New family and domestic
violence resource for lawyers
The Law Society of NSW, the peak association representing the state’s 36,000 solicitors, has launched a resource which provides practical guidance for lawyers on working with clients who have experienced, or are at risk of, domestic and family violence.
President of the Law Society, Juliana Warner, said legal practitioners and other support services are all too familiar with the real, lasting and often tragic consequences of violence against women and children.
“This new resource, “Working with clients affected by domestic and family violence” aims to help legal practitioners, particularly family lawyers, to understand the practical and procedural steps they can take to prioritise safety, at any stage of the matter,” Ms Warner said.
“Matters where clients or their children are impacted by family and domestic violence can be some of the most difficult matters to deal with, especially for lawyers new to family law.
“The guide aims to identify key issues, and to help practitioners to comply with key professional obligations, in the context of domestic and family violence issues. It provides tools and steps for each stage of a matter.
“While primarily the guide focuses on the family law context, the Law Society acknowledges that domestic and family violence is pervasive, complex and can happen in many contexts.
“Legal practitioners may encounter domestic and family violence in a diverse range of matters, particularly in family law and apprehended domestic violence order matters, but also in areas such as criminal law, child protection, immigration, housing and tenancy, consumer credit disputes, partnership disputes, wills, and estate planning and other aspects of elder law.
“The guide can be used in relation to clients who are victims of violence, clients who have committed or allegedly committed acts of violence, or clients who are in both categories.”
The Law Society of NSW also welcomed the NSW Government’s record $484.3 million funding package for specialist housing and support services for women and children escaping from domestic and family violence. The funding includes $426.6 million to expand the Core and Cluster program and deliver and operate an additional 75 women’s refuges to support women and children escaping domestic and family violence. Under the model, crisis accommodation is clustered around a core communal space where residents can access counselling, legal assistance, education and employment support. The sites contain meeting rooms, audio-visual equipment for court appearances, communal kitchens, and playgrounds.
“We cannot underestimate the impacts of the pandemic on women and children experiencing domestic and family violence and the compelling need for them to have access to safe accommodation and appropriate support services, particularly in regional and rural areas of NSW,” Ms Warner said.