The Law and Advocacy Centre for Women (LACW) is a new kind of legal practice specifically for women who are in or at risk of entering the criminal justice system. LACW is committed to providing excellence in legal advice and representation. We provide a comprehensive, wrap-around service which includes preventative case management and engagement with therapeutic services.
LACW is the culmination of almost 20 years of combined legal experience, and an acute appreciation of the issues that bring women before the criminal justice system. This model draws on that experience and a growing body of research around legal best practice to craft a centre dedicated to long term and achievable solutions for women in the community.
We provide specialised representation for women in greater Melbourne in areas of criminal law, infringements and victims of crime assistance tribunal applications. We also provide in-house case management, to ensure the reasons for offending are addressed, and the risk of reoffending minimised. This assistance and early intervention addresses issues that frequently predicate poverty and criminal offending, such as financial stress, alcohol/drug issues, mental health and homelessness.
LACW provides these services free of charge to the majority of clients. Please contact us to find out more about our eligibility criteria.
LACW is a not-for-profit organisation with charitable status.
Our highest priority and commitment is the provision of excellence in advocacy for women. Your support will ensure the Centre can continue to grow. Read more >
Why have a criminal legal service for women?
- Women are the fastest growing demographic in Victoria’s prison population.
- Women are the highest represented demographic in poverty indicators.
- Women are at greatest risk of becoming impoverished due to their occupation of identified risk groups for poverty (for example, sole parents).
- Before LACW there was no specialised service for women in Victoria dealing with criminal matters.
- Many women share common pathways to offending. A specialised service for women that understands and addresses those issues is better placed to interrupt the narrative that sees these women enter and re-enter the criminal justice system.
What’s different about LACW?
- We provide a thorough assessment as part of our intake process that identifies both legal and non-legal needs.
- We provide intensive case management and on-site complementary services, such as counselling and housing support, to ensure that clients’ needs are met.
- We have close relationships with other allied service providers including arrangements for visiting professionals to assist our clients.
- We are free to those who cannot pay and for those at greatest risk of harm due to domestic violence, homelessness or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status.