Victoria Legal Aid

Welcoming support for our early intervention services

The Victorian State Budget supports our commitment to early intervention services that give people the opportunity to address and prevent legal problems early on.

Tuesday 7 May 2024 9:37pm

We are pleased to see funding through this year’s state budget that will ensure we can continue to provide vital services that support early engagement, and the early resolution of legal problems.

The budget has provided additional funding for Help Before Court (HB4C), and for Independent Family Advocacy and Support (IFAS), our non-legal advocacy service that supports families engaging with the child protection system.

‘At Victoria Legal Aid, we work every day to ensure the community has the information and support they need to effectively deal with legal issues – and critically, before small problems become big problems,’ said CEO Louise Glanville.

‘It is positive to see support in this budget that acknowledges a growing need for legal assistance that works with people and families ahead of time to prevent and de-escalate potential issues.’

Tens of thousands of Victorians have been supported through HB4C since it was set up during the pandemic in late 2020, as the majority of court matters moved online.

It has since proven to be a successful complementary service to the existing ‘at court’ duty lawyer model, giving clients and lawyers more time to consider and understand their matters, and have them dealt with promptly.

HB4C has led to higher client satisfaction, fewer adjournments and better outcomes, like diversions.

We have also had great success with our non-legal assistance services, such as IFAS.

An independent evaluation of IFAS concluded that the service diverted 20 per cent of its clients from child protection court proceedings.

‘Increasingly our legal services are being complemented by non-legal assistance which is why it is heartening to see funding continued for IFAS and its advocates,’ said Louise.

‘Their work is critical in helping families understand their rights and responsibilities when first engaging with child protection and helping them avoid court.’

We also welcome funding to continue drug courts, which help people deal with the issues that bring them into contact with the criminal justice system, meaning they’re less likely to come back.

We are pleased that drug courts will continue to be available to the regional communities of Shepparton and Ballarat, and in the County Court.

Evaluations have shown a 34 per cent lower rate of reoffending.

More information

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Reviewed 07 May 2024