Pathways out of the Justice System

LACW’s Pathways out of the Justice System program provides early intervention legal and case management support for women, in particular those who are not eligible for legal aid funding due to the nature of their charges or their lack of prior criminal history. Although they are not facing imprisonment, it is vital that these women are assisted in an early intervention capacity to interrupt the trajectory that would otherwise see them at risk of further criminalisation and eventual imprisonment. Women supported under this program include many who have been misidentified as the primary aggressor in family violence incidents.

Pathways out of the Justice System for women in regional Victoria

Funding from the Victorian Legal Services Board has enabled LACW to establish a pilot program in Swan Hill and Mildura providing legal advice and representation to women facing criminal charges who are otherwise ineligible for legal assistance. Additional funding has now provided scope to expand these services to other regional locations, with an emphasis on the areas identified as having the highest unmet legal and support needs.

Integrated Services and Holistic Support

LACW provides an integrated practice with the case management team working alongside lawyers to support clients access the services they need. LACW’s Case Management team is lead by a qualified Social Worker with many years of experience working with criminalised women. LACW also works in close collaboration with the Centre for Innovative Justice at RMIT University, hosting Social Work students who undertake practical and research placements focused on providing a best-practice model of integrated service delivery.

Women’s SupPORT Pathways Project

Providing opportunities for employment, volunteering, recreation and community connections

The SupPORT Pathways Project connects women who have lived experience of the criminal justice system with community football clubs throughout Melbourne. LACW is leading the project with support from the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA) and RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice (CIJ).

Clubs are provided with appropriate training and resources and participant’s lived experience is embedded in all aspects of the project.

Depending on participant interest and club needs, opportunities include:

  • Playing: all abilities are welcome, from beginners to experienced players
  • Volunteering: potential roles include help with training, pre-game ground preparation, match day support, canteen operation, organising social events.
  • Joining a committee: there are a lot of different tasks and skills needed to run a club eg. planning for player recruitment, membership development, fundraising, and improving club operations.
  • Learning to coach or umpire: training is required and can lead to regular paid roles. The SupPORT Pathways Project is made possible by funding from the Victorian Government’s Community Crime Prevention department.

Women Transforming Justice Project

From 2018-2020 LACW was involved in the Women Transforming Justice project (WTJ), a project overseen by the Fitzroy Legal Service Inc and developed and delivered in partnership with LACW and Flat Out Inc.  Funded by the Legal Services Board and Commissioner, WTJ provided an innovative and urgent response to the rising rates of women’s incarceration in Victoria. WTJ did so at both the individual and systemic level through the facilitation of a Women’s Leadership Group for women with lived experience of the criminal justice system, the development of an integrated Court Support Program for women, and advocacy for systemic reform. The project was evaluated by RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice, and their report can be accessed here.