Joint media release: Yvette Berry MLA and Meegan Fitzharris MLA
A new co-designed pilot program aimed at helping pregnant women and new families experiencing or at risk of domestic and family violence to access free legal services was launched today.
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Yvette Berry MLA, and Minister for Health and Wellbeing Meegan Fitzharris MLA jointly announced the pilot which has been developed by the ACT Government’s Family Safety Hub, community and service professionals and people with a lived experience of violence.
As a result of the pilot, Calvary Public Hospital, the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children and the Gungahlin Child and Family Centre will have easy access to free and confidential legal services, available to pregnant women and new families experiencing domestic and family violence.
Minister Berry said the aim of the new program is to make services easier to access for women whose movements and interactions may be restricted by their partner.
“Some women may be afraid or unable to access services because they may not want a police or legal response. This confidential service will help them decide what will work for them according to their own particular circumstances.
“There is a one in five risk of women experiencing violence from their partner during and after pregnancy and of these women, a quarter experience violence for the first time while they are pregnant. These statistics are unacceptable and this problem requires a whole of community response.
“One of the great benefits of the pilot is that health, community and legal professionals will be able to regularly interact and share their knowledge and perspectives with one another so that they can provide the best possible care.”
Minister Fitzharris said health facilities have been chosen for the trial because women already have established relationships with the health professionals they are seeing throughout their pregnancy, making it easier for them to disclose.
“We know that in times of need people seek help from trusted professionals,” Minister Fitzharris said.
“Our health practitioners and front line staff are professional and are not only able to explain what services and help is available, but also to provide assurances about confidentiality.
“An important part of the pilot is for us to look at ways we can build future capability in our hospitals and child and family centres, so I am pleased to see the trial being delivered in our two maternity wards and also in a community health facility.”
Indicators of the pilot’s success including service usage, referrals and the types of advice people want in this setting will be monitored to understand how well the pilot is operating. Depending on the outcomes, the service will end, be extended or scaled-up.
The pilot is part of the work being led by Jo Wood, the Coordinator General for Family Safety. It will run until the end of 2018-19 financial year.
- Statement ends -
Section: Yvette Berry, MLA | Media Releases
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