The Environmental Defenders Office is a national community legal centre that fights for a healthy community.

We believe a healthy community requires a healthy democracy. That is why we work to ensure that Government actions are lawful and made transparently. It is why we seek to ensure that peaceful protest laws are understood and applied fairly.

A healthy community shouldn’t struggle under the burden of pollution, day in day out. We ensure that communities have access to legal resources to hold companies to account for the impacts they have on peoples’ livelihoods.   

A healthy community has strong culture. We work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and partner with organisations across the pacific to use the law to protect unique country and culture.

A healthy community has access to justice. We make good on the basic promise that we are all equal before the law by providing access to legal advice and representations for thousands of people across Australia every year in environment and planning matters who otherwise wouldn’t have that access.

Democracy

The functioning of our democracy demands a legal system with integrity. One where the rule of law is sacrosanct, the judiciary is independent and impartial and the system is open and transparent.1

In Australia we are fortunate to have strong legal institutions in our various courts, tribunals and commissions. These forums allow our lawyers to play a crucial role in the healthy functioning of our democratic system. Our work ensures decision makers apply the law faithfully. It ensures that the law is applied correctly. It allows us to gain access to information about how government makes decisions.

A key feature of a democracy, as opposed to authoritarian systems is the concept of the rule of law and as part of that the notion that we are all equal before the law. The Environmental Defenders Office makes good on that promise by affording vulnerable Australians access to lawyers and by helping to maintain an appropriate balance of power between powerful interests who seek to exploit the environment, and those wo seek to protect it.

Healthy Communities

EDO stands up for people’s right for safe, clean communities that are protected from unbearable interference by water pollution, dust, noise, traffic and over-development. 

We level the playing field for people against big corporations and governments who threaten their way of life.

Our team of legal and scientific experts have challenged major mining projects because of noise, dust and other social impacts, empowering local people and community groups to object to inappropriate development and take action when corporations have polluted crucial water sources or taken more than their fair share of water.

Heritage

EDO lawyers use their expertise to protect and conserve our shared heritage.  

We represent Traditional Owners who want to use mainstream laws to defend their cultural heritage all across Australia. Our work has included ur fighting to protect the  takanya/ The Tarkine in Tasmania on behalf of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, our work for the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians to protect significant sites on the footprint of the Shenhua Coal Mine Project and our work to fight for justice for Aboriginal owners in the Gulf of Carpentaria facing the dual threats of the McArthur River Mine and the imminent arrival of the gas industry.  

Education and Outreach

EDO works to empower people with the knowledge and resources to defend their most dearly held places against environmental threats.

Aboriginal Engagement

We use our expertise, professionalism and deep commitment to assist and stand with our Aboriginal clients as they protect and promote their Country, culture and heritage through law.  We provide legal advice and community education on public interest environmental law matters such as culture and heritage protection, environment and biodiversity protection, and planning law. 

Read more about our Aboriginal engagement & cultural heritage work.

Community workshops

We run community workshops and seminars that are tailored to the participant’s needs, and focus on practical outcomes through the law.  We can also invite relevant experts from a range of backgrounds to provide different perspectives on the topic and promote discussion.

CPD seminars

Our professional development seminars focus on our public interest test cases and what they will mean for lawyers, planners and your clients in the future, as well as important updates on environmental, planning and administrative law. As community lawyers specialising in public interest environmental law, we offer insights into the operation of planning and environmental law and help you help your clients to be effective and compliant citizens.

You can claim CPD points for all our professional development seminars. 

Workplace training

We can tailor a professional development program to suit your workplace, offer half and full day options, and travel to you. We’ve worked with local councils and State Government departments around NSW to deliver targeted training to environmental decision-makers and enforcement officers. All funds raised by our professional development program go towards our core work of helping the community protect the environment through law. 

For more information, please contact us

Citizen Representation

The right to peaceful protest and freedom of assembly is a fundamental principle of a liberal democracy, set out in several international human rights treaties.2

EDO’s specialist citizen representation lawyers give people advice and information about the laws that regulate environmental protests.  Our lawyers can also provide representation to those who have been charged with criminal offences at protests. 

Help give people access to justice and the chance to stand up to the powerful forces threatening everything they hold dear.

Donate to our Environmental Defence Fund. Any donation you make today will be doubled by a generous donor.


References

  1. Principles: ruleoflaw.org.au
  2. Right To Freedom of Assembly and Association: ag.gov.au