Legal help with family violence reaches more women when community legal centres partner with hospitals, royal commission will hear

August 12, 2015 |

In its Wednesday public hearing, the Royal Commission into Family Violence will hear that free legal help with family violence reaches more women when community legal centres partner with hospitals. The commission will hear evidence on Acting on the Warning Signs, a project in which Inner Melbourne Community Legal (IMCL) provides free legal help to women at the Royal Women’s Hospital.

 

‘With free legal advice available onsite at the hospital several times a week, women who may be victims or survivors of family violence don’t have to Google the name of a legal service or tell their difficult story in an unfamiliar new environment. They can get legal help at the same time as their appointment with a clinician at the hospital, and as they receive wrap-around care from other key professionals,’ said Linda Gyorki, Senior Project Manager and Lawyer at IMCL, who will present to the royal commission at 12.15pm.

Dan Stubbs, chief executive officer of IMCL, said the project was crucial because use of health-care services increased with intimate partner violence, and health professionals were the major professional group to whom women disclosed violence, including during pregnancy, a time of high risk for family violence.

‘We know that people turn to legal advisors with their legal needs in about 16 per cent of cases, whereas they consult health and welfare advisors on their legal issues in almost 30 per cent of cases.

‘By enabling health professionals to act as catalysts for a referral to a legal service, the most vulnerable and disenfranchised women in our community can receive free legal help and be made aware of their rights and entitlements without experiencing a referral round-about,’ Mr Stubbs said.

He said increased funding and resources were required in order to further develop this crucial type of service delivery in Victoria.

‘The funding for our partnership with the Royal Women’s Hospital will run out in the middle of 2016. If we have to stop providing this service at the Women’s, a large number of very disenfranchised Victorian women may miss out on receiving much-needed legal assistance,’ he said.

He said family-violence-related legal issues represented a rapidly increasing portion of the casework at IMCL, growing by more than 200 per cent from 2011–12 to 2013–14.

IMCL has Health–Justice Partnerships with three major metropolitan hospitals providing holistic care to clients accessing the hospital sites.

Linda Gyorki will present at the Royal Commission into Family Violence on behalf of IMCL at 12.15pm on Wednesday 12 August 2015, at Level 11, 222 Exhibition Street, Melbourne. Further details are available at the Royal Commission website (www.rcfv.com.au).

 

Media contacts

Linda Gyorki
Senior Project Manager and Lawyer
Inner Melbourne Community Legal
Phone: 9328 1885
(Mobile phone number available to media by contacting 9328 1885)

Daniel Stubbs
CEO
Inner Melbourne Community Legal
Phone: 9328 1885
(Mobile phone: 0437 253 543)