12 June 2024

Fitzroy Legal Service is seeing a growing number of victim-survivors seeking our assistance and is calling on supporters to donate this June to enable us to provide urgent legal advice to people like Gemma* who would otherwise go without.  

Gemma’s and Hugh’s* relationship was intense. Throughout their six-month relationship, Gemma felt increasingly suffocated. 

When she was not with him, he needed to know where she was, and what she was doing. Gemma knew something was not right.  

When Gemma requested space, Hugh became very anxious and did not stop calling her. Even when she blocked his number and changed her email, he somehow got her new email address.  

Hugh’s ex-partner advised Gemma that he had been emotionally and physically abusive in the past, and Gemma felt trapped and terrified. 

She went to the police to apply for an Intervention Order and was given the date for a court hearing with no idea of what to expect. That is when Fitzroy Legal Service’s free after-hours Night Service stepped in. 

We were able to guide Gemma on the family violence system and help her prepare for her court hearing so she could get the protection that she needed. 

“[The volunteer lawyer] wrote all the advice down so that I wouldn’t forget anything, which is of particular importance as it’s obviously a situation that might be triggering,” Gemma says. 

“The best outcome was achieved because of how organised the volunteer Night Service lawyer helped me to be.” 

Gemma*, Fitzroy Legal Service Night Service Client

In Victoria, every victim-survivor should have access to the legal support that they need to stay safe and free from violence. But according to FLS Service Director and Principal Lawyer – Night Service, Rebecca Johnston-Ryan, for too many women, that is not the case. 

“Gemma’s case is not unique,” Rebecca says. “Tragically, we are seeing more and more victim-survivors seeking assistance from the Night Service.” 

“With rates of gendered violence increasing, and services stretched to breaking point, our assistance is now more vital than ever.” 

Rebecca Johnston-Ryan, Fitzroy Legal Service Service Director and Principal Lawyer – Night Service

To help enable our Night Service to provide urgent legal advice to people like Gemma, Fitzroy Legal Service is running its Annual Night Service Appeal over ten days from Tuesday 4 June to Thursday 13 June.  

The purpose of the Appeal is to raise vital funds to cover fast-rising costs, such as IT, client data management, interpreter services, and insurance.  

FLS CEO Hamish McLachlan says these cost increases are far outstripping any increases in government funding. “Our sector is facing a ‘national funding crisis’, which results in over one thousand Australians being turned away from desperately needed legal support every day,” Hamish reports.  

“Initiated by pioneering legal disrupters in 1972, our Night Service operates as a vital safety net, five nights a week for thousands of people every year” 

Hamish McLachlan, Fitzroy Legal Service CEO

“For each of our clients, this after-hours legal service is the difference between being fairly treated and protected by the law, and not. But we cannot do it alone.”  

With $76, you can help us to provide urgent legal advice to a victim-survivor needing legal protection against family violence. Find out more and donate today 

*Names changed for privacy.  

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