Healthy Justice supports Bendigo’s most vulnerable children

AHA logoOn Monday the 22nd of July Loddon Campaspe CLC and Bendigo Community Health Services launched the Advocacy-Health Alliance (AHA) project at BCHS’ Kangaroo Flat site. This project is the first of its kind in Australia. Funded by the Clayton Utz Foundation, the project will provide legal services to address the unmet legal needs of vulnerable families and their children.

Families living in poverty are the most vulnerable in our society. Issues such as access to education, income security, discrimination, homelessness, family breakdown and violence exacerbate already difficult circumstances.

Our Coordinator, Peter Noble, explained how lawyers will work with health professionals: “The AHA project will focus on breaking the cycle of disadvantage through working with the family to empower them by directly addressing their unmet legal needs. The lawyer can work with health professionals and advocate for access to education, employment opportunities and deal with discrimination to ensure the child, through their family, have an equitable future.”

The Advocacy-Health Alliance is based on the successful US Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) model that established partnerships between legal services and health services to address unmet legal needs as social determinants of health.

Kim Sykes, CEO of Bendigo Community Health Services, welcomed the project: “We work with many families whose health is being impacted by issues that with legal support could be resolve. Unfortunately these families are not in a financial position to afford that help, particularly the more vulnerable children and their families. A program such as this will make an incredible and positive impact in our community. It’s the first of its kind in Australia and shows what we can achieve when working in partnership.”

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