It is broadly recognised around Australia that our justice system often struggles to meet the legal needs of women who are experiencing family violence.
For over ten years, Lander & Rogers has undertaken legal work addressing family violence through a range of individual family law matters, victims of crime compensation applications referred by Redfern Legal Centre and Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Legal Service, and through our work with Justice Connect Seniors Law.
In addition to prioritising family law file work to women who are experiencing family violence, we have identified two key areas where we can collaborate with frontline community legal services to make the most impact on unmet legal need:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women; and
- CALD women.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women
We have provided legal services and in-kind support to the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service (FVPLS Victoria) for over six years, also supporting the National Secretariat whilst it has been situated at FVPLS Victoria.
Family violence disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. FVPLS Victoria’s client group are one of the most legally disadvantaged in Australia. 93% of its clients are Aboriginal Women who generally have multiple legal needs and face real barriers to achieving justice.
Our aim in providing FVPLS Victoria with a range of ongoing legal services, covering everything from property to employment law, is to enable the organisation to build capacity and strong foundations which will allow it to assist and support Aboriginal women in Victoria who are experiencing family violence. We were proud to assist FVPLS Victoria with its purchase of new premises in Abbotsford and support their vision to develop a Koori Women’s Hub. We believe that our legal work and ongoing support of the Koori Women’s Hub will help achieve a lasting impact to benefit Aboriginal Women in Victoria, and we hope it will lead to other women’s community hubs being funded and implemented nationally.
We are strong supporters of the InTouch Legal Centre’s unique approach to addressing family violence experienced by CALD women. Drawing on our family and relationship law expertise, we support InTouch’s integrated approach to providing holistic services for CALD victims of family violence. Since 2012, we have worked closely with InTouch’s legal team to support their presence in the Sunshine and Dandenong courts as part of addressing the unmet legal needs of the organisation’s especially vulnerable clients.
We have volunteered to trial a duty lawyer scheme at the Sunshine Magistrates Court, upskilled our lawyers so that they are more culturally aware of the circumstances for CALD clients, and we have made a significant ongoing commitment by accepting referrals of clients that the legal service has no capacity to assist. Most recently, we have supported the establishment of their Health Justice Partnership with Monash Health within Dandenong Hospital.
Where to next?
Through our legal file work over the last ten years, we have become aware of the range of systemic issues in our legal system that compound the difficulty faced by many women experiencing family violence. We are currently developing some strategic responses to the unmet legal need observed.
by Joanna Renkin
Partner – Pro Bono & Community Support
Lander & Rogers