Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Victoria: Victims of family violence now have help at Broadmeadows community legal centre

Victims of family violence in Broadmeadows now have dedicated legal assistance as a result of a new family violence program at the community legal centre, Victorian Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls has said.

The Broadmeadows Community Legal Service (CLS) is one of a network of centres across the state to receive Brumby Government funding through Victoria Legal Aid for dedicated family violence lawyers.

“The Brumby Government is taking action for families and communities across Victoria,” Mr Hulls said.

“This funding has allowed the Broadmeadows CLS to establish a family violence program and the lawyers who are working in the program support those who are applying for family violence intervention orders by providing legal advice, court representation and other assistance.

“For many, going to court to apply for an intervention order is one of the bravest things they’ll ever do. Victims of family violence now have a dedicated service they can call for legal assistance. It’s crucial that victims get the help they need to navigate the court system.”

The statewide family violence Community Legal Centre initiative was funded in the 2007/08 State Budget. The Brumby Government made a further commitment of $24.7 million in the 2008/09 Budget aimed at breaking the cycle of abuse by stopping family violence before it happens and extending support for victims.

“Family violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15 to 45,” Mr Hulls said.

“This has a devastating impact on the Victorian community.

“The Brumby Government is committed to improving the way the justice system responds to family violence.”

Later this year the Government will introduce a new Family Violence Bill to better protect victims of family violence and hold perpetrators to account for their actions.

Key elements of the proposed new Bill include making it easier for victims of family violence to remain in the family home with their children while the perpetrator may be required to leave, and ensuring that self-represented perpetrators cannot personally cross-examine their victims in court.

“These changes will help ensure that victims of violence are not further distressed by being forced from their homes, often uprooting children from their friends and schools,” Mr Hulls said.

“In the past family violence has been seen as a domestic matter. It’s not – it’s a blight on our community, which has a devastating impact on victims and families.”

Source: Ministerial media release

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