May 16, 2023 | Katie Wand
The Royal Commission was established in 2015 after a number of family violence-related deaths in Victoria, most notably the tragic death of Luke Batty. The Commission made 227 recommendations to reduce the impact of family violence in Victoria, including the establishment of Specialist Family Violence Courts (SFCVs) at all major courts in Victoria.
Specialist Family Violence Courts improve the safety of victim survivors of family violence and strengthen accountability mechanisms for people who use family violence through the court process. On-site legal services at SFVCs play an important role in providing victim-survivors with a more intensive, specialist and therapeutic service, embedding trauma-informed and culturally sensitive approaches to help Victorians who have been affected by family violence.
Five SFVCs were established in 2019/20, with a further seven gazetted at the end of 2022. Although the first five SFVCs received funding for legal services, there was no additional funding for the seven new courts.
The Federation of Community Centres urges the Victorian Government to provide additional resourcing for legal services at the new SFVCs.
We believe that all SFVCs require legal services to deliver an integrated model of justice. Family violence victim-survivors frequently state the confusing and complex nature of navigating the courts as a key deterrent to engagement, and a major barrier to desired outcomes. As such, we see the integration of legal services in SFVCs as a policy priority that would help many more victim-survivors of family violence get justice.