We have developed a comprehensive new resource to support lawyers and non-legal staff to provide specialised, trauma informed and culturally appropriate services to family violence duty lawyer clients.
The Specialist Family Violence Legal Services Best Practice Framework outlines the knowledge and skills necessary to give clients the support they need, without reducing their agency in legal proceedings.
‘We know clients have diverse needs which can often lead to them feeling disempowered and confused by the legal process,’ said Leanne Sinclair, Associate Director, Family Violence Response.
‘We have developed this resource to ensure lawyers and non-legal staff understand those needs, and how best to respond to them.’
The framework has been developed in collaboration with the family violence legal services and was informed by people with a lived experience of family violence, as part of our project to support Victoria’s Specialist Family Violence Courts.
The framework includes four key themes, with reading and recommendations of further training to help deliver high-quality, trauma informed and culturally appropriate services. The four themes are:
- safety-aware legal practice
- the nature of family violence
- empowering and collaborative duty lawyer practice
- identifying and responding to co-existing legal issues.
‘We want legal and non-legal staff to be able to recognise and understand the impact of trauma on people who have family violence legal needs, and to be able respond in a non-collusive and culturally appropriate way,’ said Leanne.
‘The framework also equips staff to understand how to recognise and respond to other legal issues clients might be experiencing.
‘Those issues could include migration, tenancy or social security legal issues.’
While the framework has been produced as part of our project to design and deliver legal services at Victoria’s Specialist Family Violence Courts, it is relevant to any legal practitioner providing services to people who have experienced or used family violence.
‘This includes lawyers helping people with criminal charges connected to family violence or lawyers and non-legal staff assisting people with family law or child protection proceedings,’ said Leanne.
‘We anticipate the framework will also be useful for senior staff in mentoring and supervising junior practitioners to build the capacity of the legal profession to provide tailored and high-quality services.’
Request a copy of the framework
The SFVC Legal Services Best Practice Framework is available for community legal centre lawyers and private practitioners.
Reviewed 29 June 2022