BROCKOVICH: 'YOU DON'T NEED A DEGREE TO BE HUMAN'
10 February 2015, Written by Jenna Rathbone
HIGH flying legal crusader Erin Brockovich is touring Down Under with one strong message: "it is when all of us come together that we can actually begin to effect change."
The environmental activist, who is known for her relentless pursuit of justice for those who have been wronged, is encouraging all Australians to come together for a common cause and says her rise to become a 20th century icon would not have been possible without the help of others.
"None of this would have happened without other people," says Brockovich, an ambassador for Shine Lawyers.
"Everybody got on the same page for a common cause and it became a labour of love.
"I would be very uncomfortable if I didn't tell you that the real difference is every one of us united for a common goal for humanity, for the safety of each other that is what we do as people."
Brockovich was the impelling force behind the largest medical settlement lawsuit in history which uncovered Pacific Gas and Electric had been poisoning the water system of Hinkley, California, for over 30 years, affecting the health of the population of the small town.
The self-proclaimed 'foot soldier' achieved this despite lack of a formal education in law and says: "I didn't think I needed to have any specific degree to be a human."
"This is your country, this is your family, this is your health, this is your water, this is your planet, and you have a right to it and to fight for it and each other," says Brockovich.
"How do you think laws came to be? Because people, the judicial system, a judge went out on a limb to fight for a person, to fight for a cause, to fight for something that was wrong, to try to balance the system, to try to find a solution.
"Anything that you can do to create campaigns, to create awareness, and not have the goal and the objective to necessarily be like it was in Hinkley - a $333 million settlement - but the objective being doing the right thing and making a difference for everybody.
"People will get on board and, when they do and when we are united, it is awesome and things change."
Brockovich, who is seeking dual citizenship, will visit various locations around Australia and present on a number of topics.
This week Brockovich headed to Oakey to address what is suspected to be ground water pollution developed from near coal seam gas extraction, a process which uses a controversial procedure known as fracking.
"We have a lot of fracking issues in the US - there is a right way to frack and there is a wrong way to frack," says Brockovich.
"If it is done wrong we will have water pollution - we are clearly seeing that now in the US.
"We have had it long enough in the States to realise that there are health impacts and Australia still has a chance to do things right and I hope Australia will learn from the mistakes America has made."
Brockovich adds that she understands that Americans are in favour of fracking jobs which is a result of a poor economy.
"But poisoning people and not being transparent about the process is more than they should have to bear," says Brockovich.
"I want to work on how we can bridge that gap between people and companies. It is really important to understand that people need companies and companies need people, they are what make the socioeconomic system move.
"The judicial system is here if one is not being transparent and not communicating."
Brockovich is also working with Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia to help support survivors of this crime and encourage victims to speak out.
"I have become very aware of women's issues and it's 2015 and our voices aren't as strong as they should be," says Brockovich.
"I think there is something going on where women are fearful, they are being intimidated or they are afraid and they are not talking and it is a society issue. I would like to work with agencies, organisations, the counsellors and Shine on how we can support them in any capacity we can."
Brockovich is also travelling to Townsville to work on the preservation and survival of the Great Barrier Reef.
Shine Lawyers partner Grant Dearlove says it is great to have a "global phenomenon" on the Shine team.
"Erin Brockovich is quite a remarkable human being, a remarkable woman and a remarkable ambassador for consumer rights, not only in the US initially and the work she has done over the last five years in Australia, but now globally," says Dearlove.
"I think Erin's impact is only fully appreciated when you see her descend into communities across the world and work with people who have struggled through no fault of their own."
Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.Connect via: Twitter