Victoria Legal Aid

Prioritising help for children in personal safety intervention order matters

Tuesday 21 July 2020 12:00am

We are prioritising the assistance we provide to children, under changes to eligibility for our duty lawyer services and grants of legal assistance for personal safety intervention orders (PSIOs).

‘Children are very vulnerable in any legal proceedings so it is always a serious matter when a child is subject to an application for an intervention order,’ said Nicole Rich, Executive Director, Family, Youth and Children’s Law.

‘The changes to our guidelines for legal assistance will help to ensure that children, both applying for orders and responding to applications, understand the process, and are supported to achieve safe and appropriate outcomes for their individual circumstances.’

‘These changes also give children earlier access to ongoing legal representation, so they don’t have to re-tell their story to different practitioners.’

Several changes to our PSIO duty lawyer services and grants of aid took effect on 1 July 2020.

Children involved in PSIO hearings will continue to be eligible for legal representation at all stages of proceedings, and parties will be encouraged to engage in mediation where appropriate.

‘In our experience, PSIOs are often used to resolve disputes between children in a school or social context,’ said Nicole.

‘Breaking the conditions of a PSIO can have serious consequences for a young person. For this reason, our guideline now directs matters to mediation where possible, so PSIOs are only made in the most serious of circumstances.’

All adults will be able to receive legal information through our new self-help guides for applicants and respondents in PSIO matters.

‘The guides are user-focused and have been developed using best-practice research for self-help information,’ said Nicole.

Adults with a related family violence matter listed on the same day or a cognitive or neurological disability will still be eligible for duty lawyer legal advice or representation in court.

Only adults who meet the ‘special circumstances guidelineExternal Link ’ will be eligible for a grant of legal assistance in PSIO matters. This guideline prioritises people with language or literacy difficulties, or who have an intellectual or psychiatric disability.

These changes will help to ensure we continue to provide legal information and assistance to those who need it most, while maintaining a sustainable financial position.

More information

Read about our self-help guides for personal safety intervention orders.

Read more about our financial sustainability strategy.

Reviewed 01 June 2022