Encouraging results in child protection pilot programs

Encouraging results in child protection pilot programs

Monday, 8 January 2018

An evaluation of an ambitious collaboration between Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) and two community legal centres (CLCs) has found priority clients have received more comprehensive legal assistance under the pilot program.

The trials, funded by VLA and implemented by the Women’s Legal Service Victoria in Moorabbin and the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre in Bendigo, were designed to test new ways of helping people with complex child protection and family law needs.

The evaluation said the work of the two CLCs has ‘unequivocally increased representation for VLA priority clients in the Moorabbin and Bendigo region courts,’ and that clients felt they had received ‘a quality service that made them feel respected and listened to’.

In addition to the child protection legal assistance already provided by VLA and approved firms and private practitioners, we wanted to increase the early identification of other legal issues and improve the way the clients were referred to non-legal services.  

The focus was on providing responsive, appropriate and high-quality services in both a metropolitan and regional setting, following someone’s first contact with the child protection system.

The evaluation of the pilot program has found that between October 2015 and February 2017 the two CLCs delivered on their contracted activities and hit many of their service targets.

The CLCs are a new provider in the field and under the pilot they supported over 460 unique clients with child protection related matters through the duty lawyer service, legal advice, ongoing casework and referrals.

The evaluation also showed that the pilot program has been ‘extremely cost effective’ and delivered savings to the Legal Aid Fund, while also building the capacity of each CLC to provide ongoing legal services in a jurisdiction they previously had not been involved in.

The CLCs were also able to use their unique relationships with other community service providers to provide information to clients and the sector, in 33 community legal education, law reform and partnership development activities. 

In line with VLA’s child protection legal aid services review, we have already announced that funding to both CLCs will be ongoing.

We are looking forward to finding the next opportunity to work in partnership with other legal service providers. 

Find out more about the pilot program

Read more about our child protection legal aid services review

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