Women’s Legal Services: Demanding justice

In just over a week, laws will come into affect that will see improvements to the justice system for victims of domestic violence and their children.

The Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2011 will improve the framework of decision-making in family law matters to give priority to a child’s safety in determining what is in the best interests of the child and to make it easier for allegations of family violence and sexual abuse to be brought before the court.

There has been no greater advocate for these changes than the coalition of Women’s Legal Services Australia.

From a feminist perspective the WLS, fosters legal and social change to redress the inequalities that women experience. It exists to provide a voice for women and to promote access to justice, through legal services, law reform and community legal education, particularly for disadvantaged women.

Since the inquiry into the 2006 amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 started, the WLS has lobbied strongly for change through its Put Safety First in Family Law Campaign and its success will be felt by women and children around Australia from June 7. You can download the WLS guide to the new legislation here.

“We hope that these changes will make parenting arrangements more secure and less stressful for children whose parents have separated.” Helen Campbell, WLSNSW Executive Officer, said. “As the amendments have only just come into effect, we don’t know yet how they will work in practice.”

Come and hear more about this campaign and the implications the laws will have for women and children from WLS NSW Senior Solicitor, Carolyn Jones, who will be one of the key speakers at the next F Collective event on the 4th of June. Check out the details here.  

Now the WLS is looking to the next challenge. Everyday the WLS works with women who require assistance navigating the legal system well as well as working with women’s organisations and service providers who cannot address all of the injustices faced by women.

This makes WLS uniquely placed to identify gender bias and inequity in the law, policy and societal structures, and to seek to change it.

The next priorities for WLS NSW include developing a legal service for women who are sexually harrassed or discriminated against in the workplace. Only about 15% of women who have experienced workplace sexual harassment  ever report it or make a formal complaint. Access to confidential legal advice would support more women to stand up for their rights to safe and respectful workplaces.

WLS is also taking action to ensure that women who need protection from domestic violence can count on the police to respond promptly and appropriately. WLS will be helping women to make complaints about police who fail to respond, or act as if the victim is to blame, in dealing with domestic and family violence.

You can find out more about WLS policy and law reform work here or by contacting its Law Reform and Policy Coordinator.

WLS NSW takes on volunteers. If you would like to get involved you can check out how to apply and WLS’s selection criteria here.

2 Responses to “Women’s Legal Services: Demanding justice”
  1. This is a really great post, L, I learned things I had no idea about. Thanks.

  2. Nice post. Women and law is most important topic in whole world. Domestic violence is the main reason. This is great step to improve the law for domestic violence and children security. I like this post. Thanks for sharing.

    Professional Legal Network

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