Family violence a key focus for community legal centre helping Border families
Hume Riverina Community Legal Service (HRCLS) is joining the 16 Days of Activism campaign and principal lawyer Sarah Rodgers has welcomed the family violence focus on the Border, with local organisations playing a role to change attitude and behaviour in the community.
Ms Rodgers said it was the important for the community legal service to help promote the 16 Days of Activism and support partners, including The Women’s Centre, Yes Unlimited, Women’s Health Goulburn North East, the Ovens Murray Integrated Family Violence Network and the Centre Against Violence.
“We want to show the wider community the legal system is responding and we want to play a role to help people,” Ms Rodgers said. “When people separate they need to understand the family law process, and I encourage anyone needing free legal assistance to get in touch with us on 1800 918 377.
“We are seeing an increasing number of clients experiencing family violence and more than half the work we do is in the family law/family violence area.”
People seeking free legal help often experience a number of problems, along with domestic violence. Ms Rodgers said the excellent partnerships HRCLS has formed helped to refer people quickly to the right service to get their problems solved.
“Many people have complex issues, such as housing, fines, credit and debt,” she said. “Often they also have child safety to consider, so we work closely with our auspicing body UMFC and local service providers to get these people help to make sure their families have support and can feel safe.”
Although residents in Albury-Wodonga view themselves as living in one community, Ms Rodgers said the differences in NSW and Victorian family law meant legal issues could be complicated. “This makes it even more critical to help people through the steps in the legal process,” she said.
Getting early legal advice was also important to prioritise the best way forward. “Many people think they need to take certain steps, when in fact they made need to do other things first,” she said.