Victoria Legal Aid

Delivering legal services at the Specialist Family Violence Courts

We will be working with clients, our staff, community legal centres, Aboriginal legal services, the courts, police and family violence services to design and deliver legal services at Victoria’s five specialist family violence courts.

Specialist Family Violence Courts - delivering client-centred quality legal services that are easy to access, safe to use and integrated in the family violence system

We will be working with clients, our staff, community legal centres, Aboriginal legal services, the courts, police and family violence services to design and deliver legal services at Victoria’s five specialist family violence courts (SFVC).

To help us give people high-quality legal help that is easy to access, safe to use and integrated within the family violence system, we are implementing a range of initiatives over the next two years, funded by the state government.

A client-centred approach

Clients have told us they find the legal system confusing, and they were uncertain about the court process. To help address this we will:

  • collaborate with people with lived experience to have a say in the way we design, deliver and evaluate our legal services in the SFVC
  • pilot a new role to help people navigate the court and access legal and non-legal services to improve their overall court experience.

Download Our Specialist Family Violence Courts' Client First Approach (docx, 286.04 KB) to learn more about the way people with a lived experience are participating in this project.

Integrating our services with the family violence service system

To give people easier access to legal help when they need it, we need to better integrate legal services within the wider family violence sector. To do this we will:

  • engage with family violence services, police, the courts and community legal centres to help develop our relationships and referral pathways, so clients do not need to retell their story
  • improve relationships to encourage out-of-court negotiations and to help matters resolve earlier.

Our research and workshops consistently showed people need legal assistance before and after attending court, not just on the day. To do this we will:

  • ensure there is easily available information, particularly online, that answers people’s questions about the court process and how to access legal assistance
  • recruit additional lawyers and other roles to help people before and after their court day.

Clients told us that they feel better supported when they have continuity of legal representation and when legal services understand all of their legal needs. To help do this we will:

  • increase lawyer availability and legal representation for all parties, including affected family members (AFMs) in applications brought by the police
  • pilot an additional Aboriginal community engagement officer to support the development and delivery of culturally appropriate services.

Support and resources for lawyers

We know lawyers will need extra support and resources to work in the SFVC. To do this we will:

  • deliver a learning and development program so lawyers can identify and respond to all of a client’s legal needs in a trauma informed way
  • work with culturally specific services to identify the training and resources needed so our legal services are culturally safe environments for people from diverse backgrounds.

SFVC news updates

New training and legal information resources for Specialist Family Violence Courts

New phone line to provide additional support for clients at specialist family violence courts

New Aboriginal community engagement officers strengthen ties with regional communities

Our new information and referral officers take a client-first approach to service delivery

Working systematically to prevent family violence

‘Going to court shouldn’t retraumatise you’ - family violence advocate joins our specialist courts steering committee

Progress on legal services for people going through the specialist family violence courts

Ballarat specialist family violence court to promote safety

New facilities in Shepparton for Victoria’s first specialist family violence court

Using client feedback to design family violence legal services

Specialist courts for a safer community


For more information, contact Associate Director, Family Violence Response, Leanne Sinclair

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

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Reviewed 18 May 2022

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