New collaboration to benefit victims of family violence

New collaboration to benefit victims of family violence

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Our lawyers have been busy working with inTouch, a centre dedicated to helping women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds who have experienced family violence.

The collaboration will mean that the clients inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence are not able to assist through their legal service will be linked to Victoria Legal Aid lawyers, so that they do not miss out on the legal help they need.

Victoria Legal Aid Family Violence Program Manager Leanne Sinclair sees this close partnership as helping address family violence and crucial to the highly vulnerable clients both organisations assist.

‘Some women who have experienced family violence do not understand our legal system, and do not know where and when to get legal help. They may not be confident enough to seek legal advice or representation through external services like Victoria Legal Aid, but may approach a community service like inTouch,’ said Leanne.

‘inTouch workers can now contact us directly to refer their clients with legal problems, rather than their clients making this connection themselves. Their workers have detailed knowledge of their clients’ problems, which can help us provide a better service.

‘It means we can respond to their legal problems in a more personal way, and with sensitivity to a range of issues that may need support from other services.

‘What we call “warm referrals” are important. We know that CALD women can find it difficult to access services because of their limited English language skills, social isolation, discrimination, and little knowledge about justice and other support systems.’

inTouch provides support and responds to the issues of family violence in more than 20 languages and also runs a specialised in-house legal centre, which is the first of its kind in Australia.

Its long-term goal is to become a multidisciplinary service that can meet clients’ needs under one roof.

inTouch Chief Executive Officer Maya Avdibegovic said commonly clients from CALD backgrounds can fall through the gaps and either don’t know about the help available to them or find it difficult to access mainstream services.

‘The inTouch Legal Centre provides a safety net to catch these clients within the same organisation with which they have already built a relationship of trust.

‘It isn’t able to help everyone, however, so our work together has so far focused on ways we can provide that help.

’There is a real need for collaboration between services and for legal service providers to build on cultural awareness and competency.

Ms Avdibegovic referred to its research report Barriers to the justice system faced by CALD women experiencing family violence.

One of its key recommendations for change was around the need for collaboration between services and more cultural awareness training to legal services.

‘This collaboration is a major step in overcoming barriers for CALD women, and will have a life-long positive impact on our clients who could have otherwise fallen through the gaps,’ said Ms Avdibegovic.

Leanne Sinclair said that inTouch will also provide training to Victoria Legal Aid staff on building cultural competency.

Earlier this year Victoria Legal Aid provided the inTouch Legal Centre with $66,660 in additional funding to provide legal services to female victims of violence in a culturally sensitive, accessible and effective way.

inTouch Legal Centre began seeing clients in January 2013, with funding provided through the Legal Services Board of Victoria major grants round 2012–13.


inTouch and Victoria Legal Aid staff after a training session

Pictured: inTouch Legal Centre staff after a training session about our services and guidelines with Victoria Legal Aid lawyers, including inTouch Chief Executive Officer Maya Avdibegovic (far left), Alla Epelboym (centre) and Leanne Sinclair (third from right).   

More information

For free information about the law and how we can help you see:

or call Legal Help on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday, 8.45 am to 5.15 pm.

See Opening doors: a Vietnamese family violence victim gets the help she needs to find out how we helped a non-English speaking victim of family violence and client of inTouch get her child back.

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