Child Protection Legal Aid Services Review key themes of submissions received

Child Protection Legal Aid Services Review key themes of submissions received

We invited submissions on our consultation and options paper, which outlines options to improve child protection legal aid services.

This followed preliminary consultations with over 300 stakeholders in August 2016 on issues affecting the review.

The submissions contained a great deal of useful feedback and suggestions about how our services might be improved.

There was a strong level of support for most of the options in our Child Protection Legal Aid Services Review – Consultation and options paper (docx, 6.2 MB). Not all options were unanimously supported, and some options attracted both support and opposition.

Key themes

The feedback we received in the submissions falls into seven key themes.

Purpose

This looks at clarifying the purpose of our Child Protection Program. There was strong feedback that legal services should be consistent with the overall aim of securing the best interests of children. Legal services have a unique role in supporting the legal process in this objective.

Client-focused services

There was broad support to adopt a client focused service model. This includes a greater focus on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Timely intervention

It was recognised that current legal services focus heavily on legal proceedings. This means that some people miss out on legal assistance, or do not get help when they first need it. This points to a need to consider new forms of service delivery.

Quality and support

The submissions encouraged Victoria Legal Aid to provide greater support to lawyers delivering this important work.

They want to see more training and support, so that lawyers have the necessary skills and tools required to help people involved in the child protection system.

Client access

The need to improve access to our services was a common theme.

Improving processes

These suggestions largely looked at improving timeliness and the structure of duty lawyer services. While many supported processes that reduced delay, some of the suggestions were not supported.

The changing nature of child protection legal services

There was general support for improving the way in which lawyers and social workers engage with each other. However there were different views about how to achieve this.

Next steps

We are in the process of developing recommendations for the Board of Victoria Legal Aid to consider.  

The feedback from the submissions is helping us to formulate these recommendations. We expect to make the strategies and actions endorsed by the Board available in September 2017.

View the snapshot of feedback

For an indication of the range of feedback we received, view the Sway presentation.

More information

If you have any queries about this review, please email childprotectionreview@vla.vic.gov.au or call Child Protection Review Project Officer Siobhan Mansfield – (03) 9269 0298.