June 24, 2020 |
A new report, commissioned by the Federation of Community Legal Centres and funded by the Department of Justice and Community Safety, has shone a spotlight on the impact, effectiveness and opportunities for the future of integrated services in Victoria.
Under an Integrated Services model, various organisations work together with their local Community Legal Centre to better support those Victorians most affected by injustice and discrimination.
The report, Meeting People Where They Are, Delivering Integrated Legal Community Services, found that integrated services required a long-term commitment and sustained resources to ensure successful outcomes for both clients and partner organisations.
Community Legal Centres have been working in integrated service settings with other community organisations for a long time in Victoria. Under the model healthcare providers, schools, financial counsellors and other services work together with Community Legal Centres to identify and address social and legal issues adversely impacting clients. The system provides a more holistic approach to helping Victorians most affected by injustice and discrimination by looking at the underlying issues that might be affecting a person seeking assistance and linking them with the relevant services, particularly legal support.
Ten integrated service projects, funded through the Integrated Services Fund (2018-19) were reviewed for the report to identify the most effective aspects of integrated service delivery and areas that could be improved.
Integrated Services Fund project coordinator, Deborah Lawson said the Federation was particularly interested in the conditions that help or inhibit integrated service delivery to find opportunities to better support partnerships across the sector.
“The report provides invaluable information to help us develop future integrated services and to finesse those that currently operate,” she said.
“We know integrated services provide an effective model for helping people who most need it in our communities’ people who may not know that legal assistance could help address some of the social, financial or other challenges or difficulties they’re experiencing.”
The research project involved five components.
- Consultation with key stakeholders, including: more than 45 representatives involved in integrated service delivery across the state and 12 representatives from government agencies, funders, and peak bodies.
- Desktop review of relevant literature about integrated service delivery and partnership approaches.
- Four descriptive case studies involving visits to the CLC and partner organisations to gain a richer understanding of how the partners work to provide an integrated service.
- Invitation to CLCs across the broader sector to share their perspectives on service approaches through email submissions and/or by completing a partnership survey.
- Production of a short film profiling a client obtaining support from an integrated service, which can be viewed here.
The report is centred around four key themes – partnership platforms, person-centred support, inter-professional respect and understanding, and evidence-informed practice.
It makes a number of important recommendations for government, community service providers, peak bodies and other funders.