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 and personal safety (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
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.
We offer the following assistance to women in Victoria:
- free legal advice by phone on our Legal Advice Line
- 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.
Changes to our services
We are always looking for ways to increase our impact and reach the women who need us most. For this reason, we have recently made some changes to the services we offer. You can read more about these changes and the reasons for them here.
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 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Thursday 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
If you need URGENT legal advice outside these hours please call Victoria Legal Aid.
- 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
- seeking adjournments
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.
Critical lack of interpreters at courts for family violence victims
2 December 2016
A new research report released by Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV) has identified a critical lack of interpreter resources for people applying for a family violence intervention order. This finding is confirmed in the Victorian Government’s Access to Justice Review Report released on 4 October 2016.
Submission in response to inquiry into implementation of the Children's, Youth and Families Amendment (Permanent Care and other matters) Act 2014
25 November 2016
Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV) has identified a number of unintended consequences created by recent changes to child protection law in Victoria. In its submission to the Victorian Commission for Children and Young People, WLSV outlined some of the key reasons why recent legal changes intended to provide more timely and permanent care arrangements for vulnerable children haven’t worked.
The changes were made by the Children, Youth and Families Amendment (Permanent Care and Other Matters) Act 2014 and took effect in March 2016.
Read the submission here.
Greens adopt WLSA's 5-step Safety First in Family Law Campaign
2 June 2016
The plan is supported by over 90 organisations who have signed the open letter to all major political parties as well as former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, who is campaigning in support of the plan.
The announcement from the Greens increases pressure on the Prime Minister as well as the Opposition leader to step up and commit to the plan to make women and children safe in the family law system.
Read our media release here.