A new community service to address the legal needs of the LGBTIQ community will open in St Kilda with a record-breaking grant from Victoria Law Foundation.
This significant funding will support the St Kilda Legal Service and Victorian AIDS Council to establish a specialised legal support service for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer. Valued at $111,000, this will be the largest single grant awarded by Victoria Law Foundation in its 50-year history.
The project aims to help address the lack of LGBTIQ-specific legal services in Victoria, despite the fact that LGBTIQ communities are disproportionately affected by pressures which increase the likelihood of mental health issues, misuse of alcohol and other drugs and homelessness. These can in turn create a higher need for legal assistance and this project aims to help address this gap.
‘There is strong evidence that legal problems and health and social challenges are often linked, and addressing both in a co-ordinated way can be much more effective. Putting legal services in community settings can also support people who might otherwise not seek out legal help, which can lead to the escalation of their problems,’ said Lynne Haultain, Executive Director of Victoria Law Foundation.
‘We know that many LGBTIQ people experience particular challenges related to discrimination and stigma. This can generate mistrust in the justice system. Specialised LGBTIQ legal services are one way to help people to feel comfortable accessing the legal help they need.
‘With Victoria and Australia slowly working towards equality for the LGBTIQ community, we’re thrilled to be able to support this project, which will help close that justice gap’, Ms Haultain said.
Victoria Law Foundation helps Victorians understand the law and their legal system. It is a not-for-profit organisation funded by the Victorian Legal Services Board Public Purpose Fund. The foundation’s grants program funds projects that help Victorians to understand the law. This year, General Grants were awarded to the value of $250,000.
Other grants went to:
- a project to prevent young people from engaging in vehicle-related crimes
- the development of resources to help people with intellectual disability to understand consent in intimate relationships
- a legal service coffee van to provide “pop-up” legal services to people living in some of Melbourne’s fastest growing suburbs.