New funding for community legal centres

Rachna Muddagouni. Picture: Michael Copp

Legal support for Bacchus Marsh and Melton domestic violence victims will be boosted thanks to new state government funding.

Victoria Legal Aid and community legal centres will share $4.6 million to expand specialist services.

Comm-Unity Plus chief executive Rachna Muddagouni said the money would guarantee duty lawyers at Bacchus Marsh, while work with maternal child health nurses would also continue.

She said programs in antenatal wards at Sunshine and Melton hospitals would be expanded, addressing some recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, such as working with women who “often present with family violence issues”.

“This means that funding doesn’t come to an abrupt end,” Ms Muddagouni said. “It allows us to continue our work.”

Ms Muddagouni said Comm-Unity Plus is hopeful of enough funding to address shortfalls, including contributions from the forthcoming federal budget.

More than half a billion dollars was earmarked last week by the state government to support domestic violence services, including $330,000 for services working with communities from a non-English speaking background.

Victoria’s Attorney General Martin Pakula said the justice system needs to change the way it deals with family violence.