By -

On 1 July, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), a renowned legal and policy centre that has advocated for social justice for more than 40 years, will become the Justice and Equity Centre.

Sera Mirzabegian SC, PIAC Chair, says the new name reflects the organisation’s mission to build a fairer, stronger society by challenging laws and practices that cause disadvantage and inequality.

“We are building on more than 40 years of history. PIAC is renowned and respected for its expertise, tenacity and heart. We are proud to be continuing that legacy with a new name and a renewed commitment to our purpose,” Mirzabegian says.

While the name is changing, the Justice and Equity Centre will continue its crucial work in five key areas: disability rights, civil rights, First Nations justice, homelessness, and energy and water justice.

It’s an exciting new chapter for the organisation which builds on a story that began in 1982. Launched by then NSW Attorney General Frank Walker QC, PIAC quickly made its mark by representing Arthur Austin in a landmark case against the City of Sydney over retrospective electricity price hikes. The case led to legislative changes preventing such increases.

Over the decades, PIAC has championed numerous cases, many of which have had significant lasting impacts on Australian society. These include successfully challenging sex discrimination at the Port Kembla Steelworks, advocating for former patients of the Chelmsford ‘deep sleep’ therapy, securing justice for women injured by faulty contraceptive the Dalkon Shield, and representing First Nations families following deaths in custody.

PIAC has also been a leading advocate for disability rights, taking on organisations like SOCOG (Sydney 2000 Olympic Games committee) and Rail Corp NSW to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities.

Jonathon Hunyor, CEO of PIAC, says the organisation has been at the “forefront of the fight for social justice for over four decades” and is proud to pay tribute to the many people who have contributed to its success.

“Our centre has a long and proud history of making practical improvements in the lives of people facing disadvantage. We remain focused on bringing our strategic legal and policy expertise to partnerships that protect human rights and deliver social justice,” Hunyor says.

The centre is currently involved in several high-profile cases, including representing mothers in a trespass claim against NSW Police, taking on Qantas over its assistance animal policy, and challenging the NDIS age cap at the UN. The Justice and Equity Centre also provides essential legal aid to homeless individuals through its Homeless Persons’ Legal Service.

Beyond legal action, the centre is a prominent voice advocating for modernising discrimination laws, raising the age of criminal responsibility in NSW, and ensuring equitable energy transition. It also partners with First Nations organisations to reform the child protection system and support truth-telling initiatives.

The centre says this legacy of impactful legal and policy work will continue under the new banner as the organisation strives to build a fairer, more equitable society for all Australians.

“We look forward to the next 40 years of working for social justice as the Justice and Equity Centre,” Hunyor says.