Supporting victims of domestic violence must be the primary focus of any changes to the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services delivery model, the New South Wales Bar Association said today.
The Bar Association is aware that Legal Aid NSW has recently called for tenders to deliver the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCAS). The minister for family and community services told Budget Estimates on 5 September that Legal Aid NSW has had to revise the boundaries, contracts, funding allocations and policies of the service in response to a restructure by NSW Police of the local area command boundaries.
"The WDVCAS have provided invaluable assistance to obtain legal protection and support for more than two decades to women and children who are or have been experiencing domestic violence in NSW," Bar Association President Arthur Moses SC, said today.
"The Bar Association appreciates the importance of promoting consistency and collaboration between services providers, the courts and the police to address issues of domestic violence and provide appropriate support to victims. However, the association is concerned that the short tender process and any changes to the service model of the WDVCAS may adversely impact upon vulnerable members of the community at their time of need. These services are already in high demand and make a real difference to peoples’ lives.
"The association has written to the attorney general of NSW, the minister for family and community services and Legal Aid NSW to seek assurances that the resourcing and staffing of the WDVCAS, and the quality and specialisation of services provided, will not be affected at any time during or after tendering," Mr Moses SC said.