Link Virtual Outreach
“The way WLSV work with the clients is really empowering and compassionate and very clear. All the women I work with who have used it (Link) have been really stressed and overwhelmed and all of them have come out much calmer and clearer about their legal rights.”
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.
Link provides assistance to some of the most disadvantaged and isolated women in Victoria, partnering with regional social services agencies across Victoria including health centres, family violence refuges and community legal centres (CLCs). This year Link increased its reach by over 20%, providing 254 women with 333 appointments. Of these clients: 84% are on low incomes, 72% are sole parents, 68% rely on Centrelink as their main income, 27% live in rural and regional Victoria; and 12% have a disability. All had experienced family violence. All were provided free, safe, convenient access to specialised legal advice in the security of a support agency in a location convenient to them.
In conjunction with the Women’s Legal Service Victoria’s (WLSV) Legal Education team, Link continues to conduct training for our family violence partners based on the critical legal issues map. This training document is a unique road map designed by WLSV to assist workers to identify their clients’ legal needs and make timely and appropriate referrals to Link and other legal services.
Link has also established referral pathways with the regional offices of Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) and community legal centres which are located in the areas of our partner agencies. This ensures that disadvantaged women who have experienced family violence but who cannot be assisted by their local CLC or Legal Aid Office due to conflicts of interest can be assisted by WLSV.
This year, Link began providing specialist family law advice to community lawyers working in family law in rural and remote Victoria, building their capacity to meet the legal needs of women in their community. WLSV hosted lawyers from each of our four Link partner CLCs at our duty lawyer services, our legal clinic and provided ongoing practice support and co-case management of files in appropriate matters.
In the next 12 months WLSV will explore new Link partnerships with specialist services working with newly arrived women, young women, and women in prison.