WCC Annual Report - Page 23

Whittlesea Community Legal Service Law- Reform- Whittlesea CALD Communities Family Violence Project We followed-on from the extensive work we carried-out last financial year on documenting the need for integrated responses to family violence. WCC, through its legal service, has continued to play a leadership role in the implementation of new prevention and early intervention family violence model aimed at supporting Whittlesea’s multicultural communities tackle the prevalent issue of family violence. Along with our partners from the Whittlesea Community Futures Partnership a steering group has been formed consisting of:? Whittlesea Community Connections ? City of Whittlesea ? Whittlesea Community Futures Partnership ? The Salvation Army Crossroads Youth and Family Services ? ? ? Plenty Valley Community Health Kildonan UnitingCare Northern Family and Domestic Violence Service, Berry Street, Victoria Victoria Police ? The project has achieved important success in gaining 3 year funding from the Scanlon Foundation as well as oneoff funding from the Victorian Women’s Trust and Victoria Legal Aid. These funds will enable us to begin to roll-out 2 of the 6 elements of the model – supporting the social connection of women from CALD backgrounds and engaging with community and religious leaders. VLA funding, in particular, will allow us to recruit a project worker for a year and will have significant impact in accelerating the roll-out of the integrated model as well as increase our capacity to attract more resources for the project. Family violence is both prevalent and preventable and WCC is committed to ensuring that we play our part in eliminating it from our community. Funding and capacity-building Sustained advocacy to increase funding for our legal service has eventually paid-off with a significant investment in our team announced in the last days of the Labor Government. An injection of $480,000 of new money over the next 4 years is significant for such a vital and underfunded legal service. This funding success will at last enable us to employ a family law specific lawyer. Family law accounts for approximately 60% of all our activities and to have a specialist lawyer role focusing on building our family law work is long overdue. Our representations to Victoria Legal Aid on the legal needs of our growing community have also paid off with an announcement that our State funding will also increase on a recurrent basis by $50,000 per annum from next financial year. With the injection of these new state and commonwealth funds we will be increasing our staffing from next financial year by at least 2 new lawyers. Community Legal Education The provision of community legal education is a key service for WCLS. Community legal education works by providing information to people about the way the legal and justice system operates and by providing important information about legal rights and responsibilities. During the year we provided 59 community legal education sessions (almost 5 per month) covering a range of legal matters including family law, family violence and wills. The Attorney General Mark Dreyfus (centre) with WCC staff, volunteers and Committee members on his visit to announce the increase in commonwealth funds to WCLS 22