Legal Aid NSW steps up services for family violence survivors

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Legal Aid NSW has stepped up its services to help family violence survivors.

There was a 25% increase in the number of family law duty services recorded in Legal Aid NSW’s annual report, which was tabled in Parliament on Thursday. The organisation provided 12,636 family law duty services, the most it has provided in its history, in the last fiscal year.

It also opened a domestic violence unit on the Central Coast. The unit delivered more than 1,400 duty services,1,240 legal advice services, and 640 minor assistance services. That is in addition to 7,650 integrated duty lawyer and family support services provided in four Family Court registries, Legal Aid NSW said.

The organisation also supported the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCAS) managed by the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program at Legal Aid NSW. WDVCAS recorded a jump in the number of times that clients were helped, from 154,277 interactions to 176,678 interactions, up 14% on the year.

“We are very proud of our achievements in the past year, and in particular for our rapidly expanding program to help victims of domestic and family violence,” said Brendan Thomas, Legal Aid NSW chief executive. “The increase in services does not reflect an increase in domestic violence. It does however demonstrate a need for domestic violence legal and support services and a gap in services that is now being met in these locations.”

He said that the organisation will improve its family law service in regional NSW and develop a new strategy to address domestic violence next year.

“Everywhere I look, I see a passion and a commitment that I find both humbling and deeply impressive,” he said.