Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer's Report

Sam Horsfield


Joanna Fletcher

Chief Executive Officer

Promoting healing in the legal system for victims of family violence: the potential of restorative justice

Family violence is on the political, media and public agenda in a way that it has never been before. With the Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria tasked with making practical recommendations to the Government to improve responses, we have a unique opportunity to convert this level of attention into real and lasting change.

Our impact through innovation

In this impact report you will read about the many ways in which Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV) innovates to respond to the needs of women experiencing family violence:

  •  As part of the multi-agency No More Deaths Victorian election campaign we secured wide-ranging state election commitments from all major political parties on reform of the family violence system.
  • We held our first digital interactive discussion forum in partnership with Deakin Centre for Rural & Regional Law and Justice – on family violence, family law and safety of children.
  • In this year alone, our economic wellbeing project, Stepping Stones, assisted nearly 150 women. Delivering integrated legal and financial counselling services to women who are experiencing financial hardship in the context of family violence, the project reduced clients’ collective debt by over $200,000.
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The Link virtual outreach program brings specialist legal advice and representation to women experiencing family violence across Victoria. Using Skype and other internet-based tools, the project coordinates a virtual legal practice, allowing WLSV lawyers to meet with clients from multiple locations around the state during any one day.

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Victims of family violence often continue to suffer economic abuse at the hands of their former partners long after leaving the perpetrator. The Stepping Stones project  focuses on assisting women to end the cycle of economic abuse and improve their economic wellbeing after family violence.

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Safer Families is a comprehensive professional development program for community legal centre lawyers that focuses on family violence and family law. The program includes competency based training, continuing professional development and mentoring.

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Case Studies

Leila's story

A woman is assisted in regaining contact with her children after her violent husband kidnaps them and takes them to live overseas.

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Vicki's story

A woman who has a debt incurred by her abusive husband after she fled the family home with her children is assisted to have this debt waived.

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Sally's story

A woman receives a fair financial settlement allowing her and her children to rebuild their lives after her violent husband burns down their house and takes his own life.

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