Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families

Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families

Victoria Legal Aid’s Family Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS) offers an opportunity to many Victorian families to make their own decisions about parenting arrangements and related financial issues after separation in a lawyer-assisted, safe and supportive environment. 

Our focus is on children and their best interests, which includes maintaining relationships with significant people in their lives, as well as with their culture. Our service can play a role in supporting families to manage separation issues, through the way we engage with them and through referrals, and help people source legal assistance to negotiate outcomes that are better for children, with decisions made by parents and carers, rather than a judge in court. Early engagement is important – we know that dispute resolution works very effectively at an early intervention stage. 

We acknowledge that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities experience significant disadvantage and can be reluctant to use legal and other perceived ‘government’ services. There are myriad reasons for this reluctance, including historical policies of forced removal of children from families and relocation of communities from country, and the reality that proportionally more people identifying as having Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds are engaged with the criminal and child protection systems. The reality is that these communities are not having their complex legal needs met through existing mainstream service provision.

Our goal is to provide family dispute resolution that is culturally safe and secure for all families. We are building our cultural competence and we know that it will take time and effort to meet our goal. We are pleased to publish this Framework (the ‘VLA Framework for culturally safe FDR for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families’) as one step in that ongoing process.

More information

Download our Framework for providing culturally secure and safe family dispute resolution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients at Victoria Legal Aid Family Dispute Resolution Service (docx, 212.57 KB)

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