Victorian Legal Aid has called on the state government to deliver more funding for Horsham.A HORSHAM lawyer believes Wimmera residents are disadvantaged because of inadequate funding for legal assistance.
Victorian Legal Aid has called on the state government to put more money into services in the Wimmera in the 2016-17 state budget.
Legal Aid Horsham managing lawyer Julia Barling said Wimmera residents were missing out on access to many specialist courts and support that were available in Melbourne.
She said her clients were disadvantaged.
“Horsham needs a Koori Court, a drug court and bail support programs,” she said.
“A person remanded in custody in a metropolitan court would see eithera credit or bail support worker, who would look at various support services to help increase their chance of bail.
“Without these bail support programs, our clients are kept in custody.”
Ms Barling said being in custody could be an issue for young or vulnerable people, who werekept in an adult prison system on remand and exposed to potentially dangerous situations.
“Koori and drug courts use therapeutic and problem-solving approaches and have proved to be effective,” she said.
Ms Barling said the lack of a Koori Court was troubling becausemore than eight per cent of services provided in Horsham were to indigenous people.
“There isn’t a specialist family violence unit, and very limited emergency housing to assist families goingthrough crisis because of family violence,” she said.
“There aren’t any drug detox programs or residential drugrehabilitation programs, despite the Wimmera having one of the highest rates of ice usein thestate.”
Ms Barling said the County Court saton a circuit basis in the Wimmera,which createduncertainty and delay about thelisting of trials, appeals and pleas.
“County Court circuits create real difficulties,” she said.
“Sexual offences take priority because there are time limits inwhich they have to be heard.
“But if you have a matter like aggravated burglary or another serious offence,you could be waiting a very long time to be heard.
“This can affect wellbeing and mental health, through thestress and anxiety of having this undetermined case hanging your head without certainty to any outcome.”
Victorian Legal Aid is hoping for an additional $72 million annually from the state government.
Ms Barling is Victoria’s legal assistance was under funded compared with other states.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.