New integrated services to help address family violence start 1 May in Dandenong and Melbourne

New integrated services to help address family violence start 1 May in Dandenong and Melbourne

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A new and integrated service will be available from Monday 1 May for families involved in family law proceedings who are affected by family violence.

The new Family Advocacy and Support Services (FASS) are about providing more than just legal help at the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in Dandenong and Melbourne.

From 1 May at these courts, people who have experienced or are alleged to have used family violence will be able to get legal help from a duty lawyer and further assistance from a social support worker to work through other issues.

This enhanced integrated service recognises that people coming to the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have more than just legal needs. 

Women’s Legal Service Victoria Principal Lawyer Helen Matthews welcomes the pilots, saying ‘Through their work with litigants experiencing family violence and family breakdown, family law legal service lawyers well understand the difficulties for families impacted by family violence - while trying to navigate the complexities of family law.

‘These clients require family violence informed, expert legal assistance but also access to and support from services with expertise in family violence. Ensuring connection with these services can be problematic.

‘Having the services co-located at the court and working in collaboration with the court based duty lawyers will ensure a better response to the overall needs of parties affected by family violence and a better pathway to the resolution of their legal issues,’ Ms Matthews said.

The FASS pilot will run until 30 June 2019.

It has been established by Victoria Legal Aid with funding from the Australian Government as part of a $100 million package to support the Third Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.   

Peninsula Community Legal Centre CEO Jackie Galloway welcomes this Commonwealth funding to enhance our duty lawyer services at the Dandenong Family Law Courts.

‘This two year pilot will enable the Centre’s lawyers to work closely with VLA and the family violence support workers based at the Court to provide integrated services to families affected by family violence.’

About the service

FASS includes legal advice, risk screening, safety-planning, and social support services and referrals to improve victim experiences and victim safety.

People are eligible for support under this service if they:

  • have experienced or are alleged to have used family violence in a relationship, and
  • need legal assistance, information and referrals regarding family law, child protection or family violence intervention orders.

Duty lawyer service

The duty lawyer will provide assistance on a one-off basis, including:

  • legal advice, information and referral in relation to family law, family violence protection orders and child protection matters
  • applying for legal aid
  • Recovery Orders
  • some urgent proceedings.

Social support service

A social worker will help clients engage with the family law process safely, and help with safety planning. The social worker will also connect clients with other services, for example:

  • accommodation
  • financial counselling
  • drug and alcohol support services.

Download the Family Advocacy and Support Services information sheet for clients (docx, 277.87 KB).

How we can help

Find out more about family violence intervention orders and how to get help. You can also find out more about: