HeaL: Holistic Empowerment Advocacy & Legal

NB: As HeaL is currently unfunded, it is running at minimal capacity until further funding can be secured.


HEAL provides legal support and specialist advocacy to people with complex support needs as a result of homelessness, mental illness and/or drug and alcohol issues.  In 2019 Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) received funding from the Legal Services Board and Commissioner for the Eastern Integrated Practice Project.

HeaL’s project vision is to:

To enhance access to justice and legal support for people experiencing increased vulnerability and disadvantage, through integrated practice approaches.

Project Purpose

The HeaL Program is an integrated multidisciplinary practice, comprising a Client Advocate and Lawyers from the Community Law Program providing coordinated legal and wrap-around support to clients with complex needs who are experiencing:

  • mental health issues;
  • alcohol or other drug related issues;
  • at risk of, or experiencing homelessness
  • have the least capacity to engage legal support and self-manage their legal and non-legal matters.

HeaL Logo

The HeaL logo is a celebratory symbol of a person’s lived experiences. It is based on Kintsugi, a Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold, transforming it into something stronger and more beautiful. Kintsugi can be a powerful metaphor for overcoming adversity, healing and resilience.


Case Study: Tim (he/him)*

Tim, an Aboriginal man in his mid-20’s was referred to ECLC by a financial counsellor because of multiple serious criminal charges and a number of fines. He was also experiencing significant mental health challenges (including generalised anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder) that had recently resulted in his hospitalisation. He was misusing a number of substances, was engaging in problematic gambling and had run out of his medication several days earlier. He had a history of childhood trauma and learning difficulties at school. Due to all of these elements, Tim also had a history of finding it challenging to engage and remain engaged with services.

After missing several legal appointments with ECLC, Tim was identified and assessed as a person who could benefit from the integrated practice approach of the HEAL program. Through the flexible and trauma-informed approach of the HEAL program as well as the expertise and skills of the HEAL Client Advocate, the HEAL program was able to build a trusted relationship with Tim that supported him to engage with the service.

From that time on, Tim attended every appointment with the HEAL Community Lawyer and Client Advocate, engaged with the services that he was referred to (including a local Aboriginal service) and was also able to secure some casual work.

The HEAL team were able to support Tim through his legal needs and represent him at a number of Court hearings which resulted in him being granted a 12-month good behaviour bond without conviction. Tim remains engaged with ECLC’s infringement clinic for ongoing support with his fines. He also remains engaged with a number of key services that are supporting him with his psychosocial needs.

Tim reported that ‘his life is back on track and he is working towards recovery’.

Tim’s legal pathway would have taken a very different trajectory if not for the support offered in HEAL’s integrated service.


* ECLC highly values the confidentiality and privacy of its clients and yet many wish their stories to be heard. No real names or images are used in case studies & some details have been amended to protect privacy. 


For further information about HEAL, contact ECLC on:

1300 32 52 00 (1300 ECLC 00)

email eclc@eclc.org.au, or

contact your nearest ECLC office

Page updated November 28, 2023
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