New facilities in Shepparton for Victoria’s first specialist family violence court

New facilities in Shepparton for Victoria’s first specialist family violence court

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

A close-up of the building and sign at the Shepparton law courts

The new facilities in Shepparton for Victoria’s first specialist family violence court (SFVC) have opened, marking a new phase in making the justice system safer and more accessible.

We were honoured to attend the official opening of the Shepparton SFVC, where new, separate entrances and exits, registry counters and safe waiting areas are now available for victims of family violence.

‘These new facilities are first-class and put Shepparton at the forefront of the state’s response to family violence,’ said our Shepparton Regional Managing Lawyer, Erica Molyneaux.

At the opening of the Shepparton SFVC, Family Violence Consultant Liana Papoutsis spoke about the difference the new approach would make for people attending court.

‘As a family violence consultant and a woman with lived experience of horrific family violence, nothing makes me more excited, proud and hopeful than when I see concerted efforts being made to tackle what is the number one scourge in our society – that of coercive, controlling and destructive family violence.

‘The specialist family violence reform program is one such significant initiative which engenders hope for victim survivors such as myself,’ Liana said.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence identified that going to court can be a confusing and chaotic experience for people experiencing family violence.

‘The SFVCs aim to reduce this confusion, provide more support to victims and promote accountability by perpetrators,’ said our Associate Director of Family Violence Response, Leanne Sinclair.

The other four SFVCs will be opened over the next year in Ballarat, Moorabbin, Frankston and Heidelberg.

Supporting clients at the new courts

The new SFVC facilities will be accompanied by a new model for delivering family violence legal services, which we are designing with our practice partners, using feedback from clients.

‘Our workshops with partners from community legal centres, the family violence sector, court staff and Victoria Police identified some important key themes,’ Leanne said.

‘It is clear people would benefit from having legal advice and support before and after they attend court, as well as consistent representation at court.

‘We also need to ensure duty lawyers have the training and skills to represent clients across different areas of law, and that family violence organisations can support clients to seek legal help at the earliest opportunity,’ said Leanne.

The legal practice model will be rolled out across the five SFVC sites in the new year.

More information

Read more information about our response to family violence.

Read more about specialist family violence courts.

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