Services Update – COVID-19 Response

The outbreak of COVID-19 continues to pose a significant health threat to people across the globe. As the nature of the outbreak changes, the response from relevant authorities is evolving accordingly.

BCLS will continue to provide legal help and support services to our community members as best we can.  Our clients, staff and volunteers are our priority, therefore, in line with the latest advice from government and health authorities, we wish to advise that we have made the following adjustments to our service delivery, effective Wednesday March 18 to Sunday April 12 inclusive:

  • Most of our services will be delivered by telephone, or video call where possible. This means that:
    • Community members who usually access our legal outreach services at Corio Community Health Centre, Norlane Child and Family Centre, Colac Area Health, Family Relationship Centre, The Orange Door (TOD) and Sexual Assault and Family Violence Centre (SAFVC) will instead be able to access legal assistance via phone advice or via video link instead of face to face appointments. Clients may attend SAFVC and TOD take the BCLS phone advice call.
    • Our drop-in clinics will be delivered by phone
    • Night service clinics will continue, but again will be delivered by phone
  • Our Deakin Legal Clinic and School Lawyer program will continue as normal but this may change by the end of the week.
  • Our social work program for family violence clients will be delivered by phone. In person session may be available on a case by case basis, and clients may be able to attend TOD to conduct the call.
  • If a client needs to attend a meeting to sign documents, these appointments will go ahead in person at our Belmont office, and will be staggered. On a case-by-case basis we may be able to attend an outreach location to arrange document signing, but we will be guided by our outreach partners and evolving advice from health authorities.
  • Our intervention order Duty Lawyer services at Geelong Magistrate’s Court and Colac Magistrate’s Court will continue as normal.
  • All community legal education and group sessions will be cancelled or postponed, and we are working to enable remote delivery of some sessions where possible.
  • We will attend all meetings and networks remotely via online platforms where possible and will not be attending meetings face to face.

We will be in contact you if you have an appointment booked.

We will be in regular contact with our partners to coordinate services and minimise disruption to our community.  Clients experiencing family violence, including elder abuse, will be our priority should we need to put in place additional measures in response to the changing situation.

If you are attending our office or an outreach location for an appointment we ask that you let us know if you are feeling unwell, you have been overseas in the last 30 days or are in close contact with someone who has been overseas in the last 30 days, you are in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days or you are a confirmed case of COVID-19.

‘Close contact’ is defined by DHHS as someone who has had at least 15 minutes of face-to-face contact with a confirmed case, or shared a closed space with someone for more than two hours with a confirmed case.

Any decisions regarding ours service post April 12 will take into account further developments and will be communicated in due course.

If you need help, please contact us on 1300 430 599 as normal and we’ll work with you to best support you to overcome your legal problem.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by these changes, please be assured that we have made this decision with the health and well-being of clients, staff and volunteers as our priority.

We will continue to keep you updated on any changes.  In the meantime, please stay safe and well. We look forward to getting back to normal in the future when it is deemed appropriate and risk-free.