Wednesday 17th May saw the launch of the new Family Advocacy and Support Services (FASS) program. The program was launched by Federal Attorney-General Senator the Hon George Brandis QC at Parramatta Family Court. As well as the Attorney General, speakers included Brendan Thomas (Legal Aid NSW CEO), Kylie Beckhouse (Executive Director Legal Services, Family Law, at Legal Aid NSW), and Susan Smith (Coordinator of the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service at Redfern Legal Centre).
The FASS program is funded by the Federal government and administered by the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS) program in NSW. The funding is part of the $30 million allocated for front-line legal assistance and family law services, as part of the Australian government’s commitment to achieving change and ending violence against women and children. This funding was announced in October 2016.
FASS will operate at four family courts: Parramatta, Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle, with a worker in each court, plus two mobile workers based in Parramatta. FASS will operate on the framework of the WDVCAS program, where both legal support and social support are provided to people affected by domestic violence. Legal support will be provided by Legal Aid NSW.
Thanks to the FASS funding, WSCLC will employ three additional domestic violence support workers to work with our WDVCAS team. As well as these three new support workers, a new safe room will be provided in Parramatta Family Court.
The WSCLC Parramatta WDVCAS covers five police local area commands: Rosehill, Ryde, Parramatta, Holroyd and The Hills. We provide clients face-to-face support and assistance throughout the Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) mention at local court. Clients can also access a duty solicitor for legal assistance through the Domestic Violence Practitioner Scheme (DVPS) funded by Legal Aid.
Oloa Savaiinaea, Coordinator of WSCLC’s WDVCAS team commented, “The FASS program is a great initiative. People affected by domestic violence will be able to access similar services in the Family Court, as well as a safe room. Greater support for families affected by domestic violence will mean better outcomes for those families and for children.”