Free legal advice for women

Danielle RaffaeleNorth West Telegraph
Generic scales of justice.
Camera IconGeneric scales of justice. Credit: Fairfax

A two-year pilot program is set to provide essential legal services to women experiencing the scourge of domestic abuse across the Pilbara.

Women’s Legal Service WA has announced it will partner with BHP to provide free legal advice for women in the region, which continues to record rising rates of home-based violence.

It comes as WA recorded one of the highest reported rates of abuse across the country in the wake of COVID-19.

West Australians living in rural and remote areas are also more likely to experience family, domestic or sexual violence as a result of increased risk factors such as alcohol.

Earlier this year, the Pilbara introduced tougher booze controls in the form of a banned drinkers’ register to prevent problem drinkers from buying alcohol.

WLSWA board chair Zoe Henham said despite the COVID-19 pandemic being a challenging time for the organisation,she welcomed the new program.

“The effect of this partnership is that WLSWA will extend its vital legal resources to woman across WA, providing them with free legal advice in the areas of family law, family violence, protection and care of children, and criminal injuries compensation,” she said.

The initiative includes a Statewide telephone service, a virtual office, community legal education, and the services of a duty lawyer.

WLSWA chief executive Gillian Booth-Yudelman said domestic violence services were essential in the Pilbara, with distance from metro facilities heightening the issue.

“Women in rural and regional areas have extremely limited access to generalist legal and support services,” she said.

“We know their outcomes will be better and therefore their families and communities stronger if they access dedicated trauma-informed, gender-specific and culturally appropriate services.”

Ms Booth-Yudelman said WLSWA was dedicated to working across the State to fill a “unique and urgent need” for vital services.

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