New pilot to close the gap between family violence and family law help for parents and children

New pilot to close the gap between family violence and family law help for parents and children

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) and Hume Riverina Community Legal Service will deliver a new pilot that will offer a continuing legal service from the critical time parents in north-east Victoria first appear at the state Magistrates’ Court seeking help with family violence intervention orders, through to addressing ongoing and often complex family law needs.

The Family Violence to Family Law Continuity of Service Delivery pilot was launched in Wodonga today by Judge Norah Hartnett of the Federal Circuit Court and Magistrate John O’Callaghan.

The pilot fulfils a recommendation of Victoria Legal Aid’s 2014–15 Family Law Legal Aid Services Review, which aimed to ensure that Commonwealth family law legal aid services are fair, sustainable and as widely available as possible.

The review recognised that the state magistrates’ courts are the first point of contact with the legal system for many parents who also need family law help. This provides an opportunity for lawyers to identify family law needs and to help clients earlier so they can better navigate the broader Commonwealth family legal and court system.

Legal issues like property settlement, child support and arrangements for the parenting and care of children are covered by Commonwealth family laws, but applications for family violence intervention orders are heard by the state Magistrates’ Courts.

The Hume Riverina Community Legal Service based at Wodonga will conduct the two-year pilot with a $500,000 grant from VLA.

The pilot will provide continuous legal support for people dealing with a family violence intervention order in a Magistrates’ Court by identifying related matters that the community legal service can also help resolve with family law advice or through representation at the Family Dispute Resolution Service or Commonwealth family law courts.

Quotes attributable to VLA Executive Director Family Youth and Children’s Law Nicole Rich:

‘Accessing legal help can be difficult, particularly for people who have complex legal and personal issues – this pilot will better support families caught up in the legal system and that’s in the best interests of their children.’

‘Working with Hume Riverina Community Legal Service, we will support vulnerable families so they do not fall through the cracks. By streamlining access to family law help and appropriate referrals we will reduce the time it takes to identify and resolve their ongoing family law issues.’

Quotes attributable to Hume Riverina Community Legal Service Principal Lawyer Sarah Rodgers:

‘Hume Riverina Community Legal Service welcomes funding from Victoria Legal Aid for this pilot project. In this region where free legal services are limited and there are high instances of family violence, the project will enable us to provide vital family law services to people experiencing family violence at the time that they need it most.’

How we can help

Find out about applying for family violence intervention orders.

See how to get help with parenting arrangements and child contact.

More information

Other actions recommended by our Family Law Legal Aid Service Review.

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