MIDLAS, a not-for-profit community legal centre which has been supporting victims and survivors of domestic violence for 35 years, has received a grant to support a ground-breaking early intervention response for Western Australia’s escalating family and domestic violence (FDV) crisis.
Midlas, which celebrated its 35th anniversary at Midland’s Crooked Spire recently, supported a region with one of the highest FDV rates in the state, yet received one of the lowest funding levels for the provision of legal services.
The $100,000 grant provides urgent resources to support the Midland Health Justice Partnership – a partnership with Midlas and St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospital (SJGMPPH).
As the first health partnership with a non-government funded community legal centre in Western Australia, the Midland health justice partnership will provide those experiencing or at risk of FDV with free and immediate access to legal support in a safe hospital setting.
To be launched early in 2024, the justice partnership will see Midlas’s legal team embedded within SJGMPPH to work closely with health professionals who care for FDV victims and survivors.
Midlas chief executive officer Gaelle Gouillou said the appalling rise in FDV related deaths and with Western Australian Police reporting a 35 per cent increase in family related offences in 2022, early intervention solutions were needed more than ever.
Ms Gouillou said with the potential to be replicated in other parts of WA, the initiative provided an evidence based early and primary prevention response to reduce escalating rates of FDV.
She said it had been consistently identified that people experiencing FDV were more likely to disclose abuse to health care providers.
“Last year alone our duty lawyer service at Midland Magistrate Court assisted 213 applicants in restraining order matters and there has been an 11 per cent increase on this in 2023.
The cost to the Western Australian health system for people admitted to hospital for assault related injuries caused by FDV was placed at $51.9 million between 2009-2015.
At SJGMPPH social workers responded to more than 100 emergency department patients who were victim survivors of FDV over a six month period in 2021-2022.
In addition, through their maternity and antenatal services, social workers support 25 to 30 patients at a time that are victim survivors of FDV.
SJGMPPH chief executive officer Paul Dyer, said the service will fill an identified societal gap and provide access to a vital resource.
“Health justice partnerships have a long history of delivering outcomes for the community across Australia. Our hospital is proud to be partnering with Midlas and congratulate them on this funding achievement. We very much look forward to the launch of the service in 2024 and to the positive impacts it will have on those experiencing FDV.”