19 August 2020 – Volume 202

New LGBTIQ strategy can make our state fairer and safer

‘I was rejected from seeking refuge largely because of my male voice. Transgender people are statistically more likely to be victims of abuse’. Our client Abe shared his story of discrimination as part of our submission to the Victorian Government’s consultations on the state’s first LGBTIQ Strategy. 

We’re calling for priorities to improve inclusive services across all government bodies, services and agencies.  

COVID-19 presenting opportunities for criminal justice system reform

'We're still seeing too many people in custody on relatively minor charges, and they're ending up in custody more because of the issues in their lives than the offences they've committed.’ 

Our executive director of criminal law, Dan Nicholson spoke to the ABC about how the pandemic is presenting an opportunity to make the criminal justice system work more effectively.

Panel practitioner updates

We're making it easier to apply to join our panels

Today we are pleased to be launching a new suite of panel application forms and web content, with changes to panel eligibility criteria and assessment processes. These improvements aim to make it easier and more seamless for private practitioners to apply to our panels, and in doing so to increase access to justice for people with legal needs.

A new deed for all panel firms

In 2015, we responded to practitioner feedback by ceasing to restitute funds for grants which we later assessed as not meeting the funding guidelines. We have amended our Panel Deed and schedules to reflect changes in VLA’s grants compliance framework.

Introducing our Grants and Quality Assurance team

In 2019, we reviewed our Assignments, Quality Audits and Panels teams to improve our services. We consulted with many of our practice partners to examine options. As a result of these reviews, we identified that a new structure would better support our practice partners and the delivery of client focussed services.

On 1 September 2020, the three teams will come together as one – the Grants and Quality Assurance Team.

Changes to our fees under COVID-19

We have introduced new fees for criminal justice work as a result of COVID-19 and the court’s response to the pandemic. Details of the fees, including a quick reference guide are on our website.

Community news and notices

Huge opportunities to work with us at VLA!

We have three senior leadership roles in criminal law advertised: Program Managers for Youth Crime, Indictable Crime and Appeals & Strategic Litigation. Come work with us and help build a better, fairer criminal justice system.

Help for people on the Disability Support Pension

Social Security Rights Victoria has released DSP Help, a free online resource for Disability Support Pension applicants and the people who support them, aimed at helping them understand the DSP and what they can do to improve their chances of success.

Annual Castan Centre for Human Rights Law Conference

The annual Castan Centre conference is the leading human rights conference in Australia, providing a vital health check on the state of human rights in Australia and overseas. The conference was originally scheduled to be held on Friday 24 July, but due to COVID-19, will now be postponed and held on Friday 27 November.

If you have any community news that you would like included in this newsletter email editor@vla.vic.gov.au. Items will be published at the editor's discretion.

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This newsletter is authorised by Victoria Legal Aid, 570 Bourke Street Melbourne 3000.

Victoria Legal Aid operates on Aboriginal country throughout Victoria. We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and respect their continuing connections to land, sea and community.

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