Domestic and Family Violence Service
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 000 and ask for the police.
The Domestic and Family Violence Service (DFV Service) was launched in 2022 and is a vital part of Illawarra Legal Centre’s (ILC’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.
What do we do?
The 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 documents and Legal Aid applications
- Practical and emotional support
- Internal referrals to other ILC supports such as; welfare rights, financial counselling and tenancy support.
- Supported referrals to a wide range of external specialist and mainstream services (eg. 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 and 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 and 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 behaviour (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 behaviour of a sexualised nature.
Domestic and family violence does not just happen between husbands and wives. It can happen in lots of close relationships, like:
- Defacto 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
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 ways ILC can help
DV and Welfare Rights
The Welfare Rights Service is committed to supporting people who are affected by family and domestic violence by providing information, advice and help in relation to Centrelink problems. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing family and domestic violence, you may have questions regarding your rights to income support from Centrelink.
The Centrelink payment, and payment rate, 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. A crisis payment is a one off payment you may be eligible for if you have left your home because of family and domestic violence and have set up a new home, or plan to set up a new home. A crisis payment can also be paid if you remain in your own home after family and domestic violence and the person responsible has left. A claim for crisis payment must be lodged within 7 days of the event.
We can also assist you lodge an appeal against a Centrelink decision to raise a debt, particularly in circumstances where the debt arose from the inaccurate reporting of your former partner’s income. The law allows for debts to be waived where special circumstances exist within a case.
Our solicitors can provide free and confidential advice about crisis payments, payment types and rates, and appeals against Centrelink decisions. We can also advise you about exemptions from the activity test and exemptions from taking child support action. We understand that it is important to get expert and timely advice in family and domestic violence situations.
DV and Tenancy Rights
If you are 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 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.
Please call the Tenants Service on 4274 3475.
Other Useful links
NSW Domestic Violence Line provides counselling and referrals to women experiencing domestic and family violence on 1800 65 64 63 – Available 24/7.
1800RESPECT – National sexual assault and domestic and family violence counselling service. Call 1800 737 732 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Link2home is the statewide homelessness information and referral telephone service. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – 1800 152 152
Family Violence Law Help – Family Violence Law Help is a website by National Legal Aid for people affected by domestic and family violence. It has been funded by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.
Tenants’ Union of NSW has a number of factsheets relating to domestic violence and tenancies. Click here to be directed straight to their DV page.
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.