Legal assistance

Improving legal assistance access, representation and integration across the family violence system

We are working to improve early access to legal assistance and representation for people affected by family violence, as well as those who use violence.

One of the ways we are doing this is by integrating legal services across statewide family violence services, such as The Orange Door network.

This supports victim survivors to understand their legal options and make informed decisions about their family and safety needs. It also helps perpetrators understand police and court processes and meet any obligations associated with court outcomes.

Key activity in 2022

  • The Pre-Court Engagement and Resolution Program was expanded to seven Magistrates’ Court locations following a successful pilot in Frankston. This program proactively engages people prior to their court hearing so that they are better prepared and able to understand and participate in the court process. The program is now operating in Broadmeadows, Dandenong, Latrobe Valley, Melbourne, Ringwood, Sunshine and Werribee.
  • Through the Specialist Family Violence Legal Practice Model, resources were developed in consultation with people with lived experience and justice sector partners, to improve referrals to family violence legal and non-legal services before court.
  • Djirra enhanced its Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service. across metropolitan Melbourne. It also opened four new regional offices in Morwell, Echuca, Bendigo and Ballarat, bringing the total number of regional offices to seven. This service supports Aboriginal people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence. It also assists people experiencing family violence who are parents of Aboriginal children.
  • Pre-separation legal information is now available on the Victorian Legal Aid website, providing free, easily accessible information to support victim survivors to understand their rights before leaving a relationship. Victorian Legal Aid also launched the Screening, Triage and Referral Tool to identify an individuals’ legal needs and direct to relevant legal information and referrals.
  • Women’s Legal Service Victoria continued to deliver the Safer Families program to Community Legal Centres. This professional development program supports community legal centre lawyers to provide high-quality, effective advice and representation to clients experiencing family violence.