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18 May 2016

Motion | Women’s Legal Service

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. J.S. Lee:

That this council—

1.Congratulates the Women’s Legal Service for celebrating its 20th anniversary in October 2015;

2. Acknowledges the significant work and commitment of the Women’s Legal Service in achieving justice for women, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and women from culturally, linguistically diverse background;

3. Highlights the collaborations and partnerships made throughout its history; and

4. Acknowledges the remarkable achievements by the Women’s Legal Service as a community legal centre for women.

(Continued from 13 April 2016.)

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 17:10 :03 ): I rise to support the Hon. Jing Lee’s motion in congratulating the Women’s Legal Service of South Australia on their 20th anniversary. I am a White Ribbon Ambassador. I have a deep interest in supporting organisations that are involved in assisting and improving the lives of women suffering in domestic violence situations. Given that 50 per cent of clients at the Women’s Legal Service are victims of family violence, it is fitting that we recognise the important work this organisation carries out for the community.

Many victims of domestic violence are financially dependent on their partner and would find it difficult to access legal services if they were not available through the Women’s Legal Service. The Parliament of Australia’s Library Research Paper entitled ‘Domestic, family and sexual violence in Australia: an overview of the issues’ states that, regardless of their prior economic circumstances, many women experience financial risk or poverty as a result of domestic violence. In the Women’s Legal Services of South Australia 2014-15 Annual Report, Penny, a family violence survivor, states:

I do not have the money to fight legally with my husband and have no one around me as support. I needed someone to give me a head start, WLSSA helped me to get the start I needed.

By providing free legal services to these women, the financial strain they are under is alleviated at a time when they are at a very difficult phase in their lives and must deal with the emotional scars caused by violence in their own homes.

The Women’s Legal Service helps provide assistance in a number of family legal matters that can assist in the improvement of their lives. Some of these family legal services involve advising on intervention orders, child protection and child support. I commend the Women’s Legal Service for their 20 years of service improving the lives of women and, particularly, victims of domestic violence in South Australia.

I would also like to recognise the volunteers who devote their time to the organisation. As a non-profit organisation, the Women’s Legal Service relies on funding from government and other organisations but, in particular, it relies on the dedicated time of volunteers. The 2014-15 report notes that, in that year alone, volunteers provided 5,928 hours of their time to the organisation.

The organisation would not be able to continue without the great work of these volunteers who devote their time to improve the lives of some of South Australia’s most vulnerable women. I commend this motion to the chamber and I congratulate the Women’s Legal Service of South Australia on 20 years of dedicated service to the women of South Australia.

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