Community Legal Centres NSW welcomes the release of the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children (“National Plan”), highlighting the important role that community legal centres can play in implementation.
Community Legal Centres NSW welcomes the release of the National Plan, particularly its recognition that social security and housing are essential when it comes to preventing violence.
We are particularly pleased to see the intersectional approach adopted, including its focus on violence across all life stages, the commitment to develop a standalone First Nations National Plan, and its recognition of the unique forms of violence that people – including sex workers, women with disability, or incarcerated women – experience.
Community legal centres’ role in implementing the National Plan
Every year, community legal centres in New South Wales support thousands of women and children who have experienced gender-based violence. In 2021-22, the community legal sector provided family domestic violence support to over 11,000 people, making it the top legal area that we worked in.
Community legal centres specialise in early intervention. Our holistic, compassionate, and trauma-informed approach ensures that victim-survivors can make informed choices, pursue justice, and regain a sense of safety. We deliver timely legal advice to prevent violence from escalating, and provide legal education to allied community workers, which assists people working in multiple settlings to better identify people at risk of gender-based violence.
When it comes to supporting victim-survivors, trust is critical. Community legal centres are in a unique position to provide place-based, local responses to violence across the state. From Broken Hill to the South Coast, and everywhere in between, community legal centres are there supporting local communities and collaborating with place-based organisations.
If adequately resourced by State and Federal Governments, community legal centres will be able to play an integral role in implementing the National Plan. Sustainable, long-term funding, delivered in a timely way, will ensure that we can provide women and children with the legal support they need to recover and heal.
The need for legal reform to prevent and address violence
We welcome the National Plan’s emphasis on the need for continuous improvement of the legal system, particularly its recognition that re-traumatisation and police misidentification must be addressed.
Advocating to change unfair laws and improve legal responses is one of the unique qualities of community legal centres. As services on-the-ground, we are uniquely placed to identify structural and systemic issues and develop meaningful solutions to these barriers to justice.
In 2022, Community Legal Centres NSW released a report, Change takes community: Action for a fairer future, that identifies key reforms at a State and Federal level to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. Priorities include developing a nationally consistent definition of domestic violence, expanding the family violence provisions of the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth), and expanding access to social security and housing for women who experience family, domestic and sexual violence.
Community Legal Centres NSW looks forward to working with State and Federal Governments to develop the Nation Plan’s Outcomes Framework and Action Plans, particularly when it comes to legislative reforms, improving the experience of support victim-survivors throughout the legal system, ensuring people experiencing violence can access safe and affordable housing, and reforming the social security system.
Stella Maynard, Media & Communications Officer, Community Legal Centres NSW
0481 567 482