Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 16, 2022


Women's Legal Service

The Hon. R.B. MARTIN (15:11): I feel like asking another question about that. My question is to the Attorney-General. Will the Attorney-General please inform the chamber about the funding that has been provided to the Women's Legal Service of South Australia to provide for additional face-to-face legal services in regional South Australia?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:11): I thank the honourable member for his question and his interest in this area. The Women's Legal Service is one of the many terrific community legal services here in SA that provide critical legal assistance that is free and accessible to women of South Australia, both locally and in remote areas, during what is often some of the most stressful periods of their life.

I am very pleased to have just announced that this government will be supporting the continuation and further expansion of that critical work by making sure that $1.66 million is provided to the Women's Legal Service to provide face-to-face service delivery in priority areas in the northern and southern regions of the state, based in Port Augusta and Mount Gambier.

The Women's Legal Service currently provides services in these regions via videoconference and a fly-in fly-out basis. However, due to high rates of the experience of family and domestic violence in these areas, there is a compelling rationale for having the region being serviced with face-to-face support, which is often much more impactful. This is one of the many ways the government is acting on its commitment to support and empower women as they interact with the legal system.

I extend my appreciation to the Women's Legal Service and all their employees and their volunteers for the continuous hard work and service to support South Australian women as they navigate the legal system.

The Women's Legal Service this year are celebrating 25 years of service to the women of South Australia. Back in 1995, a steering committee was successful in lobbying the federal government for funding to establish the very first Women's Legal Service in South Australia, and the service we know today was officially incorporated on 4 October 1995.

The service established their Family Violence Legal Unit three years later, and in the following year the service continued to expand and help more women with a Rural Women's Outreach Program being established. In 2001, the service grew further to see the Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Unit become incorporated and operate as an independent body.

The work of the legal service in the space of our supporting Aboriginal women then continued in 2007 to help the establishment of the NPY women's outreach program. This program was a collaborative effort between the Women's Legal Service and the NPY Women's Council, with the aim of providing community legal education and legal advice to Aboriginal women throughout the NPY lands, which incorporates the APY lands, and areas of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. That legal presence on the lands continues today.

I look forward to continuing the work of and seeing the extraordinary achievements of the Women's Legal Service and hearing about the new face-to-face services that this funding will provide for, and thank the service once again for all the tremendous work that they do in supporting women in our community.