Women’s Safety Package

Health Justice Partnerships were initially developed for clients experiencing chronic illness and/or disability in the United States of America, (referred to as “Medical-Legal Partnerships (MLP’s). The model was introduced following research evidencing the link between patients with health concerns also having associated legal needs.  Evidence suggested that there was an “increased likelihood of having multiple, complex and interconnected legal and non-legal needs” with clients experiencing chronic illness or disability.

Consequently, an integrated and collaborative practice model emerged between medical services and legal services. It focused on maximising client capacity by providing legal information and support whilst addressing and managing the social and medical needs for the patient.  This practice model, although relatively new to Australia, is fast evolving.

On 16 October 2015, the Australian Federal Government introduced a “Women’s Safety Package” which incorporated an integrated health justice model. The package is funded for three years to assist ALL women and children experiencing domestic violence access appropriate legal assistance and also other social services. It is a collaborative legal practice model where the client has both legal and non-legal needs addressed and acts as a “wrap around service”.

This nation-wide pilot program targets “at risk” women and children via the new Specialist Domestic Violence Units and Health Justice Partnerships. The locations of the Domestic Violence Units and the Health Justice Partnerships were unilaterally selected by the Federal Government, based on nationally recognised higher rates of domestic violence. The Women’s Safety Package aims to ensure that women and children in each state and territory benefited from improved access to holistic health and legal front-line services.

Central Australian Women’s Legal Service (CAWLS) Alice Springs was selected to represent the Central Australia demographic. CAWLS is partnering with the local hospital and other health centres, to deliver this free service to the women of Central Australia.

Contact CAWLS at enquiries@cawls.org.au, (08) 89524055 or free call 1800 684 055 for further information.