Case Study:

FVPLS support to Mary

An Indigenous Family Violence Prevention Legal Service is assisting Mary with a Care & Protection court matter. In addition, a support worker is providing help to Mary with her application for public housing, support in budgeting for healthy meals, and assistance with liaising with Centrelink.

The legal support is recorded as a Court/Tribunal Representation Service.

In relation to the non-legal support, how this is recorded will depend on:

1. Whether the work is ongoing – that is, has the Centre made an up-front commitment to support Mary throughout a particular non-legal process (eg help Mary get on Centrelink benefits) or whether the Centre has simply said they would perform one deliverable (eg fill out the Centrelink form), and

2. The Centre’s practice in providing support in relation to each of the non-legal issues – does the Centre have different specialist workers or practices for each specific non-legal issue, or is the support more generalist?

If the Centre uses specialist workers for a particular non-legal support  area – eg a financial counsellor for budgeting – then it would make sense to have a separate Ongoing Non-legal Support Service to record the work undertaken in that specialist area. This is simply for ease of case management.  

However,  if the Centre has a policy of using generalist support workers to provide legal clients with whichever  wrap-around non-legal services Mary might need while her legal matter is proceeding, then it is probably more practical from a case management point of view to simply open / record one Ongoing Non-Legal Support Service, with all the notes and activities recorded within that one Ongoing Service.

As a side-note: it is important for the Centre to ensure all non-legal support workers are clear on the line between a legal and a non-legal problem (see Glossary) and therefore legal and non-legal support. While non-legal support may include filling out applications for government services, appealing a decision of a government agency is likely to require legal assistance, as it involves the assertion of legal rights and information about legal processes.

So if the Centrelink or the Department of Housing make an adverse decision about Mary, the Centre should ensure Mary is provided with or has access to Legal Advice or other legal services as relevant.