We are pleased to be supporting a new pilot project which responds to the needs of communities in Melbourne’s west and beyond to have improved access to high-quality family law services.
As part of the pilot project three generalist community legal centres (CLCs) will establish a comprehensive family law practice, supported by a Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV) capacity building program.
‘This project will build upon the significant experience these CLCs have in helping clients with family violence issues, who often have related family law matters,’ said Peter Noble, Executive Director, Services and Innovation.
‘This project will provide a more seamless experience for those clients who would benefit from ongoing legal representation, including in litigation, for disputes over parenting arrangements or property division.’Peter Noble, Victoria Legal Aid Executive Director, Services and Innovation
There are two streams to the project. Brimbank-Melton Community Legal Centre, WEstjustice and Barwon Community Legal Service will be funded to establish comprehensive family law practices, including litigation, while WLSV will design and deliver a scalable capacity building program.
‘This project has come about by taking a thorough look at the needs of individual communities, the types of incidents that occur, like family violence, and the existing availability of services,’ said Peter Noble, Executive Director, Services and Innovation.
‘The legal needs assessment was conducted in collaboration with WLSV so that evidence-based funding decisions could be made that are sustainable, equitable and, most importantly, designed to build local capacity to meet a community’s needs.’
WEstjustice Legal Director, Annette Au Yeung said they were excited to be involved.
‘In this pilot project, our lawyers and their managers/principals will be upskilled through a tailored mentoring and teaching program led by highly experienced and well-regarded family law specialists at Women’s Legal Service,’ said Annette.
‘There is significant unmet family law legal need in the western suburbs.’
‘We will now have greater capacity to support our clients more holistically through family law disputes – even litigate if all other attempts to resolve disputes have failed. This is a game changer for our clients and a great professional development opportunity for our staff.’Annette Au Yeung, WEstjustice Legal Director
‘This project builds on work already underway by the project partners to address gaps in the provision of family law services in Western Melbourne and the Geelong region,’ said Peter.
While the pilot project will run for two years, a long-term goal is to create a model to build CLC family law capacity across the state in future years.
This project is being supported by National Legal Assistance Partnership funding allocated to the initiative by the State government.
Reviewed 19 April 2022