Our family law guidelines have been redrafted – tell us what you think

Our family law guidelines have been redrafted – tell us what you think

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Clearer guidelines are needed for lawyers to have confidence in advising a client whether or not their case is eligible for legal aid, according to Family Youth and Children’s Law Executive Director Nicole Rich.

‘We’ve listened to lawyers who apply the guidelines and appreciate the frustration that they feel in trying to advise clients against an increasingly complex backdrop,’ she said.

Your help needed to get it right

The redrafted guidelines can be accessed online and are easy to navigate, with the ability to click from one guideline to the next, and also share thoughts on the proposed structure and its functionality.

Completion of a short survey will ensure valuable feedback informs the final approach.

We worked with an advisory group of practitioners from private practice and community legal centres, together with our in-house lawyers, to review the current guidelines and prepare this first draft.

‘I want to thank those on the advisory group for their substantial contribution and now invite lawyers, service providers and others working with the guidelines to have their say so we can ensure the guidelines are as clear and user-friendly as possible,’ Nicole said.

‘It’s important for us to hear what you like about the changes, and what needs further improvement.’

An easier reference for assessing eligibility

While the eligibility criteria have not been changed, there is an expectation that guidelines that are easier to interpret could help improve access to family law services, Nicole noted.

‘Confusion about how the guidelines apply to family law matters creates uncertainty for practitioners and their clients,’ she said.

‘Getting this right is important for lawyers and service providers, who are the ones having conversations with people looking for help. We want to make it easier to provide legal assistance to families under stress from unresolved issues, or to refer them to the services they need.’

Part of a wider review of family law services

Redrafting the guidelines was one of 35 recommendations from our Family Law Legal Aid Services Review which last year looked at the growing complexity of our family law services and grant guidelines that evolved as a response to changes in funding levels, legislation and court processes.

The recommendations aim to support better access to quality family law services, timely intervention and the early identification of people requiring intensive support.

How to have your say

The redrafted guidelines are now available online. To access, you can login to the website with the following details:

  • User name: guest
  • Password: vla2016

You will be able to access the redrafted guidelines for two weeks from 26 October to 9 November.

To provide feedback complete our online survey.

Next steps

Feedback we receive will be incorporated into a final redraft, with the new guidelines supported by tools such as checklists and flow charts, clearer information about fees payable and redrafted notes to assist in interpretation.

Training in the use of the guidelines will be provided across the state, and will precede an expected rollout in mid-2017.

Contact

Contact the Project Manager, Catherine Caruana at Catherine.caruana@vla.vic.gov.au or on (03) 9269 0371 if you have difficulties logging in, or for further information.

More information

Find out more about our Family Law Legal Aid Services Review.