Inspired by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and principles of universal design, this project will co-design and trial new ways of doing legal services to help people feel safe and empowered, make their own decisions and participate more in their legal cases. We are working with people with lived experience of cognitive disability and the justice system to co-design these changes, but we expect that this new way of working will help all people who use our services.
Voices for Change are an emerging Self-Advocacy group for people with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) who have experience of the criminal justice system. The group has partnered with us under an auspice agreement and is focused on using their voice to reduce the number of people with ABI getting involved in the criminal justice system; to help people with ABI have the skills and confidence they need to raise their voices and concerns; and to support people with ABI to talk about issues that matter to them to make change. This auspice partnership will support Voices for Change to develop and strengthen strategies to up-skill the organisation to function more effectively and grow its membership and reach.
The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence confirmed that the needs of children who are victim survivors of family violence are overlooked by the service system, despite cognizance about the significant impact that family violence has upon their safety, wellbeing and development. In order to address the systemic issues impacting all victim survivors of family violence, inclusive of children, we partnered with Save the Children Australia, to design a project which would allow the two organisations to pilot an innovative, and coordinated approach to supporting the legal and non-legal needs of adult and child victim survivors, with an underlying ethos – to keep children’s needs visible.
This project was funded by the Victorian Legal Services Board Grants program and ran for a 15 month period from February 2019 to May 2020. An Evaluation Report written by Effective Change Pty Ltd, summarises the learnings and findings of the project around service collaboration, improved outcomes for victim survivors, identification of practice, policy and service system improvements, and recommending options for a future iteration of the model. The report substantiates the cross-system collaboration and early intervention approach of Rachel and her children, and recommends re-framing the model in accordance with the key learnings and findings from the pilot, if it can be sustained by further funding. We are currently seeking additional funding to continue this work in 2021, with the view to re-design and strengthen the model. We see enormous benefit in the continuity of legal representation and intensive child focused support for high needs families, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the anticipated surge of community need for a specialist, collaborative family violence legal service model that accounts for children’s individual needs.
This project explores how civil legal and social issues contribute to women’s involvement in the criminal justice system, particularly how unmet civil legal and social need escalate and compound pathways to women being criminalised. In partnership with La Trobe University’s Centre for Health, Law and Society, this project will draw on data from existing casework and conduct interviews with a range of professionals working in legal, community, housing, and family violence sectors to map the intersection of civil and social needs of women experiencing multiple forms of disadvantage with their involvement in the criminal justice system. We aim to develop a model or framework to capture knowledge and information from casework to be used in advocacy.
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