Mapping Out Health Justice Partnerships Identifies Gaps
3 September 2018 at 5:15 pm
The first set of comprehensive data showing the growing number of health justice partnerships, will help to “identify the gaps” and assist some of society’s most vulnerable, an expert believes.
The partnerships were part of a growing movement that saw health and legal services collaborating to address a previously unmet legal need.
The report outlined which services were collaborating, how they were working together, and the assistance provided, and found the number of partnerships had jumped from just seven to 48 in four years.
CEO of Health Justice, Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine, told Pro Bono these partnerships targeted those at risk of family violence, elder abuse and addressed the intersecting needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
She said now there was a comprehensive map, they could better work with local and community organisations to “explore how to fill the gaps” as identified by the research.
“For example, eight out of the 48 services on the health justice landscape are working to address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, almost all of which are in partnership with Aboriginal community controlled health organisations, but doesn’t yet involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services,” Boyd-Caine said.
“That’s a gap we’d like to address.”
As most of these services were isolated from one another, with needs often intersected, coordination between health and justice was important, Boyd-Caine said.
“We need a more complex response to a more complex need. The value of partnership is that it brings the existing expertise of health and legal services to work in a cooperative way particularly as people have compounded problems,” she said.
While the report found an increase in services across Australia, an issue raised among many services was a lack of sustainable funding that allowed them to maintain the partnerships.
Boyd-Caine said many were funded on a year-to-year basis, with legal services
“particularly struggling” to secure the funding for their lawyers to continue in these partnerships.
“If you want organisations to work effectively together, you need to resource the collaboration,” she said.
“You need to invest in the relationships between organisations to do this work well, in addition to funding that sees lawyers in front of patients in health services.”
She said she hoped now the work of the health justice partnerships was clearly mapped out, it would not only encourage funders to see the value of it, but also to support people working in the industry.
“I believe it’s a key resource that we can now use to support practitioners and to work with government and non-government funders in terms of further developing these health justice partnerships,” she said.