TORONTO, Oct. 8, 2014 /CNW/ - Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is investing $600,000 over three years in a partnership with Luke's Place, a centre devoted solely to improving the safety and experience of abused women and their children as they proceed through the family law process. This investment is to help improve access to justice for women who have experienced domestic violence.
Luke's Place will work with the new family law service centre in Oshawa to provide a safe, supportive site for low-income abused women.
"Women will receive holistic, wrap-around services based on Luke's Place successful clinic model of a lawyer/legal support worker team approach," says Carol Barkwell, Executive Director of Luke's Place. "This funding and the timing of the opening of the family law service centre provides a unique opportunity to enhance and test an innovative model which could have application across the province, and offers increased flexibility, safety and access to services for this vulnerable population."
Women who have experienced domestic violence will:
- have access to a staff lawyer who can provide legal advice and help with drafting family court documents
- be linked with a legal support worker or family court support worker based out of Luke's Place
- receive support from staff who understand domestic violence
- connect with other services offered at Luke's Place, including group support sessions, early information and safety planning sessions
This new initiative helps meet LAO's commitment to addressing the unmet legal needs of unrepresented family litigants and to improving services for vulnerable clients who have experienced domestic violence.
"Families in crisis often experience clusters of interrelated legal problems – and the staff at Luke's Place are especially aware of this," says John McCamus, Chair of LAO. "We are pleased to be working with Luke's Place in offering additional resources."
This partnership with Luke's Place is one of a number of family law projects that LAO is undertaking thanks to additional funding from the provincial government.
"I am pleased that Legal Aid Ontario is partnering with Luke's Place to strengthen vital supports for abused women and children in the family court system," said Madeleine Meilleur, Attorney General. "It is important that we continue to do everything we can to improve access to justice for all Ontarians across the justice sector."
LAO's family law strategy aims to reduce the number of unrepresented family litigants, provide an avenue for consensual dispute resolution, expand the early resolution service sector and provide holistic and integrated services.
Each year, LAO allocates approximately $70 million to help more than 125,000 low-income Ontarians through a wide range of family law services, including summary legal advice, mediation, assistance from lawyers at family law information centres and family law service centres, representation by private practice lawyers, and settlement conferences.
SOURCE: Legal Aid Ontario
For further information: For more information on this program: Carol Barkwell, Executive Director, Luke's Place Support & Resource Centre for Women & Children, Phone: 905-728-0978 ext. 224, [email protected]; Wendy Joy Bird, Director general, Durham-Frontenac, Phone: 705-743-5430 ext. 29, Email: [email protected]; Questions: Josephine Li, Communications advisor, Phone: 416-979-2352 ext. 6015, Email: [email protected]