Happy 18th Birthday HRCLS!

There was cause for celebration (and cake) on Friday July 28 when Hume Riverina Community Legal Service celebrated its 18th birthday, after Federal Attorney General Daryl Williams AM QC MP launched the service on that date in 1999.

From humble beginnings – four staff and a budget of $200,000 – the service has grown to become an accepted and key member of the legal sector, locally and nationally, with 11 legal and five admin/community development staff. The team is also about to grow further, thanks to Legal Aid NSW confirming funding for the NSW Care Partner Program, and a family law/family violence role.

While staff and budgets have changed, the commitment to providing a professional service for disadvantaged and vulnerable people and families in North East Victoria and Southern Riverina of NSW remains as strong as it was on day one. HRCLS provides family violence and family law legal assistance, as well as generalist legal services on everyday legal problems, including fines, credit and debt issues, consumer complaints and motor vehicle accidents.

Being auspiced by UMFC and with strong relationships in the community service sector, HRCLS continues to work together with other services, such as financial counselling and drug and alcohol support for clients struggling with multiple issues in their lives.

From the beginning we have been a voice for rural, regional & remote (RRR) Australia, and we continue to speak up for this sector of our community, with a particular emphasis on the complex issues of living on the border through differing laws in Victoria and NSW.

We are passionate about linking our community to the law, and our involvement in community legal education and law talks has continued to expand as our staff go out and about through our catchment of 17 local government areas, helping people to understand the law and how to access it.

Our commitment to law reform has long been a foundational pillar of our service and we continue to work for a fairer and more just society. Most recently we have been involved in the Access to Justice Review in both Victoria and NSW, the Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria and the Elder Abuse Inquiry (Vic).

We are grateful for the community support over the past 18 years and look forward to continuing to make a difference in our region by providing free legal advice to people who otherwise can’t afford a lawyer.

Reaching 18 is worth a celebration and cake! It's been a wonderful journey making a difference with free legal assistance for vulnerable people and families in our community.

Reaching 18 is worth a celebration and cake! It’s been a wonderful journey making a difference with free legal assistance for vulnerable people and families in our community.

Having legal affairs in order reduces risk of elder abuse

Hume Riverina Community Legal Service marked World Elder Abuse Day on June 15, 2017, by visiting aged care facilities in Wangaratta to raise awareness about the issue. Hume Riverina Community Legal Service principal lawyer Sarah Rodgers said elder abuse was generally carried out by a trusted family member or friend, and impacted a person in a number of ways, and legal assistance was needed in most cases.

“Financial abuse is the most common type of abuse reported, and all the evidence suggests it remains underreported in Victoria,” Ms Rogers said. “They can be extremely difficult situations, because the victim may need the support of the abuser to carry out their daily activities.”

Ms Rodgers said HRCLS visited aged care facilities because aged care and health care workers, including nurses, may see elder abuse first hand and can offer support, particularly if they see a negative change in behaviour or learn of financial transactions happening without permission.

“Helping people understand their rights, and ensuring staff at facilities caring for the elderly also identify issues, will help decrease the rates of elder abuse in the community,” Ms Rodgers said. “Elderly people can be reluctant to report abuse, and staff giving them information and support can encourage them to get help.”

Ms Rodgers said it was important elderly people had their legal affairs in order to help reduce the risk of elder abuse occurring. Older Victorians experiencing elder abuse, or family members concerned about an older person, can contact Hume Riverina Community Legal Service for free legal advice. Appointments can be made by calling 1800 918 377.

HRCLS is auspiced by UMFC who also offer assistance for over 65s through their Support Options Program, providing a range of services for the aged and those who care for them. For more information call 02 6055 8000 or 03 5720 0000.

Elder abuse includes:

  • Financial abuse:Using someone’s money, property or other assets illegally or improperly or forcing someone to change their will or sign documents. This is the most common form of abuse seen in Victoria.
  • Emotional abuse:Using threats, humiliation or harassment causing distress and feelings of shame, stress or powerlessness.
  • Physical abuse:Inflicting pain or injury by hitting, slapping, pushing or using restraints.
  • Social abuse:Forcing someone to become isolated by restricting access to family, friends or services. This can be used to prevent others from finding out about the abuse.

UMFC_Ruth Harris_HRCLS lawyer Deb Fisher_UMFC Jan Bence_HRCLS Simon Crase

IMAGE: UMFC manager support options aged and disability support services Ruth Harris, HRCLS lawyer Deb Fisher, UMFC manager Interchange aged disability support services Jan Bence and HRCLS Community Legal Education officer Simon Crase recognise World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Thursday, June 15

Come work with us

We are looking for a Family Violence Lawyer to come work with us in beautiful North East Victoria. This position is full-time (hours neg) until October 2017. See attached for more information and send your expression of interest to HRCLS Principal Lawyer Sarah Rodgers at [email protected]

HRCLS Family Lawyer PD

Scenic pic of NE countryside_March 31 work with us blog

Originally published 13 March 2017

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