Below is an overview of the priority area to support you in giving your feedback, followed by a set of questions related to the information we have provided.

This package of information highlights what government has done so far, and what it intends to do over the coming three years, to increase access to legal assistance:

  • Priority area overview summarises what government is doing and shows how legal assistance activities support the achievement of the Family Violence Outcomes Framework (FVOF) as we continue to implement Royal Commission recommendations
  • Achievements since 2016 showcases key achievements during RAP1
  • Rolling action plan 2020–2023 sets out the activities government proposes to deliver over the next three years
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts reflects on how coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted legal assistance initiatives
  • Reform principles shows how the three reform principles (Aboriginal self-determination, lived experience and intersectionality) have been considered in planning legal assistance activities and reform.

NOTE: An accessible word version and high resolution PDF of this information is also available to view and download below.

The Royal Commission found that unequal access to legal assistance was facilitating perpetrators to continue to abuse and exert control over victim survivors. It has commonly forced victim survivors to deplete their financial resources to access legal representation. Activities under this priority are intended to address that inequity.

How we are improving legal assistance and representation across the justice system


The Family Violence Outcomes Framework (FVOF)

The FVOF articulates the government's vision to end family violence; the four domains reflect the long term outcomes sought through the collective efforts of the reform. The domains represent the key priorities in preventing and responding to family violence and clarifying what constitutes success.

Activities in this priority area will likely have the greatest impact in achieving outcomes against the following highlighted FVOF domains:

Royal Commission into Family Violence (RCFV)

With more than two-thirds of the Family Violence Royal Commission recommendations now implemented, delivery of activities under this priority over the next three years will continue to support recommendation implementation. Updates will continue to be provided via the vic.gov.au website.

Service delivery

We have improved linkages and referral pathways:

  • quicker and more streamlined access to legal assistance through strengthened relationships between The Orange Door, specialist family violence services and legal services.

Legal advice

We have increased access to legal support services:

  • additional Victorian Legal Aid (VLA) grants provided for legal assistance, particularly for more complex legal matters
  • more than 33 percent increase recorded by VLA in family violence duty lawyer services for family violence and Child Protection matters between 2017 and 2019
  • $49.9 million initial investment into family violence-related legal assistance in the 2017-2018 State Budget
  • 37 Community Legal Centres received grants for family violence duty lawyer and general family violence-related legal assistance
  • Legal Help phone line enhancements have enabled extended hours of operation and dedicated responses to family violence related issues.

Training

We are building a specialist workforce:
  • Specialist Family Violence Court (SFVC) Legal Practice model established
  • training for legal professionals continues to be updated to reflect best-practice risk assessment guidance using the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework
  • working with the Commonwealth Government to increase family violence competency for legal assistance.

Aboriginal justice

We are ensuring there is a specific focus on Aboriginal Justice:

  • expansion of Djirra’s legal services to five new locations across Victoria
  • 2410 assistance packages provided by Djirra’s Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service in 2018 – 2019
  • 581 clients serviced by the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service across Victoria in 2017 – 2018 and 2018 – 2019.

Proposed activities

NB: Timeline milestones have been included where applicable; text in panels indicate an ongoing and/or non date specific activity

Service delivery adaptation, learnings and innovations during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted service delivery across the family violence reform. The most significant impact for the legal assistance priority has been a shift from face-to-face to remote service delivery. This has impacted the uptake of legal assistance due to decreased opportunities to refer.

A surge in demand is expected as restrictions ease.

NB: This is an interim summary of the impacts, adaptations and innovations which have arisen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. These will continue to be monitored and considered as the final RAP is developed.

Legal services
  • Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) shifted their response from face-to-face to remote service delivery via telephone or online website.
  • VLA implemented a Family Violence priority line at Legal Help and will be adding a family violence webchat channel.
  • Legal services worked with key stakeholders to ensure continuity of service, including by shifting to remote service delivery, improving referral pathways and enabling negotiations to continue.
  • Legal services that are embedded in community health centres and education facilities saw a large increase in referrals, due to health services being a key touchpoint for people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. There is an opportunity to enhance integrated services that “meet people where they are” and provide early intervention and wrap-around support to ensure victim survivors are supported to recover and thrive, applying a systems approach to meeting peoples’ needs.
  • Some Community Legal Centres (CLCs) introduced triaging at the Legal Helpline and provided virtual service delivery training.
Courts
  • VLA improved pathways from Legal Help to Duty Lawyer service for pre-court legal assistance.
  • VLA continued to provide duty lawyer services for family violence intervention order matters at the Magistrates’ Courts across the state while processes were put in place to facilitate this remotely where possible.
  • VLA continued to provide duty lawyer services for family law matters at the Family Law Courts, preferencing virtual provision of services where possible.
  • Consideration given to the benefits of complementing the Specialist Family Violence Courts model with remote service delivery and enhanced Audio-Visual Link technology.
Access to justice
  • Education Justice partnerships have occurred organically during coronavirus (COVID-19) and will be leveraged moving forward. Embedding legal services to meet people where they are increases access to justice and provides an opportunity to identify and address the complex systems that compound disadvantage.
  • Off-site legal assistance through technology can improve access to the justice system. In particular, this has the potential to reduce postcode justice issues.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) funding
  • The Victorian Government has provided a $17.5 million funding package for frontline legal assistance services to support Victorians with a range of issues, including family violence-related matters.
  • Victoria will have access to a proportion of the $20 million legal assistance package provided by the Commonwealth Government to support Australians experiencing family violence.
  • Victoria has signed up to the National Legal Assistance Partnership 2020 – 2025 to provide funding certainty to the legal assistance sector. 

The principles that underpin the reform have influenced our strategy to improve legal assistance.

Lived Experience
  • client engagement proposed in the Victoria Legal Aid Specialist Family Violence Courts (SFVC) legal practice model.
  • legal assistance is closely linked with the rollout of SFVCs, which changes the way people access justice through an approach that is victim survivor centred and keeps perpetrators in view.
Intersectionality

At-risk and vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected by inadequate access to legal assistance:

  • women in prison: 65 per cent of whom have been the victims of family violence
  • Aboriginal Victorians, who require culturally specific supports and legal assistance
  • culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • LGBTIQ people and people with disabilities
  • children and young people who experience or use family violence
  • older Victorians.

This underscores the importance of intersectionality, which is the lens through which all actions in this work portfolio will be approached. This informs, for example, the proposed approach to learning and development in the VLA SFVC practice model.

Aboriginal Self-Determination
  • Victoria Legal Aid is funding an Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer for the Ballarat SFVC.
  • Djirra supports Aboriginal people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence. In 2018 – 2019, Djirra’s Legal Service serviced 611 clients and provided 2410 assistance packages and 164 flexible support packages.
  • Umalek Balit is now available at Melbourne, Mildura and Shepparton Magistrates’ Courts.
  • This service provides practitioners who work with Aboriginal women and men to guide them through the court experience and offer culturally relevant non-legal expertise regarding family violence matters.
  • The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) continues to provide vital information, legal advice, assistance and referrals. Over the two-year period, 2017 – 2018 and 2018 – 2019, VALS provided services to 581 clients around Victoria.

Quick exit

TIP: Click on the SUBMIT MY FEEDBACK button to finalise your responses BEFORE providing feedback on another priority


Would you like to read about and provide feedback for another RAP2 priority theme or project?

Legal Assistance is one of 10 priority themes and projects for RAP2. If you would like to contribute to the development of our plans for other priority areas please click on the link below to return to the homepage.


Collection notice: The Department of Premier and Cabinet is committed to protecting personal information provided by you in accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014. The information you provide will be used to finalise the Victorian Government’s Family Violence Rolling Action Plan 2020 – 2023 (RAP2).

By submitting this survey, you consent to the Department of Premier and Cabinet collecting any personal information which you provide in your responses.

The information you provide may be made available to employees of the Department of Premier and Cabinet and Victorian Government employees or contractors whose duties require them to use it.

Survey responses, other than your personal information, may be published in the final RAP2 if you have provided consent for us to do so, which will be publicly available on the Victorian Government website (vic.gov.au). To the extent where you provided your organisation name and asked for it not to be published, this will be removed from any publishing of your survey responses. Efforts will be made to de-identify survey responses, and if this is not practically possible, those survey responses will not be published in the final RAP2.

You are entitled to access and correct your personal information. If you would like to access or correct the information you have provided to the department, please contact us by email at FV.RAP@dpc.vic.gov.au. In some cases, requests for personal information may be handled in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic).