Women who are too fearful, or who are prevented from seeking legal advice at a solicitors’ office due to domestic violence, have been able to secretly access lawyers when they visit Royal Women’s Hospital in Victoria. Since its launch two years ago, the service has been so successful that there are moves to extend the scheme to other health centres. Vulnerable women have been able to access free legal advice under cover of attending medical appointments, with medical and legal professionals working together to take advantage of the opportunity to reach women who may not be able to openly see a lawyer:
“Some [women] had sought advice about child-support payments, should a woman leave an abusive relationship. Others needed help filling out applications for intervention orders, while some with abusive partners from other countries wanted to know how they could prevent their partners from moving their children overseas.”
The scheme also trains health professionals to detect and act on the “warning signs” of abuse.