Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service
The State Government has announced not-for-profit organisation Victim Support Service will deliver a critical new service to directly assist victims of domestic violence to navigate legal matters including Intervention Orders.
Establishing the Women's Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service was a commitment made in Taking A Stand - the State Government's response to the Coroner's findings in the Zahra Abrahimzadeh case.
Minister for the Status of Women Gail Gago said the free, confidential service would provide a greater level of support within the court system for victims of violence.
"This service will improve safety for women and their children by giving them much needed support to access the legal system, and ensure they are adequately represented," Ms Gago said.
"Legal officers will provide support and advocate on behalf of women who have difficulties applying for an Intervention Order, reporting a breach or raising safety concerns.
"Women who are victims of domestic violence are extremely vulnerable and often understanding and engaging in the legal process only adds to the stress and pressures they face.
"This service will now offer specialised legal support that aims to reduce their burden and increase the confidence of victims to take action to ensure their welfare."
In addition to providing direct services to women, the service will provide education and resources on intervention orders to the domestic violence sector in South Australia, increasing its capacity to advocate for women in these matters.
Victim Support Service CEO Julian Roffe said VSS would employ a team of lawyers to provide a range of service options including individual assessments, provision of information and specialised advice, representation where appropriate and tailored pathway plans.
Victim Support Service will also facilitate access to pro bono advice and representation for women who may require it.
"The Victim Support Service sees the devastating impact of domestic violence every day as we help women and children to cope and recover from this crime through our existing DV, counselling and court support services," Mr Roffe said.
"The new Women's DV Court Assistance service will add another crucial layer to our support framework, ensuring women who experience domestic and family violence are heard and responded to, increasing their safety and wellbeing by ensuring Intervention Orders are appropriate and effective."
The Court Assistance Service delivers on the State Government's commitments made in response to the Coroner's findings in the Zahra Abrahimzadeh case.
In 2010, Zialloh Abrahimzadeh murdered his estranged wife Zahra, in front of 300 bystanders at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
In the Abrahimzadeh case, the perpetrator's permanent intervention order was modified to permit him to attend cultural and religious functions on the basis he not approach or speak to his estranged wife.
The Coroner found that "it was that very outcome that he clearly desired bearing in mind that the …event at which he murdered Zahra was just such an occasion".
The Court Assistance Service will provide the professional resources to specifically address Intervention Order conditions, ensuring the victim's needs and safety concerns are adequately represented in the legal process.
Zahra Abrahimzadeh's son Arman has welcomed today's announcement and said the service would help to provide victims with the representation and protection they needed.
"It is great to see this initiative put in action. It is vital that appropriate and adequate legal support be provided to the victims of domestic violence, especially to the women and children experiencing difficulties applying for or amending an intervention order to better protect them.
"This will help reduce and hopefully eliminate amendments enforced upon their intervention order by the perpetrator to leave them more vulnerable," Arman said.
The service will be funded from the Victims of Crime fund.
From 1 July women can access the service from anywhere in South Australia using the freephone telephone number 1800 VICTIM (842846) or via the VSS website www.victimsa.org