August 27, 2019 | Federation Administration
The Victorian Government has today announced the recipients of $1.8 million of funding for Community Legal Centres and Aboriginal Legal Services to deliver much-needed integrated services within their communities.
This builds on an initial investment of $1.8 million in 2018.
Victorians experiencing hardship and crises in their lives, such as health issues or family breakdown, also face clusters of legal problems that profoundly impact them. This may include debt problems, insecure tenancies, family violence issues or consumer scams.
Nine organisations have received funding to work in partnership with other essential services, such as financial counsellors, hospitals, schools and social supports, to help people with overlapping life and legal challenges at the same time, in the one place.
Legal support and representation empowers people to understand the situation they are in, their rights and responsibilities, and can help resolve the stressful situation.
A community lawyer can assist a person under financial stress have an unfair pay-day loan debt wiped.
With the help of a lawyer, a person facing eviction into homelessness can have an unjust compliance order revoked or an arrears payment scheme negotiated.
A woman experiencing family violence can have legal protections put in place to allow her to escape the violent situation safely and help to clean up the web of financial abuse and debt that the relationship might have caused.
As a community, the best response we can have is to provide wrap around support services, which put the person at the centre of our approach. This is how community and Aboriginal legal services work and make a difference in their communities.
Quotes attributable to the CEO of the Federation of Community Legal Centres, Serina McDuff.
“Life and legal problems overlap, and if not addressed early, or at all, can snowball. When lawyers work in partnership with social workers, health providers or financial counsellors to provide holistic support to people, everyone benefits.”
“This funding will mean people can get the help they need, where they need it, without having to be on a referral merry-go-round.”
“This commitment by the Victorian Government will help us work with even more people, ensuring that they can get help, recover and thrive.”
Successful recipients and project summaries:
- Consumer Action Law Centre
Delivering integrated consumer, credit and debt legal services to Victorian Aboriginal communities in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service which both resolve issues for individuals and ensures that campaign and advocacy attention is given to the systemic issues that are identified as impacting on communities.
- Fitzroy Legal Service
Assist community members in Darebin with legal problems where alcohol and other drug use is an underlying factor.
- Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre
The Policing Family Violence: Changing the Story - providing collaborative legal casework, complaints and advocacy support to survivors of family violence.
- Inner Melbourne Community Legal Centre
Health Justice Partnership with Royal Melbourne Hospital to provide advice, casework, community legal education, strategic policy work and develop a promotional video.
- Law & Advocacy Centre for Women Ltd
Providing pathways out of the justice system for socially and economically disadvantaged women who are in or at risk of entering the criminal justice system.
- Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre - Advocacy and Rights Centre
Health Justice Partnership - integrated legal-health service to clients with complex needs and enabling early intervention support for clients who are at risk of coming in contact with the criminal justice system.
- Seniors Rights Victoria at COTA VIC
Supporting those who have been recently diagnosed with dementia to plan ahead and to make informed choices about their future financial, health or care arrangements, as well as to put those choices into an appropriate legal format.
- Social Security Rights Victoria
Designing, implementing and evaluating an integrated service bringing together social security law specialists and financial counsellors in order to work more effectively and improve client outcomes.
- Springvale Monash Legal Service
Sporting Change: empowering and educating diverse young people to engage constructively in society, by using sport to teach them about the justice system, and increase access to justice through an integrated school lawyer.