NSW A-G reveals funding for needed legal services

05 July 2022 By Jess Feyder
Mark Speakman

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman has announced funding for two important justice projects; one aimed at supporting people experiencing domestic and family violence (DFV) and the other supporting young people caught up in the justice system. 

Both grants have been made available through the NSW government’s Access to Justice Innovation Fund (AJIF), a $1 million, four-year initiative that aims to improve access to the justice system, particularly for socially and economically disadvantaged communities.

The Newcastle Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service will receive $83,000 to develop a video for people experiencing DFV. The video will explain the process for giving evidence in the local court.

Traditionally, pre-hearing clinics prepare domestic violence victim-survivors before they attend court to help them understand the court process; however, some people face barriers to attending these face-to-face clinics. This includes people of culturally diverse backgrounds, people who live in remote Aboriginal communities and isolated regional areas, male victims and people with disabilities.

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“This video is another way to provide that information and support to victim-survivors of domestic and family violence through what is already a traumatic, challenging process,” said Mr Speakman. 

“The video will be available on-demand for domestic violence victim-survivors who cannot attend pre-hearing clinics run by various women’s domestic violence court advocacy services in NSW and the NSW Police.”  

The videos will be available in a number of languages, including English, Arabic, Mandarin, Hindi and Vietnamese. These videos remove barriers facing those who would have otherwise been unable to access important information.

The NSW government will also provide $125,000 for the University of Newcastle’s youth justice project “Now.See.Hear”.

“These funds will be used to develop a culturally safe screening tool which will better inform youth justice professionals’ understanding of the trauma-related backgrounds of youth aged 12 to 25 years who are involved in the justice system,” Mr Speakman said.

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“This screening tool will be developed with Aboriginal leadership and use visual and narrative methods consistent with Aboriginal ways of ‘knowing and doing’ to identify prior trauma and improve youth justice practitioners’ capacity to respond adequately.

“The project has the potential to deliver a broad impact across NSW, with training videos to be made freely available to caseworkers, detention staff, police, lawyers, and judicial officers,” said Mr Speakman.

According to a report by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, “up to 90 per cent of justice-involved youth report exposure to some type of traumatic event. On average, 70 per cent of youth meet criteria for a mental health disorder with approximately 30 per cent of youth meeting criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Exposing youth justice professionals to content that educates them to take trauma-related backgrounds into consideration may alter their approach when engaging with youth in the justice system. This may see them preferencing rehabilitation-centred approaches rather than approaches centred around criminalisation.

“Both projects have the potential to change the lives of people who come into contact with the justice system,” said Mr Speakman.

NSW A-G reveals funding for needed legal services
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