Integrated Legal Practice: Impact & Influence

Family Violence Roundtable – 30 October 2023

The ‘Integrated Legal Practice – Impact and Influence‘ project will bring together strategic leaders in integrated practice from across the Victorian legal assistance and related sectors to participate in a Family Violence Roundtable. The Roundtable seeks to address structural and systemic barriers to accessing legal assistance for people experiencing family violence.

The day will start with an interactive, thought-provoking conversation with a panel of inspiring leaders, moderated by Maria Dimopoulos. Attendees will then be invited to participate in a focused conversation to formulate strategies and recommendations for advocacy in one of these key themes:

  • Reimagining the integrated service system and funding models
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, children and their families
  • Accessing legal assistance and barriers to justice
  • Family Violence, Homelessness and Housing Security
  • Multidisciplinary practice and integrated practice

Outcomes from the day will be documented and shared for broader collective development and advocacy.
Please note: This is an invitation only event.

Key Speaker Profiles

Moderated by:

Maria Dimopoulos AM, Chair, Safe & Equal  

Maria Dimopoulos is nationally and internationally recognised as an expert specialising in the intersections of diversity, gender equality and the law.  Her expert contributions have included knowledge provision and advisory roles in gender justice, advocacy, bridging and supporting participation in mainstream processes.

Maria has undertaken extensive sensitive research with a range of diverse communities and organisations and has had research published in a range of professional publications and peer reviewed journals including the Feminist Law Journal, Family and Domestic Violence Clearinghouse, and the Australian Institute of Criminology.

In 2008, she was appointed by the Federal government to the National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. Maria was also a member of the Access and Equity Inquiry Panel which reported to Government in 2012 on the accessibility of government services to multicultural Australia.

Maria’s work has been recognised through numerous awards including being awarded the Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to women, to cultural diversity, and to the prevention of domestic violence 2020, and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Migration Council of Australia for contributions to Australian multiculturalism and support for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse women 2017.

Welcome to Country

Aunty Zeta Thomson Aboriginal Elder

Aunty Zeta Thomson is a descendant of the Yorta Yorta Nation through her mother and the Wurundjeri people through her father. She grew up in Shepparton and has strong links to her ancestral homelands. She has strong knowledge and understanding of her culture, which is profoundly influenced by her mother, father and grandmother.

She has had a long involvement in Aboriginal Affairs and especially around Justice working at the community level and she is currently the Deputy Chair of the Eastern Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee, member of the Women’s Correctional Services Advisory Committee and an Independent Prison Visitor.

Rosie Batty AO

Rosie Batty is a formidable family violence campaigner who has given a voice to many thousands of victims of domestic violence who previously remained unheard. In February 2014, Rosie’s 11-year-old son Luke was murdered by his father after cricket practice at a Melbourne cricket ground. Just 24 hours later, Rosie both shocked and inspired Australians by speaking out amid her grief to confront a widespread problem.

Rosie’s incredible advocacy and extraordinary efforts to stop family violence led her to being named Australian of the Year in 2015 . Since then, Rosie has continued to make the most of her experience, position of influence, campaigning and advocating for necessary systemic and attitudinal change, to address the family violence epidemic.

Rosie was Chair of the first ever Victorian Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council for over 3 years in response to the country’s first Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Rosie has been inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women and is a recipient of The Pride of Australia National Courage Medal. Rosie received an Honorary Doctorate in 2017 from the University of the Sunshine Coast for her contribution to raising national awareness and action concerning Family Violence and received an Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday 2019 Honours List.

The Hon. Justice Jennifer Coate AO

The Hon. Jennifer Coate AO has held a number of senior judicial appointments over the years, including the inaugural President of the Children’s Court of Victoria the first female State Coroner of Victoria and as a Judge of the County and Family Courts.

Justice Coate served as one of six Commissioners for the five years of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Since then Justice Coate served as the Chair of the Victorian Victims of Crime Consultative Committee and as a Victorian Law Reform Commissioner. Justice Coate has actively supported ECLC as its Patron since early 2019.

Meena Singh Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People

Meena Singh is Victoria’s Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People.

Commissioner Singh, a Yorta Yorta woman, brings a wealth of skills and experience to this critical role – including as a Victoria Legal Aid lawyer representing children and young people in child protection and youth justice, together with multiple roles of key relevance to the Commission’s work, including with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Human Rights Law Centre, and Aboriginal family violence support service, Djirra.

Complementing Commissioner Singh’s extensive legal experience with marginalised Aboriginal people are deep connections with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, and involvement in prominent strategic advocacy campaigns, including to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

Martina Eaton Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council

Martina (she/her) is a proud lesbian and mother to one gorgeous son. She has worked with people from different backgrounds as a Community Development Worker for over 20 years. Martina is passionate about social justice and gender equality and wants everyone to know that family violence does not discriminate and it can and does happen to anyone.

Martina has been involved with Speaking Out, through Women’s Health East and is now working with Weavers through Melbourne University, contributing her lived experience to the work of researchers, and improving community attitudes about family violence. Martina is looking forward to raising awareness of family violence within the LGBTIQA+ community and ensuring the voices of this community are not overlooked as well as speaking out about the importance of gender equality in the prevention of family violence.


Focus Group Themes

Attendees will be asked to select their top two preferences of Focus Group theme.

1 – Reimagining the integrated service system and funding models

At the heart of integrated legal services is the intention to design and deliver services that meet an individual where they are at. Can our funding models and service systems be reimagined so that this goal is embedded in service design from the outset?

How can we rethink systems and policies that support and value the integration of legal assistance in preventing, intervening early and responding to family violence? Similarly, how can we ensure the place of community service professionals in legal assistance models that prevent, intervene early and respond to family violence?


2 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, children and their families

The data continues to show that family violence disproportionately impacts Aboriginal women and their children, with this trend contributing to the continued over-representation of Aboriginal children in out of home care. Early engagement with culturally safe legal and related supports is key to supporting Aboriginal women and children to remain safe together. Misidentification of the perpetrator of family violence is a continued issue impacting significantly on First Nations women.

How can we be allies in guaranteeing accessible, culturally safe, early intervention legal assistance for Aboriginal women and their children?


3 – Accessing legal assistance and barriers to justice

Access to timely, holistic legal advice as part of an integrated service for women at risk of or experiencing family violence is critical to keeping women and children safe and reducing the harm and impact of family violence. We know there are many barriers to people accessing timely legal advice and access to the legal system in general. Some of these barriers include regional/remote location, language, culturally appropriate/sensitive service delivery, LGBTIQA+ identity, disability and mental health.

How can we use the lessons from lived experience to strengthen access to early intervention legal assistance for those least likely to access legal help or least likely to identify that they have a legal issue?


4 – Family Violence, Homelessness and Housing Security

Lack of available public and community housing is putting extreme pressure on crisis accommodation to house women and children for long-term periods and forcing women in crisis to stay in unstable motel accommodation. This restricts women and children from accessing appropriate supports to remain safe and recover from trauma and also ensure they can maintain financial security.

The value of targeted, holistic, early intervention legal assistance ensures renters know their rights, know what supports are available and know how to get help when they need it. This is critical to preventing homelessness and addressing housing insecurity, particularly for women and children experiencing family violence. We need to ensure access to safe and secure housing for people experiencing elder abuse. Access to timely, accessible and holistic legal advice supports people to be informed of their rights and supported to make informed decisions.

How can we strengthen access to the right early intervention supports?


5 – Multidisciplinary practice and integrated practice

The strength and effectiveness of integrated practice in legal advice has been well-established. But there are challenges for organisations and sectors to be able to provide the right structures and supports for practitioners to work in this way.

How can we support the legal assistance sector to continue developing multidisciplinary practice and integrated practice? Can we better harness existing resources and expertise to maximise the value of integrated practice work? What could we do better across sectors and disciplines to support our current workforce to take full advantage of this approach?
Do we need to rethink our undergraduate and professional development curricula to build skills in cultural awareness, trauma-informed practice and partnership development at the outset?


The Family Violence Roundtable has been generously supported by Holding Redlich.

The Integrated Legal Practice – Impact and Influence Project is funded by the Victorian Legal Services Board and guided by the project’s Advisory Group.

The Advisory Group members include  Centre for Innovative Justice (RMIT University), DjirraFederation of Community Legal CentresHealth Justice AustraliaHume Riverina Community Legal ServiceJustice ConnectknowmoreSouth East Monash Legal ServiceVictoria Legal AidWest Heidelberg Legal Service and Women’s Legal Service Victoria.


Page updated October 3, 2023
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