March 02, 2021 | Federation Administration
An outer-suburban community legal centre has responded to local need by extending its services to new areas through co-location and partnerships. They are showing the vital role local CLCs play in our community.
The Brimbank Melton CLC, which is part of CommUnity Plus, has used population and legal trends data to identify where people had been missing out and the areas of legal assistance that were most pressing.
Their response included increasing their presence in Sunshine, Melton and Bacchus Marsh; strengthening their partnerships with local health services; creating a specialist family law practice; expanding programs to support women experiencing family violence; and delivering Vietnamese-language legal support clinics.
Principal Lawyer, Martin Ha, said that their service and local courts were seeing a significant increase in family violence and family law matters following the difficulties of the pandemic and public health lockdowns in 2020.
“These changes will enable us to deliver holistic and end-to-end services in family law and family violence matters. This helps position us as one of the leading community legal services in these areas, promoting better community outcomes and overall wellbeing.
"We are also extremely excited by our partnership with WEstjustice, Barwon Community Legal Service, Women’s Legal Service Victoria, and Victoria Legal Aid to build our collective capacity to deliver high quality, integrated family law services in the western region.”
BMCLC’s family law practice provides legal advice, family mediation, duty lawyer services at local courts and works hand in hand with health and other community services to provide wrap-around support for each client.
“Our skilled lawyers are helping women and children to negotiate a wide range of family law issues to keep themselves safe and to enable the best possible outcomes for each family. We do this together with community-based services to respond to more than just the legal issue in front of us. We are very proud of our collaborative work with Sunshine Hospital (Western Health) and Djerriwarrh Health Services in Melton, operating a Health Justice Partnership."
“That’s one of the biggest strengths of community lawyers: We are passionate about supporting our clients and we have the community networks and expertise to make that happen.”
Other areas of legal assistance include legal support for people experiencing complex mental health issues and/or homelessness, CALD communities, and those faced with serious debt or other financial issues.
Find out more about the Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre at https://www.comm-unityplus.org.au/legal-services/community-legal-centre