Tuesday, 8th March 2016 at 11:11 am
The first of 12 specialist domestic violence units funded by $15 million from the Federal Government launched on Monday, the eve of International Women’s Day.
Legal Aid New South Wales opened the South West Sydney Domestic Violence Unit to assist women who are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, domestic and family violence.
The unit will receive $1.05 million over three years, providing women with access to legal advice, as well as other services including financial counselling, tenancy assistance, trauma counselling, and emergency accommodation.
In a joint statement Attorney-General George Brandis and Minister for Women Michaelia Cash said the domestic violence units were part of the Government’s $100 million Women’s Safety Package.
“Domestic and family violence is unacceptable, and the Government is committed to addressing the issue as a matter of urgency,” Brandis and Cash said.
“The Government is working with service providers to ensure that the units are integrated with state and territory domestic and family violence initiatives.”
The 12 specialist units will be established in metropolitan, rural and regional locations across Australia where there are high rates of domestic and family violence.
The specialist units will also include targeted assistance to Indigenous women, and those facing cultural and linguistic barriers.
CEO of Legal Aid NSW Bill Grant said the South West Sydney Domestic Violence Unit would be a “one stop shop” to help women and children at crisis point receive legal support.
“Our lawyers will attend the domestic violence list days at Bankstown and Liverpool courts, and then follow up with clients about their other legal needs – from family law and care and protection matters to housing, social security credit/debt problems, immigration and victims support,” Grant said.
“A social worker will assist the most vulnerable women and their children by organising support for their non-legal issues, like housing and security, counselling and connecting to government agencies.
“Legal Aid NSW is well placed to provide these services and we understand the issues because a large number of our clients, especially in family law matters, have experienced domestic violence in their lives.
“The staff of our new South West Sydney Domestic Violence Unit are experienced in providing services to vulnerable women and children and have their roots and connections in the region.”
He also said that the unit would work closely with other local, specialist services, including the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service.