inaugural manager of the Northern Suburbs Community Legal Centre (NSCLC) in Mirrabooka when it first opened in 1996. The Centre delivers advice, advocacy and representation to almost 4,000 people each year in the areas of family, civil, criminal, family violence, tenancy and seniors’ rights law.
The Centre also conducts education courses on a range of subjects for clients and supports those from many culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Under Karen’s leadership over 20 years, the Centre expanded to Edith Cowan University in Joondalup and at Wanneroo, eventually employing 20 people including lawyers, advocates, tenancy workers, educators and client service officers.
Among her many achievements is the development of a partnership with the Edith Cowan University School of Law which provides law students with the opportunity to undertake a community law course and spend time working in the Centre. Up to 15 students each year are given the chance to further their career through graduate law placements at NSCLC. A number of students in the program are now lawyers working in other community legal centres, private firms and across government.
Karen assisted with the establishment of community legal centres in the Goldfields and Wheatbelt and was Chairperson of the Association of Community Legal Centres for many years. She was instrumental in setting up Tenancy WA, the Women’s Law Centre, the Employment Law Centre as well as a Special Domestic Violence/Health Justice Partnership with Legal Aid WA.
Karen believed that the best way to deliver services was to develop, nurture and maintain partnerships with communities, community organisations and government. One of her priorities was to establish strong networks that work collaboratively to achieve positive outcomes for the community.
Karen’s philosophy was to “never forget that we are here because of the client so stand in their shoes when you make a decision or decide on the delivery of a program”.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping honoured the life of Karen Merrin, describing her as a passionate, determined and energetic worker for the community.
“Karen had an immense impact on many people throughout her long career, setting up support services for those in need and for the most vulnerable in our community,” Ms Chopping said.
“She helped improve the lives of countless people over many years, particularly those who were new arrivals in our country. Despite her health over recent years, Karen continued to serve the community with the same level of energy and passion.
“Karen will be missed, not only by the clients and communities she served, but by her colleagues and those in partner organisations like Consumer Protection who had the privilege to work with her to create programs that assisted, educated and empowered people and achieved outcomes that, in many cases, changed their lives.
“We would like to express our condolences to Karen’s family and many friends.”
Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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