“The DVU has the aim of triaging clients to receive appropriate types and intensity of service according to their specific needs and capability,” the report said.
Legal Aid operates a total of 12 special units across the state, working other legal and human services to provide accessible services to people experiencing DFV.
This week an evaluation report of the program was published by the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW. The findings of the report indicated a quarter of clients who had been supported by the DVU received multiple types of services, which included assistance of a non-legal nature.
However, the evaluation also reflected stakeholder feedback that expressed concern about the capacity for the under-resourced DVU to meet the demand for services. The report recommended that expansion of the unit was a key matter to negotiate for the future.
Among those that accessed Legal Aid NSW’s DVU program were disadvantaged people, predominantly women, who were experiencing DFV. Over 69 per cent of DVU clients had dependants, with more than half speaking a main language other than English. The report also showed that two-thirds of clients were not employed and over 63 per cent were recipients of government benefits.
“The DVU was also seen as filling gaps in social work support and assistance to people experiencing DFV, often complementing the court support roles of the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCASs),” the report said.