A COMMUNITY legal centre that helps family violence victims through the intervention order process is set to benefit from the state government’s promise to overhaul a “broken system”.
As part of a $572 package to tackle family violence, the state government announced on Wednesday that $4.6 million would be allocated to specialist family violence services at community legal centres and Victoria Legal Aid.
Peter Noble, chief executive of Bendigo’s Arc Justice, which operates the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre, welcomed the government’s “initial response”, saying it met the “most critical needs”.
“This creates a lot more certainty and capacity to deliver legal assistance to women going through the family violence intervention order process,” he said.
“It’s a starting point … victims of family violence don’t have just a single legal issue – there are a range, including tenancy matters, debt disputes and parenting issues.”
The government has described family violence as “our number one law and order challenge”.
The funding promises, attorney-general Martin Pakula says, will address some of the 227 recommendations stemming from the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. Also included in the announcement is a commitment to make perpetrators more accountable.
“The (government) … is overhauling how we respond to family violence, putting victims first and ensuring perpetrators are rightly held to account,” he said.
Court reform, the development of men’s behaviour change programs and more sexual assault counselling for women will also be funded in the millions.
“Extra support for victims and greater resources for courts will change the way the justice system deals with family violence,” Mr Pakula said.
Mr Noble said the government had grabbed the issue by the “scruff of the neck”.
“We would just caution that any accountability response needs to be effective.”
For legal assistance relating to family violence, call Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre on 1800 450 909.