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Landmark whistleblower project to receive share in $4.8m

The Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner (VLSB+C) will provide $4.8 million in funding to improve access to justice in the state.

user iconLauren Croft 05 December 2022 Big Law
Landmark whistleblower project to receive share in $4.8m
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Victorians who expose misconduct in the public or private sectors will get access to specialist legal support to ensure their rights are protected, with the VLSB+C providing $320,000 to help establish Australia’s first legal project dedicated to whistleblowing.

The project will be delivered by the Melbourne-based Human Rights Law Centre — and is one of 16 diverse projects to share in the $4.8 million funding from the VLSCB+C.

Keren Adams, Human Rights Law Centre acting co-chief executive, said that this fund would help protect Victoria’s most vulnerable and help enact positive change.


“Whistleblowers make Victoria and Australia a better place. But right now, too many whistleblowers are unable to enforce their legal rights to speak up without facing retaliation,” she said.

“This support from the Victorian Legal Services Board will enable the Human Rights Law Centre to establish Australia’s first dedicated whistleblowing legal project. We will help whistleblowers to speak up, expose injustice and drive positive change.”

There are also a number of other key projects who will receive a share in the funding.

Young people in Geelong and the surrounding region will benefit from $500,000 to Barwon Community Legal, which will team up with The Geelong Project and Barwon Child Youth and Family to design and pilot an early intervention program. This will target those most at risk of leaving school or becoming homeless as the result of civil law issues related to family violence, tenancy, fines and debt, discrimination or safety.

Justice Connect will also receive $185,000 to develop a new digital self-help tool for navigating Victoria’s rental laws, in a move to protect and further inform women experiencing family violence. A key goal of this project will be ensuring vulnerable women understand their rights following the strengthening of protections for tenants in 2021.

Bunjilwarra will receive $400,000 to employ a youth justice worker for three years to coordinate legal assistance for residents aged 16 to 25 in its unique rehabilitation program, which will enhance its holistic approach to wellbeing through a combined focus on improving health and justice outcomes.

Another $400,000 will go towards piloting restorative justice services in Melbourne’s outer east, helping Aboriginal children and young people connect with family, community and culture. Under the leadership of Dr Lois Peeler, Lotjpadhan will support a network of culturally safe spaces where people impacted by harm can come together and take part in conciliation.

Both these Aboriginal-led initiatives respond to recommendations published in the Commission for Children and Young People’s Our youth, our way report and will offer extra support for young Aboriginal people at risk.

Victorians who have been sold defective “lemon cars” will also benefit from stronger advocacy, with Consumer Action Law Centre receiving $273,000 to identify improvements to Victoria’s dispute resolution system, making it easier, cheaper and quicker for people to achieve redress.

Victorian Legal Services commissioner and board CEO Fiona McLeay said that each project chosen supports a group of people in a variety of meaningful ways.

“This year’s grant recipients have impressed and inspired us with their vision for fairer, more accessible justice in Victoria, where everyone gets the legal help they need, when they need it, no matter their circumstances.

“Some projects offer practical solutions to address entrenched problems requiring our urgent attention, such as the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the youth justice system. Others will help vulnerable people to deal with legal issues affecting their everyday lives. There are also projects that seek to build the evidence base for future reform,” she said.

“Our grants program acknowledges the important, passionate and tireless work of community legal centres and other grassroots organisations. They are the ones leading change to improve access to justice across the state, and we are proud to support them.”

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