Northern Community Legal Centre’s purpose is to ensure equal access to justice for all in Melbourne’s North West and one aspect of this is law reform, to advocate for the needs of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Melbourne’s North West.
Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System
The Royal Commission provides an opportunity for a wider conversation about mental health through community consultation which aims to accelerate improvements in access to mental health services, service navigation and models of care, looking at ways to end stigma and discrimination. Northern Community Legal Centre made a Formal Submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System and supports the government’s efforts to improve and expand the current framework.
Mental health problems are widespread within NCLC’s community. In Hume City Council, 15.9% of residents identify as having high or very high levels of psychological distress. A 2010 Victorian Health report revealed that mental health problems, along with neurological and sense disorders, are the ‘leading cause of burden in the Hume region.’ High proportions of people also experienced high or very high levels of psychological stress, coupled with high or very high levels of social isolation, in Merri-bek City Council.
Read our submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health
Northern Community Legal Centre made a submission to Productivity Commission inquiry into Mental Health, which aims to explore the social and economic benefits of improving mental health.
We focus our limited resources on the most vulnerable in our community, which includes people with mental health issues. Many of the clients we assist across a range of legal areas have a mental health illness as a backdrop to their legal problems. In our submission, we highlight various areas of concern for our priority clients, who include newly arrived and refugees, people with a mental illness, young people and victims/survivors of family violence. These cohorts present with compounding vulnerabilities which exacerbate their difficulty in accessing appropriate legal help. We identify the following considerations:
That the understanding of the justice system as outlined in the inquiry be broadened to include civil justice and that understandings obtained through the recent inquiries.
That there be specific Health Justice funding for lawyer’s in mental health programs.
That process’s in courts at the state and federal level incorporate better identification of people with mental illness including; questions on all forms; requirements on judicial staff to identify if a person before the court whether in the civil or criminal jurisdiction has a mental illness and training of staff in better identifying and responding to people with a mental illness.
We recommend that funding agreements for other social services provide incentivisation to work with other services including community legal services to provide a wraparound service.
That the Legal Assistance sector funding through the National Partnership Agreement ensure a more specific focus on mental health and promotion of integrated service delivery with mental health services.
Read our submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry Submission Mental Health.
Parliamentary Inquiry into Homelessness in Victoria
Northern Community Legal Centre made a Formal Submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Homelessness in Victoria and supported the Victorian government’s efforts to address homelessness in Victoria.
We are committed to assisting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members our community. These are people who have much more limited access to legal assistance and include: Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders, people experiencing homelessness, people who have a diagnosed mental illness, refugees and the newly arrived, victims/survivors of family violence, and young people.
Our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan affirms our commitment to assisting clients who face multiple systemic barriers to justice. Ultimately, we see significant cross over between our priority clients and their homelessness experiences, namely that their homelessness has contributed to or has been exacerbated by their legal matter.
Read our submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Homelessness in Victoria.
Inquiry into Family, Domestic and Sexual Abuse
NCLC has provided a written submission to the Parliament of Australia: House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence. The findings of this inquiry will inform the next National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.
Our submission highlighted key findings from our project ‘Abused and Abandoned: Family Violence in the Australian Indian Community’ funded by the Victorian Legal Services Board. Drawing on our findings from casework to date, our submission highlighted the need for urgent systemic reform based upon our research into the experiences of Indian women in Australia, and the adequacy of our legal system to provide appropriate protections.
Read our submission to the House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs inquiry into family, domestic, and sexual violence.