Tackling family violence


Michaela Meade

A service aimed at reducing the “backlog” of family violence cases has launched at Broadmeadows Magistrates Court.

The Northern Community Legal Centre (NCLC) is running the Early Resolution Service (ERS) in response to the rise in family violence cases as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NCLC chief executive Jenni Smith said the ERS was a service many community legal centres had been calling for.

“[The ERS] is funded by the state government and was an initiative that was lobbied for by community legal centres and Victoria Legal Aid as a response to the impact of the backlog that we knew was occurring in the family violence list due to COVID and the extended lockdown,” she said.

“Six community legal centres including [NCLC] have been funded to increase our capacity to have family violence lawyers available to provide advice and negotiate before the next court dates.”

Ms Smith said the service would allow its lawyers to have a more focused workload.

“Family violence duty lawyers are able to only deal with the matters that are listed in court on the day,” she said.

“This service allows people who have applied for intervention orders or where the police have applied on their behalf to get a service before court, which will mean that those who have been waiting a long time with interim intervention orders in place will have the relief of being able to have finality to their court matter.”

Ms Smith said the service was a “terrific initiative” as it creates potential for a better model of legal support for victims of family violence.

“It enables support outside of the court and therefore alleviates the stressful and pressure-cooker environment which can often lead to people agreeing to orders with conditions that are unsuitable and inappropriate,” she said.

Details: www.northernclc.org.au/ers