Funding extended for Bendigo and Moorabbin child protection pilots

Funding extended for Bendigo and Moorabbin child protection pilots

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

We are pleased to announce that funding for two community legal centres to deliver legal services aimed at achieving better outcomes for local families with child protection and related family law and other legal problems will continue, following a successful pilot over the past two years.

Under the pilots, lawyers with Women’s Legal Service Victoria and Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre have been helping people in the Family Division of the Children’s Court at Moorabbin and in Bendigo and surrounding regional courts, as well as at the pilot Family Drug Treatment Court.

Eligible clients are provided with advice, representation and referrals on the day they first come to court with a child protection legal problem. Community legal centre lawyers then continue to work with them on related ongoing casework, often involving interrelated family and children’s law issues.

Making a difference – Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre

The funding has enabled the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre to increase its capacity to do child protection work and be better placed to respond to child protection issues.

ARC Justice Executive Officer, Hayley Mansfield commented, ‘Community legal centre lawyers are connected to the communities in which we work and have a thorough knowledge of the service providers and support networks that can help clients. Connecting clients to services and making sure that they remain connected throughout their legal issues is critical to good outcomes.

‘Child Protection work complements our existing service mix which focusses on vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our community, especially women and children. We have an experienced team of Child Protection lawyers at the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre and we are uniquely positioned to successfully deliver child protection and related legal services.  

‘The Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre is delighted to receive ongoing funding from VLA to allow us to continue our established work in this important area’ she said. 

Child protection – Good outcomes and client engagement

Hear Nickie King and Christie George of the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre child protection team present at the National Association of Community Legal Centre conference on 10 August 2017 in Canberra.

Making a difference – Women's Legal Service Victoria

Helen Matthews, Director of Legal and Policy at Women’s Legal Service says, 'Our representation of women in child protection has become an essential part of our response to entrenched disadvantage, relationship breakdown and the impacts of family violence on women and their children.  Importantly, through the child protection pilot, our clients have achieved positive outcomes and have felt well supported and heard along the way.'

'VLA’s continuation of funding for this work allows us to build on the success of the pilot and maintain our focus on providing clients with service continuity and quality legal representation not only in their child protection matters but also across the intersecting family violence and family law jurisdictions.', said Ms Matthews.

Working with community legal centres more

VLA Executive Director Family, Youth and Children’s Law Nicole Rich said: ‘It is terrific to see these community legal centres, which have extensive experience working with disadvantaged people, increase the range of services they offer to their local communities to include child protection.

‘There aren’t enough lawyers to respond to the growing number of child protection cases, particularly in regional Victoria,’ Ms Rich said.

‘So we look forward to working with other community legal centres to look at ways of addressing unmet legal need in regional communities.’

The Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre and Women’s Legal Service Victoria child protection pilots commenced in 2015. A summary evaluation of the pilots will soon be available.   

The continuation of funding is one of 36 actions for change aimed at Victorian children, young people, parents and carers benefitting from services that are more effective, high quality and as widely available as possible.

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

Read the final report

For more information about these actions, download the Child Protection Legal Aid Services Review final report (docx, 7.95 MB) or read Actions from the Child Protection Legal Aid Services Review

Also read:

Why is child protection a focus?