Royal Commission into Family Violence hears about the vital role of duty lawyer services

Royal Commission into Family Violence hears about the vital role of duty lawyer services

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Providing duty lawyer services at court can help keep victims safe and make perpetrators accountable, our Family Violence Program Manager Leanne Sinclair has told the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Leanne appeared on a panel alongside Senior Lawyer from the Loddon Campaspe Legal Centre Chris Casey on day 12 of the commission’s public hearings, which investigated the family violence intervention application process.

Leanne said tailoring an intervention order was critical for ensuring it was understood and complied with.

She said if respondents understood what the order said, what they could and could not do and how they might be able to negotiate children’s matters into the future, they were more likely to comply and this made victims safer.

Asked for her views on proposals for allowing orders to be varied or finalised without court involvement, Leanne said the system should not put efficiency ahead of effectiveness.

She said the result may be that respondents are given orders which they don’t understand and went on to breach, escalating violence and trauma for the victim.

She said legal advice helped ensure respondents understood the criminal repercussions of breaching an order. It allowed people to be referred to drug, alcohol and other counselling services, and allowed people who didn’t speak English to access interpreters.

‘There’s a missed opportunity for that respondent to be visible, to be made accountable and to go before the court,’ she said. ‘It’s when the respondent has this awareness that we are able to promote safer outcomes for applicants.’

Read the transcript

Full transcripts of all the proceedings are available on the Royal Commission's website. The transcript of Leanne Sinclair and Chris Casey's appearance on 4 August begins at page 1759.

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