More than 70% of our casework features an element of family violence. So we were recently pleased when the local member Maree Edwards informed us that the Victorian government would provide us with an additional $47,000 to allow us to continue supporting people experiencing family violence. This funding boost will go towards our Health-Justice Partnership with Bendigo Community Health Services and will allow us to work more closely with financial counsellors and service providers in Maryborough.
Unfortunately, this funding boost is still not enough to allow us to cover our entire catchment. Specifically, it will not allow us to help family violence victims in Echuca, an area with high levels of family violence. We need ongoing funding to allow for service planning, early intervention and working collaboratively with support services in that region. Legal assistance for victims of family violence must go beyond duty lawyer assistance for Intervention Order matters. We also need to be able to assist victims with related family law, child protection and financial matters, so that victims have a real chance to escape the violence and thrive.
While we are grateful for the Victorian government’s funding boost, Community Legal Centres across the country still need ongoing funding in this space, especially with looming Federal cuts that will see even more family violence victims go without legal advice and support at one of the most challenging times of their lives. As of July 2017, the Federal government will cut Community Legal Centres funding by 30%. In our case, this funding cut will represent the loss of at least one position at our Shepparton division,Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre.
We urge all our supporters to raise this issue with Federal politicians to ensure that funding for frontline family violence services matches the government’s rhetoric on the need to tackle family violence. If you are on Twitter, you can follow the issue via the hashtag #FundEqualJustice