In December 2022 we presented the inaugural Volunteer of the Year awards. All of our volunteers provide an invaluable service to the Tasmanian community as well as our organisation and without them we would not be able to provide the service we do.
Meredith Barton née Upchurch
The award is dedicated to the memory of Meredith Barton née Upchurch.
After graduating from the University of Tasmania law school as a single mum, she commenced working as a lawyer with the Tenants’ Union of Tasmania in 2006.
In 2011 she became the Tenants’ Union of Tasmania’s Principal Solicitor.
Under her watch our Hobart office grew from two to four lawyers. Meredith was the driving force behind the organisation expanding from our base in Hobart to successfully obtaining additional funding to employ a lawyer in Launceston so that renters in Northern Tasmania could receive the same access to justice as those in Hobart.
As well as improving the Tenants’ Union’s advocacy services, as principal solicitor Meredith oversaw the biggest changes to renter protection in Tasmania since the Residential Tenancy Act was enacted in 1998:
- with minimum standards for rental properties becoming law in 2015; and
- greater protections being enshrined for survivors of family violence in 2018; and
- public housing tenants no longer being evicted without grounds, a fight that went to the Full Court of the Supreme Court twice.
Through all the trials and tribulations of working with us, Meredith remained a calm and reassuring presence. Her door was always open if advice was sought. Meredith did her best to cajole more funding from both State and Federal Government, meeting with politicians from all sides of Parliament and also taking the opportunity to advocate for improved renter protections.
Meredith sadly passed away in 2021 at 43 years young, leaving behind her beloved sons, her husband, her parents, brother and many friends.
The winner of the 2023 Meredith Barton volunteer of the year award was presented to Mark Weaver.
Mark’s enthusiasm, depth of knowledge and ability to go the extra mile saw him announced as the unanimous winner!
We are grateful for everybody who volunteered with us in 2022/23. Without our 2023 volunteers Abe, Amira, Alex, Alvin, Dani, Gary, Gerard, Kate, Louise, Shae and Sharon tenants in Tasmania would have a harder time knowing and advocating for their rights, and at times keeping a roof over their heads.
In 2022 the Meredith Barton Volunteer of the Year Award went to Alex Fry and Nathaniel Lau.
Alex is our longest serving volunteer, he joined the TU in 2006 and has lent his extensive knowledge and calm demeanour to hundreds of tenants in difficult situations over the years.
Nathaniel joined us in May 2021 while studying law. He generously donated his time, passion for social justice and empathetic nature to advise tenants on the phone, conduct face-to-face client interviews and assist us with legal research.
Nathaniel now works as a lawyer. He is also talented photographer, who gifted our office a beautiful picture as a farewell, and photographed our Winter 2023 “For some the Dark is not a celebration” project.