Action on child protection legal services coming to regional Victoria

Action on child protection legal services coming to regional Victoria

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Boosting support in regional Victoria for child protection legal services

We have today released actions for change that we hope will benefit regional Victorian children, young people, parents and carers who are involved in the child protection system.

The 36 actions follow an extensive review of child protection legal services and consultation with others who work in child protection, and with young people, parents and carers.

Executive Director Family, Youth and Children’s Law Nicole Rich said: ‘We will boost support in regional Victoria by establishing regional child protection networks, and looking at how we can increase the number of lawyers doing child protection work.

‘The need to do things differently is particularly acute in regional Victoria. Around a quarter of Victorian children live in the regions but they account for almost half of all new child protection applications to the court. Regional Victorian children are also twice more likely to be in out-of-home care,’ Ms Rich said.

‘The number of child protection cases in regional areas has been growing, but there aren’t enough lawyers, particularly in places like Horsham, Warrnambool, East Gippsland and Mildura.

‘Many actions we have committed to are about redesigning the way we do things so that all Victorians get the same access to child protection legal help.

‘Our current pilot with the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre is a great example of how we can increase legal help with immediate child protection needs in regional areas, while helping also with other issues that can undermine a family’s ability to adequately care for their children.

‘We are pleased to say that funding for this pilot will now continue. And we will be looking at expanding the help that other community legal centres can provide with child protection in other locations,’ Ms Rich said.

Other actions for change we have committed to include working with others to:

  • pilot a health justice partnership so that pregnant women who are at risk of having their child removed from them shortly after birth get early legal advice and representation
  • provide more support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. This includes new funding for legal help so that siblings and parents of an Aboriginal child placed in out-of-home care can maintain contact with that child, and more funding for the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service
  • trial an early intervention unit involving non-legal advocates who will provide clearer information, help achieve better outcomes and help reduce the number of cases going to the Children’s Court of Victoria
  • develop plain-language information about the child protection system and legal rights and responsibilities for different groups including young people, parents and carers
  • produce clear best practice guidelines on legally representing children and young people.  

Read the final report

Download the Child Protection Legal Aid Services Review final report (docx, 7.95 MB)

You can also find out more at:

How we can help 

Find out more about child protection and how you can get help.