Thursday, 14 August 2008

Victoria: New Family Violence Violence Help in Gippsland

Wednesday, 06 August 2008
Victims of family violence in Gippsland now have dedicated legal assistance as a result of a new family violence program at the community legal centre, Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls said today.


Gippsland Community Legal Service (CLS) is one of a network of centres across the State to share in $3.8 million Brumby Government funding through Victoria Legal Aid for 7.5 dedicated family violence lawyers.

“This funding has allowed the Gippsland Community Legal Service to establish a family violence program to support people who are applying for family violence intervention orders at the Latrobe Valley Court,” Mr Hulls said. “Lawyers who are working in the program provide legal advice, court representation and other assistance including an outreach service and casework representation.

“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.”

Launching the Gippsland program at Morwell’s Latrobe Valley Court complex, Mr Hulls said the Brumby Government was committed to improving the way the justice system responded to family violence.

He said the new Family Violence Protection Bill, introduced into Parliament in June, would better protect victims of family violence and hold perpetrators to account for their actions.

Key elements of the new Act would 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.

Mr Hulls said the new Act would also broaden the definition of family violence to include economic and emotional abuse, as well as other types of threatening and controlling behaviour, for the purpose of seeking intervention orders.

“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.”

Mr Hulls also confirmed the pilot of Victoria’s first County Koori Court, to be held at the Latrobe Valley Court complex, was on track to begin in December.

“While the Koori County Court will be based at Latrobe Valley Court, it will service all of Gippsland,” he said. “This is an important development for Gippsland’s Indigenous community because it is designed to break down the disengagement Indigenous people have had with the court system.”

Source: Ministerial Media Release

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