Our history

Women's Legal Service Victoria 40+ Celebrations

As part of our 40+ Celebrations we’re gathering stories, photos and resources from the last four decades. If you worked or volunteered at Women’s Legal Resource Group/Women’s Legal Service Victoria we’d love to hear your stories! You can email us at [email protected] with any questions.
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For over four decades, Women’s Legal Service Victoria has championed women’s rights to live free from violence.  

 

Throughout our history, countless women have volunteered their time and skills to address the discrimination women face in the legal system, working to improve laws and access to justice. 

 

In 1981 a public meeting was held in Melbourne to discuss how to make the law and legal system recognise women and their needs. Six months later, Women’s Legal Resource Group was formed. Based out of Melbourne’s Women’s Liberation Centre, this group of women launched a free telephone legal help line.

 

Today, more than 40 years on, we provide face-to-face casework across different laws and courts as well as non-legal support for women to regain their independence.

  •  1980s We expanded services from free telephone support with funding from the Legal Aid Commission, creating educational resources like the Young Women’s Booklet and Girls Own magazines. The Women and The Law Conference in 1987 further facilitated collaboration and problem-solving with other feminist organisations.  
     
  • 1990s We joined the Real Rape Law Coalition to reform legal procedures for sexual assault survivors. With the mid-1990s came recognition at a political level that justice for women in Australia was lacking, leading to increased funding for Women’s Legal Services and a new phase of service delivery. This included face-to-face legal services, community outreach, and support for Indigenous women through the Indigenous Women’s Legal Resource Group.  

 

  • 2000s In the year 2000, we became Women’s Legal Service Victoria, reflecting the breadth of our services. 
      
  • Today We’re a team of lawyers, advocates, and educators continuing vital work to support women facing family violence and advocating for policy changes. Our commitment to gender equality and the rights of women and children to live free from violence remains unwavering. 
Timeline on a navy background. 1981 Women's Legal Resource Group take off. Volunteers provide drop-in and telephone support for women and girls. It is Australia’s first Women’s Legal Service - teaching women and girls about the law and demanding law changes to promote the safety of girls and women. 1984 Expansion of Services. Australia signs on to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Legal Aid Commission gives us money, allowing for the expansion of the volunteer telephone support line. 1987 Collective Action. The 1987 Women and The Law Conference is held in Melbourne with the theme “Taking on the System". More than 200 people attend. 1990s Nation-wide change. Women’s access to justice has gained a place on the political agenda. The Australian Law Reform Commission’s Equality Before the Law reports recognise a ‘failure of justice for women in Australia’. Governments respond and fund Women’s Legal Services and Indigenous Women’s Legal Services in all states and territories. The Indigenous Women’s Legal Resource Group is set up and supported to work from Healesville for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children. 2000s Women's Legal Service Victoria. It’s common for the Women’s legal team to open more than 700 cases across a year and provide free advice over the telephone to more than 1000 women. A Special General Meeting is called to discuss how to handle the growing workload of the organisation. The collective votes to change our name to represent more clearly the variety of services we now provide. Our groundbreaking Stepping Stones research report significantly changes the practice of courts, the finance industry and the financial counselling sector in its approach to economic abuse. Our Small Claims, Large Battles secures life-changing improvements for women, including laws to help stop family violence perpetrators hiding their super assets and support for women on no or low income to access legally assisted dispute resolution for small property claims. Now 40+ years and going strong. Our team of lawyers, advocates and educators support thousands of women across Victoria.

Our office is closed

We will reopen at 9am Monday 8 January 2024.

 

You can contact Victoria Legal Aid for legal support or Safe Steps for family violence support. 

 

Our duty lawyer services will continue during this period. Please contact your local court if you need legal help at court.

 

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We are currently not accepting online enquires

If you need urgent assistance, please call us on 1800 133 302.

 

You can also contact Victoria Legal Aid for legal support or Safe Steps for family violence support. 

 

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