Position to provide further legal support for family violence issues in country NSW

BOOST: Hume Riverina Community Legal Service duty and senior lawyers Mae Mactier and Alison Maher. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS
BOOST: Hume Riverina Community Legal Service duty and senior lawyers Mae Mactier and Alison Maher. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS

The Hume Riverina Community Legal Service will provide further support to rural Southern NSW residents through the appointment of a new family law position.

Commonwealth funding distributed by Legal Aid NSW will mean the worker can travel as far as Deniliquin, reaching out to some of the most isolated family violence victims.

These services will officially begin in January 2018 and have been funded until June 30, 2020.

Senior Lawyer Alison Maher said it would expand the reach of HRCLS, who have been increasing their outreach services to places like Holbrook and Henty.

“At the moment a lot of our services are directed towards Victorian family violence support as we have specific funding through Victorian Legal Aid,” she said.

“It’s a huge area in NSW and there’s a real need for more support in those areas.

“It’s so important we work with the local providers and have a cross-referral systems.” 

Lawyers also provide legal advice at Wodonga, Myrtleford and Wangaratta courts.

A youth lawyer has been meeting with young people who have experienced family violence in learning centres across the region since May, through the Invisible Hurdles Project.

Ms Maher is also one of three in the team working on a two-year project to give better continuity of legal services to people experiencing family violence.

“We are working with people, whether it be a victim or a perpetrator, and assisting them with family law issues going forward,” she said.

In 2016 the centre’s workers travelled 27,334 kilometres.

They helped 1809 clients, a 14 per cent increase on the previous year.

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman visited the legal service last week and principal lawyer Sarah Rodgers said it was a chance to highlight cross-Border issues.

“The Attorney General was interested to learn more about our approach and what was working well, and also what could be improved,” she said.

“Mr Speakman was very attentive, asked plenty of questions and able to clarify how the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme will be implemented.”