Our holistic Family Violence Service – Cassandra’s story

Not only can we assist a client to apply for and obtain a Family Violence Intervention Order but we can also help with associated legal problems such as fines, consumer debt and Centrelink.

Cassandra* is a single mum of two primary school aged children.

Cassandra called us a couple of days after making her application for an intervention order. She had been given our details by the Registrar at the Court.

We discussed the circumstances surrounding her application, reassured her that she would have legal representation, explained the possible outcomes of the upcoming hearing and outlined the safety measures available to her at Court. She was able to benefit from getting this information as early as possible so she had time to think about what she would and wouldn’t accept by way of resolution on the day. Cassandra was reassured that she could contact us at any time prior to her hearing with questions or concerns.

A few weeks later Cassandra attended an appointment with our lawyer co-located at the Sexual Assault and Family Violence Centre after being referred by her case worker who had done a ‘legal health check’. Conducting legal health checks is a training we provide to community workers so they can better identify any legal issues their client might have. During the appointment, our lawyer and Cassandra were able to identify a number of different legal issues associated with her experience of FV.

  1. Tenancy- She was behind on her rent and her landlord was threatening VCAT action to evict her. She had no money to cover the rent as her Centrelink payments were cut off and she was waiting for them to begin again. She was at risk of becoming homeless.
  2. Fines- Cassandra was paying off fines through instalments via Centrepay. This plan fell into arrears, as she again was not working and not receiving Centrelink payment.
  3. Family law- Cassandra had queries about family law matters relating to parenting arrangements and children’s orders.

Outcomes:

Our duty lawyer then represented Cassandra at the Geelong Magistrates’ Court. An unopposed final order was granted and we were able to advocate for a long order resulting in a no contact order for 10 years including the children.

An appointment was made for our client to attend our night service for some family law advice.

One of our lawyers was able to assist and act on behalf of Cassandra at her VCAT tenancy hearing matter. The rent arrears were dealt with and another FV service was able to assist our client with obtaining new housing.

Some of the outstanding fines she was paying were incurred by her ex-partner, the Respondent to the Intervention Order, who she did not nominate at the time due to risk of increased Family Violence.  Cassandra had incurred additional fines which led to her licence being suspended as a result of accumulating too many demerit points. We were able to assist her in lodging a Family Violence scheme application to Fines Victoria. This resulted in demerits points being removed and Cassandra being able to keep her license.

Finally, due to historical loan defaults Cassandra had issues with her credit report. We referred her to a financial counselling service who are assisting her with payments plans for her remaining fines and options to sort these matters out and move on with her life.

*This is not our client’s real name. Names and some details have been amended to protect our client’s privacy.