Victorian Legal Services Board announced $1m to improve access to legal services

On the 22nd October Victorian Legal Services Board CEO and Commissioner Fiona McLeay announced seven grant recipients who would receive shares of a $1 million fund, aimed at helping ordinary and vulnerable Victorians to access simple and affordable legal support services. Projects include a scheme to provide women in regional Victoria with a pathway out of the justice system and supporting people to apply for the Disability Support Pension

Victoria Legal Aid’s ‘Joined-Up Justice for Gippsland’ project will improve access to timely, appropriate and culturally safe legal assistance for priority clients and communities in the Gippsland region. The project aims to establish and improve referral pathways, create a network of non-legal service providers and help member organisations coordinate services. Whilst the Mental Health Legal Centre has received funding to assist people managing complex health and mental health issues apply for the Disability Support Pension, by providing improved access to Centrelink resources. This project builds on the work of Social Security Rights Victoria, who earlier this year launched an online support service, including a medical chat bot, to support people to apply for the Disability Support Pension.

Victorian Legal Services Board CEO and Commissioner Fiona McLeay has said : “This program provides vulnerable Victorians with innovative new ways to get access to legal services when they need it the most. I’m pleased to be announcing this year’s successful grant applicants, and I congratulate each of the organisations for their innovative projects and commitment to increasing access to justice for Victorians. During times of crisis, such as now, these organisations are more important than ever as increasing numbers of Victorians find themselves in need of help.”

Read more about the grant program here. 

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Law Society of New South Wales launches free legal assistance to those impacted by bushfires

The Law Society of New South Wales, in partnership with Legal Aid NSW, community legal centres,  Justice Connect and the NSW Bar Association has launched the NSW Government’s Disaster Response Legal Service, which will provide free legal assistance to those affected by the tragic bushfires in NSW.

Richard Harvey, the President of the Law Society said: “In this time of great tragedy, we need to do all we can, as members of the NSW community and the legal profession, to assist those impacted by the bushfires who have lost so much.”

The Law Society’s statement also noted that many solicitors in the region may have been affected by the fires, and noted that the Law Society in partnership with Lawcover could assist in:

  • Trust accounting;
  • Professional support for loss of files; and
  • Professional support in costs, ethics and regulatory compliance for any affected legal practice, as well as any wellbeing issues that may arise.

The President’s full statement is available here. Full information about the response efforts is available here.

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