Victoria Legal Aid

New family violence supports go regional

Our expanded Family Advocacy and Support Services will kick off from October, improving access across regional Victoria.

Thursday 29 September 2022 5:57am

More Victorians will have access to wraparound supports to help them deal with family law issues with the launch of the expanded Family Advocacy and Support Services (FASS) in October.

The FASS expansion formally commences from Monday 3 October, when the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) sits in Melbourne, Dandenong and Warrnambool.

It will be the first time FASS services have been made available outside of greater Melbourne and will continue to roll out during circuit sittings in the coming weeks at:

  • Geelong on Monday 17 October
  • Shepparton and Mildura on Monday 14 November
  • Morwell and Bendigo on Monday 21 November
  • Ballarat on Monday 5 December.

FASS has been operating out of the FCFCOA registries in Melbourne and Dandenong since 2017, providing legal and non-legal supports, including linking clients with housing services, financial counselling and drug and alcohol services, to those impacted by family violence.

Under the new expansion, FASS will be available at all seven FCFCOA circuit locations across regional Victoria.

Mental health supports will also be included as part of FASS for the first time.

Assistance from FASS is not means tested, and FASS family violence and mental health support workers can assist clients even if they already have a lawyer.

‘We know from experience that when people reach out for legal support, they are often experiencing a range of other issues, like housing, financial or mental health issues, and that is a vital window for us to provide help,’ said Sophie Meehan, Manager, Family Law Projects.

‘This expansion across regional Victoria is a clear sign that the FASS model is working – and means we can support more families dealing with separation, both in and out of court.’

It follows the Australian Government’s allocation of $85 million over three years to expand the national FASS program in last year’s budget.

Adding mental health supports

The national FASS expansion bolsters access to FASS, establishing 26 new FASS locations, including seven in regional Victoria.

It is designed to increase access to justice and address the often complex needs of those impacted by family violence who are engaged in the family law system.

The addition of mental health supports recognises that family violence rarely occurs in isolation from other issues, and that dealing with family law proceedings can be an incredibly stressful experience.

One of several new partners, Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV) will provide mental health supports at all Victorian locations.

‘We know that early intervention and wraparound specialist services like the ones we deliver have a considerable positive impact on mental health, addressing suicidal ideation and promoting safe and healthy relationships,’ RAV chief executive Dr Andrew Bickerdike said.

‘We are so pleased to be part of a program that will make reaching out for help that much easier for those impacted by family violence.’

FASS is delivered nationwide by the eight state and territory legal aid commissions.

New partnerships and old

In August, we announced the new and renewed partnershipsExternal Link that will support the rollout of the expanded program, which includes Relationships Australia Victoria and also:

  • Bethany Community Support Inc – Geelong & Warrnambool
  • Centre for Non-Violence (in partnership with Primary Care Connect and WRISC) – Bendigo, Ballarat & Shepparton
  • Mallee Sexual Assault Unit Inc. Mallee Domestic Violence Service – Mildura
  • Quantum Support Services – Morwell

These organisations will provide FASS family violence support services for female and gender-diverse clients at FCFCOA circuit locations.

No To Violence will provide FASS family violence support services for male clients at all FCFCOA circuit locations and permanent registries.

Additionally in Victoria:

  • Duty lawyer services will be provided by Victoria Legal Aid and the following community legal services at FCFCOA circuit locations:
    • Barwon Community Legal Service – Geelong & Warrnambool
    • ARC Justice (in partnership with Ballarat & Grampians Community Legal Service) – Bendigo, Ballarat & Shepparton
    • Mallee Family Care Ltd Community Legal Service – Mildura
    • Anglicare Victoria Gippsland Community Legal Service – Morwell.

At the Melbourne and Dandenong permanent registries of the FCFCOA, we will continue to partner with the following organisations as part of the FASS program:

  • No To Violence
  • Safe Steps
  • Peninsula Community Legal Centre
  • South-East Monash Legal Service.

More information

Read more about FASSExternal Link .

If you want to make a referral, please call (03) 8610 9803.

If you have a question about FASS or the FASS Expansion Project, please email

Reviewed 29 September 2022