White Ribbon Day at Victoria Legal Aid

White Ribbon Day at Victoria Legal Aid

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Managing Director Bevan Warner
Managing Director Bevan Warner

Family violence has a profound and ongoing impact across all levels of our community. While there is a growing awareness of the issue, there is still much more to do. Victoria Legal Aid welcomes this increased attention and intends to be a part of the solution.

Initiatives such as White Ribbon Day have directly contributed to this awareness. White Ribbon Day is Australia’s only national, male-led campaign to end men’s violence against women. It recognises the importance of men speaking out against violence against women and I am proud to add my voice to the cause. I was pleased to see one of our family lawyers, Slav Subbotin from our Wimmera office, named as a White Ribbon Ambassador.

Family violence legal services

While increased community awareness is welcomed, family violence has been a focus for our organisation for some time. Family violence impacts all of our practice areas – Civil Law, Family, Youth and Children’s Law and Criminal Law – and our staff regularly deal with these issues.

Like all other agencies in the sector, we are facing an increasing demand on our services.

Victoria Legal Aid is the largest provider of family violence legal services in the state. This impact is even greater when the services provided with our community legal centre partners are taken into account.

We co-ordinate family violence intervention order lists across all Victorian Magistrates’ Courts and in 2013–14, we provided 11,269 clients with 14,796 family violence legal services. Of these services, 48 per cent were provided to applicants for family violence intervention orders with 52 per cent to respondents.

The provision of legal advice is essential to keep victims, mostly women and children, safe. We know that when respondents are given legal advice, they are far less likely to breach an order than if they do not receive any advice. In 2012–13, we found only two per cent of respondents who received legal advice went on to breach their order.

We also refer clients to family violence workers, accommodation services, drug and alcohol counselling and men’s behavioural change programs throughout this process.

Education and prevention

While legal services are an essential part of our role in the community, we also work on education and prevention programs. An excellent example of this is Settled and Safe, which is designed to prevent family violence in new and emerging communities. It aims to help participants become more confident about their legal rights and responsibilities, especially in relation to family law.

While our focus on the prevention of family violence is the right thing to do, it is also a strong and sensible policy for Victoria Legal Aid.

Our research also shows that high contact users of our services are three-times more likely to have experienced family violence or child protection intervention as a child than other clients.

By focusing on prevention, we are aiming to minimise the need these clients have for ongoing use of our services.

More to mark White Ribbon Day

In the White Ribbon Day edition of Legal Aid Brief, you will see many other examples of how we are working to reduce the impact of family violence in our community.

You can read about how family violence has been elevated to one of our strategic advocacy priorities and how we are supporting what Chief Magistrate Peter Lauristen and the Magistrates' Court is doing in the area of family violence.

How we can help

If you have experienced family violence, we have information about:

We also have information about what happens if you have had an application for a family violence intervention order made against you.

Call us on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8.45 am to 5.15 pm, to find out how we can help you.

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