Legal aid addressing local challenges in Barwon region

Legal aid addressing local challenges in Barwon region

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Local legal needs, challenges facing the Barwon region and possible responses were discussed when our Board recently met with stakeholders in Geelong.

The Board met with stakeholders from the local Magistrates’ Court, Victoria Police, Salvation Army and Barwon Community Legal Centre.

Our Geelong office managing lawyer Pat Tainton outlined the challenges facing the region. These include population increases, employment uncertainty, an ageing population and the DisabilityCare (formerly the National Disability Insurance Scheme) trial due to start in July. The trial will assess the needs of more than 5000 people with a disability and their families and carers.

Our Geelong office is addressing these challenges in a range of ways, including by:

  • strengthening partnerships with other organisations working locally, promoting relevant services and increasing community legal education to resolve potential problems before they escalate and require intensive legal services
  • providing an outreach service which offers civil law advice on issues such as social security appeals, guardianship and administration issues
  • participating in planning for the DisabilityCare trial, so clients and service providers are briefed on the legal options available to trial participants.

Pat said the Greater Geelong area is undergoing testing economic times.

‘Corio and Norlane have unemployment rates of 10.3 per cent and 15.2 per cent respectively, substantially more than the recent national unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent.

‘One-parent families (17.3 per cent) are also higher than the Victorian figures (15.5 per cent) and 24.8 per cent of the local population comprise low-income households (earning less than $600 per week), compared with 19.2 per cent for greater Melbourne.

‘We will continue to work with the local community to ensure we provide quality legal services to those most in need and pursue innovative ways to reduce the prevalence of legal problems,’ Pat said.

More information

For more information about these initiatives or the services our Geelong office provides, call (03) 5226 5666 or toll free 1800 196 200.

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