Attending court for family law matters is a stressful experience – but can be especially difficult for people who’ve experienced domestic violence.
“Court can be daunting, but it’s particularly hard knowing that your ex-partner will be there too, giving evidence,” said Anglicare’s Sharon Segger. “We want people to know that practical support is available to anyone facing that situation”.
The Family Advocacy Support Service (FASS) was established as part of the national plan to reduce violence against women and their children. In Tasmania, FASS is delivered by the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania which offers legal advice, information and referrals, with Anglicare providing social support to families.
“We can provide support before, during and after the court appearance,” said Sharon. “This includes help with safety planning and risk assessment, liaising with court staff and security staff, and connecting family members with other useful services such as housing assistance, or trauma counselling for children”.
“Just to have that support there, knowing that there’s someone you can debrief to along the way, is really valuable,” Sharon said. “There can be a lot of non-legal issues happening for people alongside the legal ones”.
FASS workers understand that people affected by domestic violence may be feeling isolated and unsure about the next steps to take.
FASS is a free, state-wide service available to anyone who has experienced family violence (either as victim or perpetrator). “Even if a person is not eligible for Legal Aid, they are still eligible for support from FASS,” Sharon said.