What areas of law can we assist with?
Women’s Legal Service Victoria assists women experiencing disadvantage who are facing legal issues arising out of relationship breakdown and violence. This means that we assist women with issues such as:
- Protection from family violence (intervention orders)
- Children living with and spending time with their parents (this used to be called “custody and access” or “residence and contact”)
- Division of property after separation
- Separation and divorce
- Victims of crime applications
- Child protection
As part of a pilot program funded by Victoria Legal Aid, we also operate a child protection duty lawyer service at the Moorabbin Children’s Court (part of the Moorabbin Justice Centre).
We are also able to offer access to financial counselling to women experiencing problems with debt, financial hardship or accessing financial entitlements following relationship breakdown.
How can we help women?
We offer the following assistance to women in Victoria:
- free legal advice by phone on our Legal Advice Line (see below)
- free advice and representation to women at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court through our Legal Advice and Representation Clinic
- legal representation, in certain defined circumstances (see below)
Women’s Legal Service Victoria does not give second opinions. If you are concerned about the legal advice you are currently receiving you should discuss your concerns with your lawyer or contact the Legal Services Commissioner.
How can we help support workers?
We offer the following assistance to support workers who work with women who have experienced family violence:
On Call Lawyer - worker advice line (NOT for individual clients)
We provide over-the-phone and email preliminary family law and family violence law assistance to support family violence workers, financial counsellors, and other support workers working with women who have experienced family violence. Where appropriate, matters can also be referred to our legal casework team for legal representation of your client.
How to access the On Call Lawyer?
- Telephone: call our reception line 03 8622 0600.
- Hours of operation: Monday, Wednesday or Friday only, between 9.00-5.00pm.
- Email: provided to worker services only, upon request to WLSV.
We will endeavour to respond within 48 hours.
For more information on our On Call Lawyer service, see here.
Link: video-conferencing advice to women across Victoria
Through our Link Program, we partner with 23 agencies across the state to enable women who have experienced family violence to access legal advice via internet video conferencing.
For more information about Link, see here. And if you would like to enquire about becoming a partner agency, please call us on (03) 8622 0600.
We deliver training programs and share our expertise with other professionals regarding effective responses to violence, relationship breakdown, and child protection. For more information, see our training program calendar.
Our integrated, holistic service: includes a financial counselling and social work service
As part of our ongoing Stepping Stones program, in addition to legal services, we offer our casework clients:
We provide a specialist family violence financial counselling service to our clients who require assistance with problems relating to debt, financial hardship or accessing financial entitlements following relationship breakdown.
Social work assistance
Our social work service can provide our ongoing clients with, among other things: short term counselling and support; information about government and community support services and referrals, including in relation to housing; and, support for difficulties our clients have through the legal process.
We provide ongoing representation to:
Women facing significant barriers to accessing justice and
- Where our assistance will have greatest impact.
That impact may be for the individual or of a systemic nature, meaning that it will lead to improvements to the legal system.
The barriers may result from, for example:
- Health or disability
- Culture, language, literacy
- Long term exclusion from the workforce
We identify cases which are appropriate for ongoing representation using casework guidelines that can be viewed here.
If you are receiving a government benefit or pension you should contact Victoria Legal Aid prior to contacting our service to find out if they can assist you.
If you are seeking referrals to a private family lawyer or other legal services you should call the Law Institute of Victoria.
We operate a free and confidential Legal Advice Line for women in Victoria who need legal advice, information or referral. We offer women the opportunity to speak confidentially with a female lawyer about legal issues arising from relationship breakdown and violence against women.
Interpreter services are available.
Phone 03 8622 0600 (for metropolitan callers) or 1800 133 302 (for country callers)
Hours of operation
Tuesday 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Thursday 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
If you need URGENT legal advice outside these hours please call Victoria Legal Aid. If you are at risk of harm please call 000.
- Write your questions down
- Write down important events
- If you have documents, have them handy so that you can refer to them
We operate a free and confidential legal service at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. Our lawyers provide legal advice, representation and referrals for women who have intervention order matters in court that day.
We can assist women by:
- explaining the legal process
- negotiating with the other person or their lawyer
- providing court representation
- providing referrals for representation for final hearings, where necessary
Click here for family violence duty lawyer services provided by Community Legal Centres, at other Victorian Magistrates' Courts.
Hours of operation
Monday - Friday
9:30 am to 1:00 pm
Level 6, Melbourne Magistrates’ Court
233 William Street (corner of Lonsdale St)
MELBOURNE VIC 3000
The Women’s Legal Service office is located on the 6th floor. Please tell the court staff at the information counter when you arrive that you would like to see the Women’s Legal Service duty lawyer.
- Before coming to court telephone our Legal Advice Line to see how we may be able to assist with your intervention order matter.
- Arrive at court early, to ensure you receive assistance with your matter.
- If you are having trouble finding us at court, speak to a person from Court Network or to court staff at the information counter.
- If you need assistance at court when we are not there, ask to see the Duty Lawyer from Victoria Legal Aid.
Cutting funding to family violence services costs lives and money
15 February 2017
Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV) is in Canberra this week lobbying MPs and Senators from across the aisles to reverse upcoming funding cuts to the service. Media release can be read here
Rosie Batty distressed by funding cut to WLSV
9 February 2017
Victoria’s only specialist women’s family violence legal service has been devastated by a funding cut despite soaring family violence figures in the state.
Media release can be read here
21 December 2016
Women’s Legal Service Victoria is devastated to learn that we face $200K funding cut from the federal government in July 2017.
Media release can be read here.