Page updated April 16, 2021

Funding boost to keep more women and children safe

April 15, 2021

More women living with or at risk of family violence in Melbourne’s east will be able to access the support and legal advice they need thanks to funding from the Andrews Labor Government.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes has announced (Wednesday 14 April) that Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) will receive $464,000 for a pilot to expand its crucial early intervention services for women and children in the Knox local government area.

The program is already available in the Maroondah and Yarra Ranges local government areas.

What makes the program unique is the partnership between family violence lawyers and advocates and health services which provide a safe and confidential environment for mothers to seek help with family violence issues.

Research shows that women who are pregnant or who have young babies are at an increased risk of experiencing family violence – either for the first time, or in escalating frequency or severity.

The program supports women at this highly vulnerable time, arming them with information and linking them to specialist legal assistance and other family violence services.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said, “Seeking help for family violence can be incredibly intimidating – this program gives women a safe, comfortable and non-judgemental environment to take those first steps and get the support they need.”

Typically, women’s first contact with family violence services, police, lawyers, and courts occurs at a point of significant crisis. This program can help women before they reach this crisis point.

Minister for Women and the Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams said, “This vital program ensures women can understand their options and access the advice and assistance they need – as early as possible.”

Demand by women and children at risk of family violence has increased by 30 per cent on the previous year, mirroring the increased demand for family violence services seen during the pandemic throughout the state – and highlighting the importance of this vital program.

This unique model combining health services and family violence legal assistance enabled women to continue to access the program through their regular health appointments while COVID-19 public health restrictions were in place for much of 2020.

Member for Bayswater Jackson Taylor said, “The program has helped many women in our community experiencing family violence, particularly during the challenges arising from the pandemic – and that it was fantastic to see this support extended to the Knox community.”

ECLC CEO Michael Smith said he welcomes this funding boost to help more women and children who have been exposed to family violence due to the ongoing effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“ECLC is working to expand this vital support to Knox residents and to help keep more women and children safe,” said Michael.

The program is delivered in partnership with the Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Service.

People pictured above:

L-R: Marika Manioudakis (ECLC), Michael Smith CEO (ECLC), Member for Bayswater Jackson Taylor, and Susan Amos, Belinda Lo, and Kathy Ho from ECLC welcome the Victorian Government’s funding boost which will enable ECLC to keep more women and children safe in the Knox area.

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