New integrated family law court services coming to Dandenong and Melbourne

New integrated family law court services coming to Dandenong and Melbourne

Monday, 21 November 2016

A new service involving family violence support workers working alongside lawyers will be delivered through the Family Law Courts in Dandenong and Melbourne from 2017, as part of a package of funding made available by the Commonwealth government.  

Executive Director Family, Youth and Children’s Law Nicole Rich said that Victoria Legal Aid was very pleased that the new service will include family violence support workers as well as more capacity for specialist lawyers.

Building on existing duty lawyer services provided by Victoria Legal Aid and community legal centre lawyers, the service will, through new legal and non-legal supports, provide:

  • legal assistance to both victims and perpetrators of family violence
  • family violence risk screening and safety-planning services
  • social support services and referrals.

‘Providing a more integrated service will help people navigating a complicated system at a stressful time to get legal help earlier as well as get access to social services and referrals from support workers co-located at the court,’ Ms Rich said.

‘Through the new service we will work with others to improve victim experiences and safety and perpetrator accountability, and assist the court to make safe decisions for the children at the centre of family law disputes.’

Legal help provided by the new service will include, for example:

  • drafting notices of risk and supporting materials
  • gathering important information and evidence about family violence by issuing subpoenas or applications for expert reports
  • drafting urgent applications for recovery or airport watch list orders
  • drafting applications for the use of existing legislative provisions to protect vulnerable witnesses or limit access to sensitive information.

Ms Rich said ‘We are working quickly to plan the delivery of this new service and expect to announce further details in early 2017.’  

Victoria Legal Aid will receive $3.226m to fund this service for three years, until 30 June 2019.

This funding is made available through the Commonwealth government as part of its third action plan under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022.

More information

Read the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s announcement Third action plan to reduce family violence, 28 October 2016.

Read National Legal Aid’s response to the announcement How new funding helps victims, helps kids, helps courts, 28 October 2016.

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