Women experiencing domestic violence and people affected by poor mental health to benefit from increased funding for community legal service programs

A significant funding boost for Hume Riverina Community Legal Service (HRCLS) will increase free legal services to women who have or are experiencing domestic violence in NSW, and grow the connection with Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service (AWAHS) to assist people experiencing mental health conditions deal with their legal problems.

HRCLS Acting Principal Lawyer Debi Fisher welcomed the funding, which will enhance existing partnerships over the next four years and expand the reach of the community legal service in NSW.

“We are pleased to be given the two streams of NSW NLAP funding to help more people with their legal problems, and excited at the opportunities this presents to continue growing our partnerships,” Ms Fisher said “Our community has been through a lot over the last few years with bushfires, COVID, and border restrictions. All of this takes a toll on people’s wellbeing and makes dealing with everyday legal problems even harder. We know that working in partnership leads to better outcomes for people, as they can be supported with their social, health and legal problems in a collaborative way.

“Our relationship with AWAHS has been running for 12 years and this new program will help expand the assistance we can provide to the community,” Ms Fisher said. “We are looking forward to this exciting new initiative which will help meet the demand for legal assistance and build on the success of the partnership we have had with AWAHS through the Invisible Hurdles project, targeting youth affected by family violence.”

The funding will also enable HRCLS to increase its presence in areas of the Southern Riverina such as Deniliquin, Finley and Corowa. HRCLS will work closely with the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service to ensure women in the region who have experienced or are experiencing domestic violence, have timely access to free legal services.

“We know the benefits early legal intervention have for woman and children experiencing domestic violence,” Ms Fisher said. “This funding will enable us to engage early, and to help tackle the myriad legal issues that women may be experiencing, such as family law problems, debts, fines and housing. It can be very difficult for women to get free legal assistance in these areas, and we are keen to meet clients where they are at and provide that wrap-around, holistic service which is needed.”

Funding for the additional legal service was announced as part of the extra $95 million funding under the National Legal Assistance Partnership Agreement 2020-25.