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© 2019 Community Impact Foundation (ABN 43 260 612 561)

The trustee for Community Impact Foundation is Australian Impact Investments Pty Ltd (ABN 81 165 905 582) –

Corporate Authorised Representative (No. 464365) of Ethinvest Pty Ltd (AFSL No. 223718)

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  • Lisa Elliott

Grata Fund

Contact Name Isabelle Reinecke, Executive Director & Founder Email isabelle@gratafund.org.au Address Grata Fund, UNSW Law, UNSW Sydney Phone Number 0408288092

Charity website www.gratafund.org.au DGR Registration Link http://www.abr.business.gov.au/ABN/View/16605441638 ACNC Page Link https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity/78f6128e746192fa473e37231f80746f

Overview of Organisation Grata Fund is a new Australian initiative that is pushing the frontiers of our legal system to protect human rights, the environment and our democracy.


Based at the University of New South Wales Law Faculty, Grata is taking on the strategic litigation gap in Australia’s democracy by developing and financing circuit breaking cases to help shape the society we want to live in - one that respects and upholds human rights and democracy.


We do this by:


  1. Incubating innovative strategic litigation and supporting strategic litigation developed across the legal sector;

  2. Removing the critical financial barriers to public interest litigation in Australia; and

  3. Building campaign alliances around the cases we support to ensure cases create lasting change by winning both inside and outside the courtroom.


Since launching in 2016, we have supported a range of litigation protecting and advancing democratic freedoms, human rights and the environment including:

  • Doctors4Refugees, represented by Fitzroy Legal Service, to successfully challenge draconian gag laws in the Border Force Act, which criminalised doctors with 2 years in jail for speaking out about abuse they were witnessing against 1200 asylum seekers in Australian offshore detention centres.

  • Disability advocates Graeme Innes AM and Nadia Mattazzio, represented by Public Interest Advocacy Centre, to sue CommBank for discrimination against the blind community.

  • Mum-and-dad shareholders Guy and Kim Abrahrams, represented by Environmental Justice Australia, to sue CommBank for failing to treat climate change as a material risk.

  • Young mum Jasmine Cavanagh and 70 households from her remote Aboriginal Community in the Northern Territory, represented by Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights, to secure over 600 urgent repairs to their Government-controlled housing and receive compensation for being forced to live in ‘uninhabitable’ housing for years.


Grata Fund's Patron is eminent anti-corruption leader Tony Fitzgerald AC QC and Grata Fund's board includes former Justice of the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal The Hon. Marcia Neave, barrister Dr Peter Cashman, international human rights barrister Jennifer Robinson, company director and philanthropist Deanne Weir, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service EO Roxanne Moore, former Blake Dawson (now Ashurst) Partner Michael Eyers and Grata founder Isabelle Reinecke. Grata Fund also has an advisory council made up of leading Australian legal academics (including George Williams AO), public interest lawyers (including PIAC, EDO NSW, EJA, and HRLC) and campaigners (Greenpeace, GetUp, Amnesty International Australia).

Describe the project that requires funding: BACKGROUND

The climate crisis is well and truly upon us. As many of us know, Australia will be directly affected by the climate emergency more than any other developed country, yet Australia has been ranked “worst in the world” on climate action.


Australians have among the highest per capita emissions of any population in the world. Australians have a carbon footprint that is fifteen times higher than the per capita footprint in India; three times higher than in the UK; and even higher than the carbon footprints of Americans and Canadians.


Australian communities are already suffering the impacts of the climate emergency, from farmers in NSW and Victoria, to First Nations people in the top end, to tourism operators in the Great Barrier Reef. The fate of these communities will rapidly worsen if greenhouse gas emissions do not decline to net zero within the next 30 years. Many Australians are demanding action.


Despite this, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have been rising for the past four years and we are not on track to meet our weak 2030 emissions reduction target. If the world followed Australia’s approach we would be on track for at least 3-4°C of global warming, with catastrophic consequences for people and communities in Australia, the region, and the world.4


Facing political inertia in Australia, several communities from across Australia have been driven to seek accountability through the courts. Grata is working with these communities to support them to file an action against the Commonwealth Government, represented pro bono by legal team Phi Finney McDonald, several of Australia’s finest barristers and climate litigation experts Urgenda and Climate Litigation Network.

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PLAN This project will be executed in three phases:


Phase 1: Pre-Trial preparation and launch


As the legal team continues to prepare the case for trial, we will work to build a coalition to maximise the impact of the case beyond the courtroom and to build the capacity of plaintiffs and other affected communities to play an active leadership and public role in the case.


1. Coalition Building: We will build a well resourced and representative coalition of illustrative and persuasive demographic groups of Australians who support the aims of the case. For example: doctors, grandparents, farmers, school kids, environmental legal and advocacy groups.


This approach will require significant collaboration and resourcing from partner organisations through secondments or funding to set up a short term campaign coalition for the period of the case (using a similar structure that was used in the marriage equality postal vote campaign).


This coalition will have an inner circle that will function as a steering committee with representatives from affected communities and organisations that are strategic and/or committing significant resources to the campaign.


The second layer of the coalition will be made up of groups who want to support the case but are unable to provide the level of investment required. These groups will sit on subcommittees for the demographic pillars of the campaign.


2. Capacity Building: We will ensure the voices and wishes of communities directly affected by climate change are centred in strategy, decision making and public messaging.


We will also build capacity and provide support to ensure affected communities play both public and leadership roles in the case and the campaign.


3. Financing: We will mobilise the funds required to enable communities to be heard in court, including disbursement fees and adverse cost protection, and by securing pro bono and/or contingent fee based legal representation.


4. Launch: We will work with plaintiffs, affected communities, the legal team and the case coalition to create a high profile case launch that will generate support for the case, highlight lived experiences in Australia of the climate emergency, and increase pressure on the Commonwealth Government to protect Australians from the impacts of the climate emergency.


Phase 2: Court trial


1. Legal Strategy: Plaintiffs will seek an enforceable injunction from the court that orders the Commonwealth to meet its legal obligation to prevent foreseeable harm associated with climate change to the relevant communities.


2. Campaign Strategy: We will support plaintiffs and the case coalition to leverage the media attention of the trial to build pressure outside of court for meaningful action to protect Australian communities from climate change.


Phase 3: Post-decision


1. Mobilisation and long term impact: We will work with plaintiffs and the case coalition to coordinate and implement a mobilisation and impact strategy, supporting advocacy organisations to amplify the impact of the case throughout their work.

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IMPACT:


1. Challenging power in court

If communities are successful in court, the court will make an order that effectively requires the Government to limit emissions to the degree needed to avert harm to those communities.


2. Building power in the community


If communities are successful in the court of public opinion:

- Australians will understand that the climate emergency is already impacting Australian communities in a severe way and without action it will only get worse.

- The Government will face intense, fact-driven public pressure to act to prevent further climate change induced harm to Australian communities, that we hope will result in Government action to limit emissions to the degree needed to avert harm to those communities.

Please describe any collaboration you have had with other organisations in relation to this project: Phi Finney McDonald are the legal team on this case. We will work with EDO as a key legal advocacy partner, and are partnering on the campaign side with a group of climate organisations including Greenpeace, AYCC, SEED, Farmers for Climate Action and Australian Conservation Foundation.

Funds requested from Pool of Dreams sub-fund: We are seeking to pledges for all 3 phases of funding: $162,912 for Phase 1 (pre-trial), $170,400 for Phase 2 (trial), and $126,100 for Phase 3 (post-trial). Phase 1 funds will be called upon once final favourable prospects have been secured. Phase 2 funds will be called upon once the case files. Phase 3 will be called upon towards the end of Phase 2.

Other sources of funding In kind donations (pro bono): solicitors, counsel, expert witnesses, organiser, message testing worth ~$4.3M Private donors: approx $425k Climate Litigation Network (Urgenda) donors: approx $140k Please see attached budget for further details.

When would this project be expected to start? Phase 1: October 2019 - April 2020 (pre-trial prep) Phase 2: April 2020 - April 2022 (trial) Phase 3: April 2022 - April 2023 (post-trial enforcement)

When would you anticipate this project to be completed? We expect the case to conclude in early - mid 2022. Appeals may then be launched, but any decision will be enforceable from the date of judgement regardless.

Please click here to view the proposal