40 years of helping people who need it most

40 years of helping people who need it most

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

An image of VLA CEO Louise Glanville and VLA Board Chair Bill Jaboor standing in front of a VLA banner that says ‘a fair a just society where rights and responsibilities are upheld’. Both Louise and Bill are smiling. There is a 40 year celebratory graphic
Our Board Chair Bill Jaboor and CEO Louise Glanville at our 40th anniversary celebratory event

Victoria Legal Aid knows and understands the importance of the Victorian legal-assistance sector.

This was a key theme highlighted in our recent 40th anniversary celebration, where over 200 people attended a hybrid event online and in-person at our Ballarat office.

In her speech, our CEO Louise Glanville said all parts of the Victorian legal assistance sector were equally important and Victoria Legal Aid could not do the work it does without the assistance from its colleagues and partners.

‘Community legal centres are a foundational part of the legal assistance sector and I note the terrific direct service work they do, the advocacy work they do and the commitment of many local people on boards of community legal centres across Victoria,’ Ms Glanville said.

‘The mixed model we have in Victoria is very reliant on private practitioners – we are committed to working with private practitioners in this partnership, to provide legal services to some of the most vulnerable people in Victoria.

‘I also want to acknowledge our colleagues in Aboriginal controlled organisations, particularly the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and Djirra, and the important work and support that they provide to people in Victoria.

‘The legal assistance sector is fundamental to the work that we do – we couldn’t deliver legal aid without it. I am very grateful for all that our partners and colleagues do to assist us in providing access to justice in Victoria.’ – CEO Louise Glanville

Law Institute of Victoria president, Tania Wolff, said Victoria Legal Aid and its staff are also an important part of the LIV.

‘I take great pride in being part of a profession that works together to meet challenges, and finds solutions, collectively, with all parts of the profession working together to improve the community’s ability to realise fundamental rights in a democracy – access to justice, and equality before the law,’ Ms Wolff said.

‘The work undertaken by Victoria Legal Aid exemplifies the consultation, the collaboration and the commitment that is essential so that the entire profession can come together to help those in need.’ – Law Institute of Victoria president, Tania Wolff

Opening our doors at 179 Queen Street in Melbourne in 1981, we began as the Legal Aid Commission and started with five offices across the state, helping 25,000 Victorians in our first year. We were established to ensure people who could not afford a lawyer would have adequate representation. We now have 15 offices across the state and have evolved to also deliver preventative and early intervention services, non-legal advocacy and play a significant role in law reform and sector-wide improvements to increase access to justice.

Our Board Chair, Bill Jaboor, highlighted the importance of our state-wide presence.

‘Our regional services are so important. We want to ensure that legal aid is available on an equitable basis across the state, that is why we are improving our services for people in outer-metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria though our multi-year Regional Services Program,’ Mr Jaboor said.  

Joining us from Broadford in her electorate of Northern Victoria, the Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes, congratulated Victoria Legal Aid on 40 years of helping those who need it most.

‘Personally, I consider VLA a vital partner for Government and pivotal to ensuring Victorians have access to justice no matter their income or postcode,’ Ms Symes said.

‘I’ve had the opportunity to visit some of the VLA offices and I certainly intend to keep doing so – because it is awesome. Talking to VLA staff makes me really excited about my role as the Attorney-General and the portfolio I am responsible for. Working with people who share the passion and commitment to helping people in the community, especially the most vulnerable, is certainly what gets me out of bed in the morning and talking to VLA staff who are so committed to this work, is fantastic.’

‘Victoria is certainly a fairer and safer place thanks to the efforts of Victoria Legal Aid. I really can't wait to see how VLA will continue to evolve and transform.’ – Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes

Victoria Legal Aid will go into its fifth decade as a forward-looking organisation that is more reflective of the diverse community we serve.

‘We are increasingly becoming an organisation that is centred around the diverse needs of Victorians and putting their voices and experiences at the forefront of what we do, through client storytelling and meaningful input from lived experience advisors,’ Ms Glanville said.

‘I too, as Bill Jaboor noted in his speech, want to thank all Board members – those who are currently on the Board and all previous members – thank you for paving the way and the building blocks you have put in place to create this organisation.

‘I am full of admiration, not only for our staff at Victoria Legal Aid now, but also those that have come before us. You are so important, and you enable everything that we do as an organisation – so thank you for hanging in there, particularly in the difficult circumstances of the last few years. It truly is amazing to see, and I am very proud to call you all my colleagues.’

More information 

Read our CEO Louise Glanville's reflections 40 years of Victoria Legal Aid is a time to recognise the vital role the legal assistance sector plays in championing the unheard in our society.

We have a proud history, read more on our website 'Our history'.

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