What We Do
The Domestic and Family Violence Service was launched in 2022 and is a vital part of Illawarra Legal Centre’s work to support women who are victims of family violence and help them navigate the legal system.
Our team of solicitors and caseworkers provide a holistic service that is person-centred and trauma-informed within the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions.
This service assists women experiencing or fleeing family and domestic violence who have complex needs and multiple legal issues. Our goal is to deliver critical and time-sensitive legal supports to women. The legal and caseworker services provided include:
Legal advice in civil and family law matters relating to family and domestic violence including apprehended domestic violence orders, victims’ support, credit and debt issues and some other family law matters.
Assistance with drafting and filling out documents, as well as completing Legal Aid applications.
Illawarra Legal Centre strives in protecting the physical and mental health of victims. This is why we provide practical and emotional support. We also provide free over the phone advice, just call 4276 1939.
Providing internal referrals to other Illawarra Legal Centre supports such as; welfare rights, financial counselling and tenancy support.
Supported referrals to a wide range of external specialist and mainstream services (e.g. trauma counselling and emergency accommodation).
Community Legal Education – educating and empowering women to move forward in their lives while feeling protected, confident in seeking services and supported by the law.
What is Domestic & Family Violence?
Domestic and family violence includes any behaviour, in an intimate or family relationship, which is violent, threatening, coercive or controlling, causing a person to live in fear and to be made to do things against their will. This may involve having to significantly modify their behaviour in an attempt to mitigate threats to their safety and wellbeing or the safety and wellbeing of people they care about.
Domestic and family violence can happen to anyone and can take many forms eg. Coercive Control is a pattern of manipulation and intimidation that causes a victim to be scared and experience fear and isolation.
Domestic & family violence includes:
Physical abuse including hitting, punching, slapping, pulling hair, biting
Intimidation, making someone feel small
Emotional or psychological abuse including verbal abuse (humiliation, degradation and dehumanisation)
Threats to harm and/or causing harm to others and pets
Threats to damage property or actually damaging property
Coercive/Controlling behaviours (e.g. stopping someone from seeing family and friends)
Harassment, including by phone, text message, letters, on Facebook and other social media
Stalking – following, watching or waiting for someone
Financial abuse (e.g. taking money, withholding money, stopping someone from working)
Sexual assault and other abusive or coercive behaviours of a sexualised nature.
Domestic & family violence does not just happen between husbands and wives. It can happen in lots of close relationships, like:
Dafecto relationships (people who live together like husband and wife but are not married)
Same sex relationships
Relatives – including mothers, fathers, siblings, aunties, uncles, grandparents, cousins, children, step-children and step-parents, in-laws, kinship networks and community relationships
People who are or have been dating, even if casually and even if the relationship is not sexual
Perpetrators of family and domestic violence can vary in age and can be from any social-economic demographic, religion, culture and ethnicity. They can live in any geographic region and can have any profession.
How Can We Help?
If you and/or your children are experiencing domestic and family violence you may want help to learn your legal rights which may support you to escape your current situation.
DFV Service is a free and confidential legal service for all women in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions. Based in our Warrawong office we can also see women at a number of outreach locations.
Call 4276 1939 to make an appointment and find the outreach location nearest to you. We can also assist with referrals to support agencies to make sure you are safe.
Other Useful Links
NSW Domestic Violence Line provides counselling and referrals to women experiencing domestic and family violence on 1800 656 463 (Available 24/7)
Family Violence Law Help – A website by National Legal Aid for people affected by domestic and family violence. Funded by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.
Tenants’ Union of NSW has a number of factsheets relating to domestic violence and tenancies.
DV and Welfare Rights
The Welfare Rights Service provide information, and assistance in relation to Centrelink problems. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing family and domestic violence, you may have questions regarding income support from Centrelink.
The Centrelink payment may be different if you are no longer a member of a couple. You may also be entitled to additional payments, for example a crisis payment. This is a one off payment you may be eligible for if you have left your home because of family and domestic violence.
Our solicitors can provide free and confidential advice regarding all Centrelink decisions and can assist you lodge an appeal against a Centrelink decision to raise a debt. We can also advise you about exemptions from the activity test and exemptions from taking child support action.
DV and Tenancy Rights
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing family and domestic violence in the home where you rent you will most likely be asking yourself the question of whether to stay or leave.
Tenancy law in NSW has special provisions to make that choice even easier, however everyone’s situation is different and so it’s important that you understand all of your options before making that difficult decision
Staff at the Tenants Service take matters involving family and domestic violence very seriously and will take the time needed to understand the situation before giving you the advice you need.
If you need any assistance in this matter, please call the Tenants Service on 4274 3475.
Illawarra Legal Centre cannot give legal advice by email
Unfortunately we cannot give advice by email. We cannot protect any confidential information you send to us by email if we have not asked for that information.