Better Access To Justice – A Fairer, Safer Victoria
The Andrews Labor Government will improve access to justice services and support the most vulnerable in our community in a step towards building a fairer, safer Victoria.
The 2015-16 Victorian Budget will deliver more support for those who need it most when dealing with the justice system – including victims of family violence, people suffering with mental health or cognitive impairment issues and those facing financial hardship.
The Labor Government will invest $2 million over two years in a Community Legal Centre Assistance Fund to support vital programs and services including family violence coordinators and lawyers and online services for rural and regional youth.
A further $1.2 million for Community Legal Centres will deliver additional family violence duty lawyers to support victims in the Magistrates’ Court.
$2.1 million will fund free legal assistance for victims to ensure proper legal representation in family violence matters, and $500,000 will allow the Magistrates’ Court to expand men’s behaviour change programs.
The Labor Government will deliver on an election commitment with an $80,000 safety audit to assess the physical structure and operation of Magistrates’ Courts across Victoria to guarantee our courts are safe places where victims of family violence are free from intimidation.
We will also invest $14.7 million over the next four years in improved technology at the Magistrates’ Court, with a major expansion to the video conferencing network spanning key metropolitan and regional courts and delivering additional mobile units to meet booming demand.
The Budget includes $12.7 million for the Assessment and Referral Court (ARC) List to support people with mental health and cognitive impairment issues in dealing with the justice system. The ARC means better support for participants, reduced recidivism and less pressure on our prisons.
Funding of $371,000 will save JobWatch, an employment law resource that provides free information and advice on workers’ rights, unfair dismissal, discrimination, redundancy, termination and bullying or harassment.
The long-running service – whose funding was due to expire on June 30 – will provide advice and representation for more than 8000 Victorians facing financial hardship in the coming year.
The Fitzroy Legal Service will receive $200,000 to ensure the Law Handbook remains free online. The handbook – a much-valued tool for students, community workers, low incomes earners and the broader public – uses plain English and provides information on a variety of topics for people without a legal background.
Quotes attributable to Attorney General, Martin Pakula
“A justice system that supports the most vulnerable in our community and gives the disadvantaged better access to services means a fairer, safer Victoria.”
“The Andrews Labor Government is proud to have established Australia’s first Royal Commission into Family Violence. While the Commission is ongoing, we’re doing everything we can to give victims of family violence the support they need.”
“This is a Budget built on fairness that puts the needs of victims of crime and disadvantaged Victorians first.”