Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention & Legal Service Victoria. FVPLS Victoria. Annual Report

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1 Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention & Legal Service Victoria FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

2 Our objectives are to provide assistance to victims of family violence; to reduce the incidence of violence and abuse in communities through community education and advocacy; to increase the recognition of the problem of violence and abuse in communities through community education and advocacy; and to facilitate long-term solutions to violence and abuse in communities.

3 Contents About us 1 Chairperson s report 2 FVPLS Victoria Directors 3 Committees and working groups 4 Legal practice 5 Case studies 7 Community legal education 9 Policy and advocacy 11 FVPLS Victoria National Conference 12 Our staff 13 Acknowledgements 14 Financial statements for the year ended 30 June About us Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria (FVPLS Victoria) is an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation established in 2002 to provide assistance to victims/survivors of family violence and sexual assault and to work with families and communities affected by violence. FVPLS Victoria provides free legal advice, referrals, ongoing casework and court representation, and assists in the following areas: intervention orders family law victims compensation, and other legal problems arising from family violence. FVPLS Victoria also engages in community legal education and community development activities, as well as policy and law reform directed towards systemic change. FVPLS Victoria is funded through a number of sources including the Commonwealth Attorney- General s Department, Victoria Legal Aid (VLA), Victorian Department of Justice and Victorian Department of Human Services. We also receive project grants from various other funding sources. The FVPLS Victoria services metropolitan Melbourne and the following areas through our regional offices: Barwon South West Our office and staff are based in Warrnambool and cover the entire region including Framlingham, Heywood, Hamilton and Portland. Gippsland Our office and staff are based in Bairnsdale and cover the entire Gippsland region. Mildura Our office and staff are located in Mildura and cover the Mildura Local Government Area and Robinvale, as well as Wentworth and Dareton in NSW. FVPLS Victoria s hours of operation are 9.00am 5.00pm Monday Friday. Callers contacting FVPLS Victoria s toll free number out of business hours who require crisis support are advised to phone the Women s Domestic Violence Crisis Service on or, for criminal law, the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service on FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

4 Chairperson s report has been a year of great significance for FVPLS Victoria. In October 2012 FVPLS Victoria celebrated our ten year anniversary. Our anniversary provided an important opportunity to reflect on progress made in the last decade and the work that still needs to be done to improve justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 1 women and children. In October 2012 our CEO Antoinette Braybrook marked ten years working for the organisation. This is a remarkable commitment to Aboriginal victims/ survivors of family violence in Victoria. Under her leadership, FVPLS Victoria has grown from a small team of three staff to an organisation of 30 staff members across four offices. I congratulate her on ten years of service to FVPLS Victoria. Other key highlights from include: We marked our 10th anniversary with a celebratory dinner and the launch of our history book, A Force to Be Reckoned With The book documents the challenges and highlights of our ten year journey in addressing broadranging disadvantage and advancing law and justice outcomes for Aboriginal women in Victoria. Coinciding with our 10th anniversary, approximately 250 people attended FVPLS Victoria s first national conference Standing Firm for Change: A Journey to Justice. In late 2012 we were very excited to receive approval from the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) to purchase our own building. We are still looking for the right property which meets the ILC funding terms. In the coming year we hope to realise our goal to be housed in our own building. An additional twelve months funding was secured for key positions including our Melbourne-based family violence lawyer, child protection lawyer and policy officers. We have recently employed two new Aboriginal young women in paralegal and administrative positions in our organisation. We have been fortunate to increase the number of Aboriginal staff during the year to nine. We have increased our engagement at an international level, through CEO Antoinette Braybrook s attendance at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 57th Session and our ongoing engagement with United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo. In mid 2013 FVPLS Victoria was also granted Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. The Secretariat for the National FVPLS Forum, hosted by FVPLS Victoria and first funded in early 2012, has strengthened support for FVPLS units nationally via additional funding for capacity building initiatives and increased communication. We continue to experience challenges in securing long-term funding for many of our lawyer positions, as well as our proven successful early intervention and prevention programs. FVPLS Victoria continues to meet with key stakeholders, including State and Commonwealth politicians, to advocate for longer term, sustainable funding for our service. It has been a pleasure to be involved in FVPLS Victoria this year, as we celebrate so many important milestones and events. I must acknowledge my fellow Directors who provide such strong leadership and guidance to the organisation. Our work would also not be possible without the support of our funding partners who are acknowledged in this report, including the Commonwealth Attorney General s Department, Legal Services Board, William Buckland Foundation, Victorian Department of Human Services, Victorian Department of Justice and Victoria Legal Aid. My thanks go to our CEO, Antoinette Braybrook, and the entire FVPLS staff team for their commitment to ensuring that FVPLS Victoria remains a force to be reckoned with and to the clients who continue to inspire us all with their strength, courage and resilience. Marion Hansen Chairperson 1 Hereafter Aboriginal 2 FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

5 FVPLS Victoria Directors Marion Hansen Chairperson, appointed 2002 Marion has worked in the Aboriginal community for more than 25 years. She is currently employed by the Department of Human Services and works on initiatives to Close the Gap. Marion has taken a lead role in advocating for the prevention of family violence in Aboriginal communities. Marion s leadership in this area is well recognised through her representation on key state-wide forums. Karen Bryant Deputy Chairperson, appointed 2002 Karen currently works as the Aboriginal Liaison Officer at the Northern Hospital. Previously she worked for many years at the only Aboriginal women s refuge in Victoria. Karen is a wellrespected leader in the Aboriginal community. Damien Goodall Secretary, appointed 2002 Damien is a proud Koori man who is the Family Services Coordinator at Yoowinna Wurnalung Healing Service, based in Lakes Entrance, which provides programs and services to support Aboriginal victims affected by family violence. Damien has extensive experience in the areas of men s programs and the safety of Aboriginal women and children. Damien is well respected in the Aboriginal community for the work he undertakes in the prevention of family violence. Marion Hansen, chairperson, launching our history book, A Force to be Reckoned With. Jaynaya Williams appointed 2007 Jaynaya is a young Aboriginal woman who works for the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO). Jaynaya is considered a role model for the work that she undertakes in respect of family violence in Aboriginal communities. Kylie Belling appointed 2007 (resigned June 2013) Kylie is the Aboriginal Programs Coordinator at Quit Victoria. Kylie has taken a lead role in the Aboriginal community in relation to substance abuse, family violence and the safety of Aboriginal women and children. Kylie is currently undertaking a Master of Public Health. Directors Kylie Belling and Karen Bryant. Pursuant to the rules of the organisation, a member must be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person and be recognised by the community as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person. FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

6 Committees and working groups In the past year FVPLS Victoria has had representation on a range of committees and forums which are convened by key service providers and stakeholders. Aboriginal Justice Forum, Koori Justice Unit, Department of Justice Victoria Aboriginal Justice Forum, Koori Women s Diversion Working Group Advisory Committee for the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services Children and Youth Issues Committee, Law Institute of Victoria Children s Court (Family Division) Koori Family Support Program Steering Committee Community Legal Education Working Group, Federation of Community Legal Centres Court Users Forum/Meetings (Mildura, Hamilton, Portland and Warrnambool) Domestic Violence Victoria Members Meetings Family Law Pathways Network (Barwon South West) Family Law System Reference Group, Attorney- General s Department Family Violence Court-based (Applicant) Lawyers Working Group, Federation of Community Legal Centres Family Violence Network (Dareton/Wentworth) Family Violence Reference Group (Hume) Family Violence Stakeholder Reference Group, Department of Justice Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group (Barwon South West) Integrated Family Violence Network (Mallee Mildura) Integrated Family Violence Regional Steering Committee Gippsland Koori Community Partnership Group, Heidelberg Magistrates Court Koori Court Reference Group (Warrnambool) Koori Family Violence Court Support Project Steering Committee Koori Family Violence Police Protocols Steering Committee Koori Policy Network Koori Youth Council (formerly Victorian Indigenous Youth Advisory Council) Legal Assistance Data Collection Working Group, Attorney-General s Department Legal Services Board Legal Practice Committee Local Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committees (Bairnsdale, Glenelg Shire [Portland], Warrnambool, Mildura and Robinvale) Lodjbra (Melbourne) Mallee District Aboriginal Services Welfare Reference Group NAMBUR (Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group Central Gippsland) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women s Alliance National Congress of Australia s First Peoples Justice Working Group National FVPLS Forum Northern Court Support Providers Network Northern Integrated Family Violence Strategic Network Policy Issues Working Group, Federation of Community Legal Centres Prevention of Violence against Women and Children Strategy Group (Great South Coast) Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committees (Gippsland, Barwon South West, Mildura, Mallee, Eastern and North West Metropolitan) Regional Integrated Family Violence Group (Barwon South West) Regional Victorian Indigenous Family Violence Media Awareness Campaign (Bairnsdale) Two Rivers Interagency Group (Dareton) United Nations Commission on the Status of Women CSW57 Victoria Police Aboriginal Policy Reference Committee Victorian Legal Assistance Forum Victorian Legal Assistance Forum Jurisdictional Forum Victorian Legal Assistance Forum Policy Network Working Group Violence against Women and Children Working Group, Federation of Community Legal Centres Yarra Family Violence Network 4 FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

7 Legal practice Over the last 12 months FVPLS Victoria has closely examined the way that we provide a culturally safe legal service. We understand that a culturally safe legal service is one in which all our clients are provided not only with a wrap around service to meet all their complex legal needs, but also a legal service of the highest quality. As a result our client numbers have grown. Over the year we have assisted almost 500 victims of family violence with over 650 files opened. FVPLS Victoria believes that a culturally safe practice includes providing clients with a seamless service to avoid creating additional barriers through referral processes or the fragmentation of their legal issues. This is particularly important as our clients present with multiple, complex, interrelated legal and non-legal issues. In this regard, lawyers have increased their focus on ensuring that civil law family violence related matters have been better identified and addressed. As a result there has been an increase in other civil law matters, up from 1% in to 4% in Assistance has been provided largely for debt-related issues and fines that have accumulated as a result of family violence. FVPLS Victoria legal staff have also played a significant role in helping redress culturally inappropriate behaviour in the legal system. We have emphasised the system s responsibility to ensure that various legislative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander guidelines are complied with. Staff have also taken the opportunity to communicate with relevant courts about issues specific to our clients. To this end we have met regularly over the last year with judicial and non-judicial Koori Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) list staff to discuss ways of improving the process for our clients. Ebony Hughes (left), paralegal support worker, with Anne Lenton, lawyer. Paula Stewart, program coordinator, with Meriki Onus, paralegal support worker. Metropolitan office FVPLS Victoria has been able to continue providing urban metropolitan services thanks to funding from Victoria Legal Aid for our family violence and family law solicitor positions. We were also very grateful to the Victorian Government for continuing to fund child protection and family violence lawyer positions. Together, these four lawyers assist metropolitan clients as well as clients residing in regions such as Swan Hill, Ballarat, Echuca and Bendigo, as these are areas not covered by the FVPLS program funded by the Commonwealth Attorney-General s Department. Regional offices Our regional offices located in Bairnsdale, Mildura and Warrnambool are staffed by a lawyer and paralegal support worker. These teams have identified key issues over the last year that have impacted on our clients and the community and have worked with other agencies to resolve these issues, some of which are explained below. In Mildura our staff raised concerns with Victoria Police that victims of family violence were not attending court following certain police applications for Family Violence Intervention Orders. The affected family members often did not want the violent family member permanently removed from the house but just wanted the other person to stop hurting and threatening them. A wallet-sized help card was developed to explain that Intervention Orders can be obtained which protect victims whilst allowing the other person to remain in the home. These cards are now available and are being handed out to victims by police and support workers. Gippsland has had a very high rate of child protection involvement. It was identified by the Bairnsdale office staff that many of our clients did not know what their rights were when child protection first became involved with their family. FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

8 This was particularly evident when a paralegal support worker attended a child protection first visit where the protective workers did not attend with a Lakidjeka worker, nor did they speak with our client regarding their legal right to have a Lakidjeka worker present. In response to these concerns, our Gippsland paralegal support worker met with the Lakidjeka unit and proposed accessible cards that could be provided to community members which outline what to do if child protection becomes involved with their families. Bairnsdale Lakidjeka workers now have the wallet card information in their work folders that they take when attending any home visits with child protection workers. The card is also available at the Bairnsdale Magistrates Court. In Warrnambool, workers identified that there was a need for better cultural awareness for health and allied workers who were often at the front line in identifying and responding to family violence. As a result, FVPLS Victoria rolled out a cultural awareness training program in Barwon South West which dealt with better ways of working with Aboriginal victims of family violence. Paralegal support workers Our paralegal support workers are the hub of our holistic model which is integral to providing a culturally safe service. They deal in the first instance with crisis issues such as housing, Centrelink, counselling and wider health issues of clients. They also provide important court support. It is well known that the poor experiences of Koori people within the justice system, the lack of trust in the courts to be culturally understanding, and the association of Children s Courts with fears of removal of children all continue to impact significantly on Aboriginal clients participation in court proceedings and their willingness to initiate legal action. We continue to place emphasis on court support as an essential part of our paralegal Megan Ross (left), family lawyer, with former staff member, Lucia Danek, lawyer. Sue Ball (centre), Legal Services Board, with staff members Margaret Portelli and Tania McKenna. support workers role. This emphasis has led to higher numbers of our clients attending and participating in the court system and consequently has translated to our clients obtaining better outcomes in their family law, Children s Court and Intervention Order proceedings. We are grateful to the Department of Human Services for their continued funding of two paralegal support worker positions in our Melbourne office. Areas of Law Assistance Paralegal Support 19.7% Family Law 2.7% Other 12.3% Child Protection 37% Counselling 20% Client Support 19.8% IVO 45.4% 43% VOCAT Court Support 6 FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

9 Case studies Legal practice case study 1 Sue contacted our service following a Sisters Day Out event where she had heard one of our lawyers speaking about victim s compensation. Sue had been in an on-again/off-again relationship with the father of her four children over the last 12 years. During that time she had been assaulted by him on many occasions although most of these she had felt too scared to report. A final assault and abduction had taken place six months before she had attended the Sisters Day Out event. Our lawyer organised an appointment at Sue s local library to talk to Sue as she no longer had a car and was unable to attend our office. Her car had been written off a year ago by her ex-partner. It quickly became evident that Sue was terrified of being in a house so far from public transport without a car. She was anxious that her ex-partner would locate her and harm her and the children when released from jail. Our lawyer initially made a claim with the Koori List of the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal for urgent assistance in relation to a motor vehicle. Our client was subsequently awarded a vehicle by the Tribunal which allowed her to feel safe and also able to get the children to their new schools. Sue was also experiencing significant financial hardship due to the conduct of her former partner. He had used the family s income (primarily Centrelink benefits) to support his ice addiction. Further, he had incurred numerous speeding and tollway infringements driving the vehicle that had been in Sue s name. There were other assorted fines that Sue had incurred on various occasions but had been unable to deal with due to the trauma of family violence. In total, Sue had incurred approximately $8,000 in fines. The lawyer was successful in applying to have some fines revoked and others withdrawn on the basis of representations in the Special Circumstances List. As her former partner s release date was approaching, the FVPLS Victoria paralegal support worker arranged with Sue to have her name added to the Victims Register so that she would be informed of her former partner s release date. In addition to this, the lawyer attended Melbourne Magistrates Court with Sue to apply for an Intervention Order so that it would be in place upon her ex-partner s release from prison. FVPLS Victoria s family lawyer also worked with Sue to draft a parenting plan so that the ex-partner s contact with the children could be formalised. At the final hearing of Sue s victim s compensation matter, a paralegal support worker attended as Sue was nervous about going to court. The paralegal support worker asked the barrister to further explain what the judge had determined when it became clear that Sue had been overwhelmed and had not taken in the barrister s information due to the formal and legalistic way it had been communicated to her. A significant award was made including costs for counselling and items to assist recovery, such as a family holiday, computers, education and health and fitness. The paralegal support worker under supervision of the lawyer arranged for all of the items to be claimed from the Tribunal ensuring that the holiday was able to be arranged quickly and that computers were delivered prior to the start of the children s new school year. FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

10 Legal practice case study 2 Kelly was referred to our service by Elizabeth Hoffman House Aboriginal Women s Service. She had been in a violent relationship with her partner, the father of her five children, for ten years. Kelly had issues with drugs and alcohol. Her partner spent time in custody for assaulting Kelly, in addition to serving time for other offences. When the partner was incarcerated Kelly showed a real willingness to address her issues with substance abuse and to end the cycle of violence. However, when her partner was not in custody his influence was such that she returned to being a victim of violence and her issues with drugs and alcohol also returned. After a particularly brutal assault in 2011 the Department of Human Services (DHS) removed the children from Kelly s care, placing them with their maternal aunt. To begin with Kelly was reluctant to engage with our service and was difficult to contact. She struggled to find the strength to stay away from her partner when he was not in custody. But as time went on and trust was established with her paralegal support worker and lawyer, she engaged more frequently and willingly allowed our service to assist. The paralegal support worker and lawyer arranged for Kelly to attend Winja Ulupna, where she spent three months in drug and alcohol rehabilitation. On her release the paralegal support worker was able to link her in with a community housing organisation to assist her with safe housing. The lawyer ensured that an Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making meeting with DHS occurred, and Kelly was supported by a paralegal support worker at this meeting. Subsequent to her leaving rehabilitation, her lawyer worked with both her and DHS to develop a plan which gradually re-introduced more regular access between Kelly and her children. Over time Kelly became willing to attend counselling, and a culturally appropriate private counsellor was secured close to where Kelly lived. Parenting courses were also identified by her paralegal support worker and assistance provided for Kelly to attend. The real turning point for Kelly and her children was when she was accepted to participate in the Restoration House program through the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA). At the New Model Conference, attended by Kelly and her lawyer, DHS praised the client for how she had turned her life around and how well she was caring for her children. DHS have now withdrawn their involvement. The paralegal support worker also assisted Kelly with preparing an application for the Victims Register, which kept Kelly updated on her ex-partner s release date. The ex-partner was recently released from prison. He immediately contacted Kelly and asked for contact with the children. She ignored his request and within six days he had found out where she lived, broken into her home and left a note threatening her and the children. Police responded after the incident and issued a Family Violence Safety Notice, however it did not protect Kelly s children. An FVPLS Victoria lawyer attended court and persuaded the police to amend the application and also made submissions to the court regarding the significant history of family violence. As a result, an indefinite Intervention Order was made including all of the children s names. An urgent application was filed by the lawyer to obtain safety-related items from the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal. New locks and a security system have now been fitted to Kelly s property. Names in case studies have been changed 8 FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

11 Community legal education The FVPLS Victoria community legal education (CLE) program continued to flourish and expand across Victoria in its second year of funding from the Legal Services Board. FVPLS Victoria staff delivered presentations and distributed legal information at a range of community events and forums, as well as identifying local regional needs and participating in the development of innovative and educative responses. New resources developed include a booklet version of 101 Ways to Stand Firm against Family Violence, a series of posters Family Violence is Everybody s Business, and wallet cards entitled Intervention Orders: A Guide to Staying Safe and What to do if Child Protection is Involved with Your Family. In Bairnsdale, a Koori women s group was initiated for local women who were clients of the service or who had previously participated in the Sisters Day Out, Dilly Bag and Sisters Retreat programs. Each workshop included lunch and various art and wellbeing activities. This program was generously supported by funding from Relationships Australia. In Warrnambool the White Envelope Project has continued to progress. This project aims to ensure that information on family violence pathways is provided to all Koori community members attending the South West Hospital, as well as enhancing responses by staff at the hospital to community members who may be experiencing violence. In the White Envelope Project Working Group developed new resources for distribution and two cultural awareness training programs were provided to community sector staff and health professionals. Training across the community sector to workers who assist Koori women experiencing violence was a key focus of the year. These sessions aimed to ensure that non-aboriginal organisations which provide first contact services to Aboriginal women were aware of their clients complex needs and the multiple barriers they faced in navigating pathways to safety and justice more broadly. The training assisted service providers to more appropriately respond to the needs of Aboriginal women experiencing violence; be better equipped to provide the necessary supports to overcome barriers to access; and to identify appropriate referral pathways and options. Services that participated in the program include drug and alcohol workers, family support services, family violence workers, hospital staff, crisis response workers, counsellors, maternal and child health FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

12 nurses, and many others. Intensive cultural awareness workshops were conducted across Melbourne, Bairnsdale and Warrnambool. FVPLS Victoria continued to work closely with other Aboriginal community-controlled agencies. Training on the legal areas relevant to family violence was provided to staff at Elizabeth Hoffman House, Mildura District Aboriginal Services, and Meminar Ngangg Gimba (a program supporting Aboriginal women and their children who are dealing with or escaping family violence in the Mallee). Presentations on family violence were also provided to a range of community groups including Aboriginal Elders groups and Aboriginal women s groups across Victoria. FVPLS Victoria would like to acknowledge the Legal Services Board which has extended funding of the CLE program until June We are very grateful for this continued support. Sisters Day Out and Dilly Bag workshop programs While the Commonwealth government cut early intervention and prevention funding to the FVPLS program funded areas in May 2012, FVPLS Victoria has secured funding from other sources to conduct workshops in some regions, including some not covered by Commonwealth FVPLS funding. With assistance from the Department of Human Services Community Initiative Fund, FVPLS Victoria was able to conduct Sisters Day Out workshops in Cranbourne and Melton, while funding from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) allowed us to run workshops in Shepparton and Ringwood. Funding from FaHCSIA was used to deliver a Dilly Bag workshop in Melton, and to also develop and run two additional workshops in a new format: Dilly Bag: The Journey. These workshops are an expansion of the Dilly Bag program created by Wanda Braybrook and Kelly Faldon. Each Dilly Bag: The Journey benefits up to 20 Koori women by providing a balance of personal development alongside relaxation activities that promote well-being and self esteem. Participants are provided with the opportunity to fully explore their strengths and potential for instigating meaningful life changes. The program also provides some respite from daily life stressors and the opportunity to develop strong supportive relationships with other participants. It directly targets many of the underlying causes of family violence. 10 FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

13 Policy and advocacy Law and justice policy must be informed by the perspectives of Aboriginal women and children, and reflect the needs of Aboriginal people who continue to experience disproportionately high levels of family violence and significant barriers to accessing justice. As an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation, working directly with Aboriginal women and children experiencing family violence, FVPLS Victoria is in a strong position to ensure the voices and the needs of victims/survivors are heard and respected. In recent years we have seen an unprecedented number of family violence related matters within the justice system. Evidence of this increase is the statement by Judge Paul Grant at our national conference that the child protection system was at crisis point in 2012 and that the Children s Court would not be able to manage if cases continued to increase in number and complexity. Applications for Family Violence Intervention Orders have risen by 41% since VOCAT also reported an increase of 19% in applications to the Koori List over the past year, with FVPLS Victoria representing many of these applicants. In 2010 FVPLS Victoria released a series of policy papers intended to provide a platform for change and a valuable reference point for policy and law makers. We can now report that significant progress has been achieved against 26 of our policy proposals and some progress has been made against 43 others. Highlights of sector reforms over the year include the advancement of the Aboriginal Justice Agreement (AJA3) to include a greater focus on Aboriginal women and culturally focused prison diversionary options, the introduction of a Victorian Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, and the introduction of Koori New Model Conferences in the Children s Court (Family Division). A key highlight of the year for FVPLS Victoria was hosting our inaugural National Conference, Standing Firm for Change: A Journey to Justice. This conference, featuring Aboriginal leaders from across Australia, identified a number of key themes, issues, and systemic areas for reform. The policy team has now developed a conference summary publication outlining these issues and reflecting the points of discussion. It is intended that this document will form the basis of a new policy position paper for FVPLS Victoria and provide us with a platform for future advocacy. FVPLS Victoria has continued to play a significant role in the National FVPLS Forum, established in early Policy support has been provided to the Forum s National Secretariat and the National Convenor, based at FVPLS Victoria, in the form of research, submissions and briefing papers. In particular the policy team has collated feedback on the FVPLS program evaluation framework and the NOUS Group Research and Needs Analysis Report and participated in discussions about proposed standards for nationally consistent data collection. The policy team has also contributed to the National FVPLS Forum s efforts to build its profile by briefing Forum members before meetings with politicians, government representatives and other key stakeholders. In addition, the policy team has supported the internal capacity building of FVPLS Victoria by developing a knowledge/database for legal needs assessment, planning and advocacy for the Victoriawide model and other strategic projects. This knowledge bank has included devising systems for the collection of legal case studies that demonstrate systemic disadvantage, as well as identifying and collating research and statistics to be used in a variety of forums. In particular the policy team has assisted in providing evidence to support a number of funding applications to retain current programs and expand our service delivery. This has been particularly important in light of the loss of funding from the Commonwealth for our early intervention and prevention programs. In the policy team developed a number of formal policy and law reform submissions to relevant inquiries and consultations. Submissions were made regarding the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Victorian Systemic Review of Family Violence Deaths, the Senate Inquiry into the Impact of Federal Court Increases, the Senate Inquiry to Investigate the Value of Justice Reinvestment, changes to solicitors conduct rules, and VCOSS and DHS service sector reform. FVPLS Victoria has successfully obtained a further year of funding from the William Buckland Foundation enabling the critical policy, advocacy and law reform work of the organisation to continue. FVPLS Victoria would like to acknowledge and thank the Buckland Foundation for their continued support of this important program. FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

14 FVPLS Victoria National Conference Standing Firm for Change: A Journey to Justice In conjunction with our ten year anniversary, in November 2012 FVPLS Victoria hosted our inaugural national conference Standing Firm for Change: A Journey to Justice. The conference was attended by a diverse group of Aboriginal community members, leaders, workers and policy makers. Our intention with this conference was to bridge the disconnect between those with grassroots experience and expertise of working with communities across Australia and the government departments that grant funding and make policy decisions. The conference aimed to provide a forum for Aboriginal community leaders to highlight community driven programs that work, and to raise awareness of the many systemic barriers that impede progress and place Aboriginal lives at risk. We also sought to provide an opportunity for discussion of advocacy tools and strategies at local, state, national and international levels. FVPLS Victoria will shortly be releasing a conference summary publication that captures the key themes and messages that emerged from the conference. The publication also includes proposals and actions that have been identified by FVPLS Victoria as appropriate responses to the issues raised and discussed. FVPLS Victoria would like to thank the approximately 250 people who attended and in particular the Aboriginal community members, leaders and thinkers. We hope that we can continue to strengthen established partnerships and advocate in a unified way to reduce disadvantage, and ultimately family violence, in Aboriginal communities. We would also like to thank the representatives of both State and Commonwealth Governments who participated in our conference. We hope that the knowledge gained can be used to mark the beginning of a new era for collaboration between Aboriginal communities and government at a state and national level. Conference speakers, Megan Davis, Professor of Law and Director, Indigenous Law Centre UNSW and Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner AHRC. Rashida Manjoo (left) UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, with CEO Antoinette Braybrook. 12 FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

15 Our staff * Management Team Chief Executive Officer Principal Lawyer Manager, Policy & Education Finance Manager Program Coordinator Antoinette Braybrook Jenni Smith Tania McKenna Maggie Barford Paula Stewart Melbourne Office Family Lawyer Megan Ross Child Protection Lawyer Anne Lenton Lawyers Amy Moore, Tracey Ryan Community Legal Education Worker Samantha (Sam) Nixon Paralegal Support Workers Debbie Edsall, Meriki Onus, Morgan Miller, Falea i Fesili Receptionist Nikahlia Braybrook Policy Development Officer Brooke McKail Workshop Program Project Officers Wanda Braybrook, Kelly Faldon Community Engagement Worker Aunty Pam Pedersen Executive Officer, National FVPLS Secretariat Margaret Portelli Gippsland Regional Office (Bairnsdale) Lawyer Paralegal Support Worker Avital Kamil Jeanette McKenzie Maggie Barford, finance manager, with CEO Antoinette Braybrook. Wanda Braybrook, project officer, with Jeanette McKenzie, paralegal support worker, Gippsland region. Mildura Office Lawyer Paralegal Support Worker Kim Avers, Kylie Breeze Barbara Egan Warrnambool Office Lawyer Vacant (filled August 2013) Paralegal Support Worker Sarah Bain Past staff Rose Blustein, Sophie Browne, Loren Days, Julia De Freitas Aiex, Maria Harelas, Ebony Hughes, Emily Long, Geraldine Mazorodze, Jess de Vries, Louise Price. Aunty Pam Pedersen, community engagement worker, with Sam Nixon, CLE worker. Casual/temporary staff Shelley Burchfield,, Michelle Conheady, Alainnah Calabro, Pam Firth, Karen Goedhart, Carmen King, Snezana Oroz, Bianca Vassilios, Helena Wilson. Volunteer support At present, FVPLS Victoria does not engage volunteers. * As at 30 June 2013 Tania McKenna, policy & education manager, Debbie Edsall, paralegal support worker with Jenni Smith, principal lawyer. FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

16 Acknowledgements We express our appreciation to the following: Our funding bodies Commonwealth Attorney-General s Department Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Department of Human Services, Victoria Department of Justice, Victoria Department of Planning and Community Development, Victoria (Office of Aboriginal Affairs) Legal Services Board, Victoria Relationships Australia Victoria Legal Aid Victoria Police William Buckland Foundation Pro bono and other supporters Herbert Smith Freehills for pro bono support Lander & Rogers for pro bono support National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women s Alliance for the contribution to enable CEO Antoinette Braybrook attend the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York in March 2013 Telstra Corporation through the Phone Card and Recharge Assistance Programs Victorian Law Foundation s Internship Program We once again acknowledge with appreciation our sponsors for our inaugural national conference, Standing Firm for Change: A Journey to Justice, held in November 2012: Australian Football League City of Melbourne Commonwealth Attorney-General s Department Department of Human Services, Victoria Lander & Rogers Telstra Corporation Consumer Affairs The Pratt Foundation Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission WA Minister for Health (Aboriginal Health Division) The Directors and staff of FVPLS Victoria express our appreciation to our external advisor, John Burke, who has continued to assist us in so many ways over a number of years, especially with our strategic planning process. 14 FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

17 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service (Victoria) Financial Report For the Year Ended 30 June 2013 FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

18 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service (Victoria) Directors Report Your directors submit the financial report of ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CORPORATION FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND LEGAL SERVICE (VICTORIA) for the financial year ended 30 June DIRECTORS Marion Hansen Karen Bryant Chairperson Damien Goodall Secretary Jaynaya Williams Deputy Chairperson Kylie Belling (resigned June 2013) PRINCIPAL ACTIVITIES The principal activities of the Corporation during the financial year were : Assistance to Aboriginal victims/survivors of family violence and sexual assault through Legal advice Counselling Information, referral and support Community education Policy and advocacy SIGNIFICANT CHANGES No significant change in the nature of these activities occurred during the year. OPERATING RESULT The operating surplus from ordinary activities amounted to $201,962 Signed in accordance with a resolution of the Directors Marion Hansen Karen Bryant Dated this 25th day of September FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

19 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service (Victoria) Income and Expenditure For Year Ended 30th June 2013 INCOME This Year Last Year Grant Income Comm Attorney Gen. Dept 1,326,421 1,652,517 Department of Justice 317, ,727 Victoria Legal Aid 179, ,232 FAHCSIA 100,000 95,000 Legal Service Board 130,520 0 Victoria Police 35,454 82,727 Department of Human Services 240, ,257 William Buckland Foundation 370, ,111 Other Grants 4,445 20,682 Grants brought forward 432, ,352 Grants carried forward -466, ,405 Total Grant Income 2,669,866 2,441,201 Other income 176,373 69,379 Interest Income 47,761 62,634 Total INCOME 2,894,000 2,573,214 EXPENSES STAFF COSTS Salaries 1,517,338 1,395,573 Staff Leave Provisions 19,282 33,716 Superannuation 132, ,815 Workcover 37,478 33,413 Leave Loading 16,327 16,578 Total STAFF COSTS 1,722,661 1,599,096 OPERATING EXPENSES Audit Fees 3,000 2,322 Advertising & Promotion 14,756 19,311 Bank Charges 2,825 1,346 Client Expenses 31,014 37,100 Consultants/Facilitators 34,484 61,975 Depreciation 10,659 21,230 EIPP expenses 71, ,595 Insurance 7,937 8,693 Motor vehicle expenses 53,129 54,612 Office furniture & Equipment 925 1,952 Postage & Courier 9,419 8,964 Recruitment 3,148 10,155 Rent & Occupancy Costs 236, ,034 Telephone/Fax/Internet 44,420 55,417 Training & Prof Development 20,456 12,548 CLE Expenses 25,210 14,243 IT Support 37,047 35,329 Library/Resources 7,803 4,294 Meetings/Conferences 164,455 31,659 Memberships/Subscriptions 6,992 6,102 Office Supplies 16,399 16,003 Practicising Certificates 3,467 3,578 Printing and copying 13,094 8,886 Project Expenses 9,474 20,000 R&M Equipment/replacement 2,993 3,039 Staff Costs 15,597 13,742 Travel Expenses 122,778 85,100 Total Operating Expenses 969, ,231 TOTAL EXPENSES 2,692,038 2,486,326 Net Surplus/(Deficit) 201,962 86,887 FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service (Victoria) Balance Sheet as at 30th June 2013 Assets This Year Last year Current Assets Total Cash at Bank 1,456,591 1,227,466 Petty Cash Float5 1,700 1,700 Cabcharge bond Bonds Hall Hire 0 2,000 Prepayments 19,132 40,733 Security Deposit Wellington St 28,000 28,000 Grants Receivable 0 5,000 Trade Debtors 16,683 33,020 VLA/ VOCAT Reimb Pending 13,744 17,575 Total Current Assets 1,536,350 1,355,994 Other Assets Office Furniture & Comp Equip 222, ,065 Provision for Depreciation -212, ,350 9,890 4,715 Motor Vehicles 155, ,821 Provision for Depreciation -29,852-77, ,375 78,924 Total Assets 1,671,615 1,439,633 Liabilities Current Liabilities Trade Creditors 50,593 71,751 Other Creditors 24,057 19,251 FVPLS Credit card 16,915 2,983 GST Liabilities 16,048 52,055 Payroll Liabilities 50,078 35,538 Staff LeaveProvisions 125, ,258 Total Current Liabilities 283, ,837 Grants in Advance AGD Grants Inc in Adv 209, ,899 DOJ Grants in Advance 129,745 21,160 VLA Grants in Advance 6,542 3,834 DHS Grants in Advance 31, ,131 Other Grants in Advance 202,539 59,363 Other Income in Advance 31,856 2,508 Total Grants in Advance 584, ,243 Total Liabilities 868, ,079 NET ASSETS 803, ,554 Equity Members Retained Earnings 601, ,667 Current Year Surplus/Deficit 201,962 86,887 TOTAL EQUITY 803, , FVPLS Victoria Annual Report

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