Funding Boost for Legal Support Services
The Victorian Government has announced a $17.5 million funding package for services delivering legal assistance to Victorians, including victim survivors of family violence, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funding will flow immediately to Victoria Legal Aid and every Community Legal Centre and Aboriginal legal service across the state, increasing their combined power to provide more Victorians with legal advice, representation and support.
The announcement comes at a critical time, with services reporting a spike in family law and family-violence related cases since the onset of the pandemic.
"Right now, victims of family violence are isolated and at serious risk,” said The Federation of Community Legal Centres’ Director of Policy and Engagement, Shorna Moore.
“We know they need our help to obtain an intervention order and make safe arrangements for their children."
In a similar vein, CEO of Victoria Legal Aid Louise Glanville said “we are very concerned that the isolating effect of COVID-19 on our community is increasing the risk of family violence.”
The “funding announcement means that, along with our legal sector partners, we can ensure the community continues to have access to legal information and advice about family violence. Having early access to appropriate legal assistance can help to mitigate the risk,” she added.
Many organisations - including Djirra, Victoria Legal Aid, Women’s Legal Service Victoria and other Community Legal Centres – are still providing legal services during the pandemic.
This includes duty lawyer services at Magistrates Courts across Victoria. Clients seeking an intervention order or safety notice can speak to a duty lawyer by contacting Legal Aid or a Community Legal Centre before or on their court date.
This will ensure that even if not attending court in person, they can still access legal information and advice before their case is heard.
Legal services are also being funded to upgrade their technology to continue delivering services via telephone, digitally and remotely.
The funding has been welcomed just weeks after the Family Courts announced they will triage and fast track all cases involving increased family violence risk.
Enjoyed this article? Head over to the DVRCV blog to read more about The Eastern Community Legal Centre's innovative approach to delivering crucial services to survivors through the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are experiencing violence, require any support, or know someone who does, contact 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Safe Steps (1800 015 188).