LAO supports victims of domestic violence through new Safe Centre of Peel
Posted on: Friday, April 13, 2012
In November 2011, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) proudly joined forces with the Safe Centre of Peel. This innovative partnership provides seniors, other adults and children who have survived domestic violence and trauma with one-stop access to the many services they require.
“In crimes of violence, legal matters are usually just one concern among many,” says Thomas Kelsey, Legal Aid Ontario’s Director of Family Law Services, GTA Region. “Families that suffer violence, for instance, likely also need support for safety concerns, housing, income support and medical care. This initiative provides the people of Brampton with the holistic approach they need.”
Housed within Brampton’s William G. Davis Centre for Families, the centre has welcomed 215 victims of violence between the day it opened its doors on November 1, 2011 and the end of February 2012. The on-site LAO lawyers who work there every Monday support Ontario’s most vulnerable people. So far, they have provided 44 individuals – 25 in February alone – with free summary legal advice, representation, as well as support in court and for child custody and immigration issues.
In addition, the centre’s legal clinic staff (a collaborative of employees from South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario and the two Legal Clinics in Peel Region (Mississauga Community Legal Services and North Peel and Dufferin Community Legal Services), has provided free services between November 2011 and February 2012, including:
- intake and triage for people who need legal advice on immigration, family law and property law issues
- setting appointments for duty counsel
- informing people of legal services available to them
- referring clients to lawyers who can help
This is the second such partnership for LAO. Since Spring 2011, LAO has been participating in the Family Violence Project of Waterloo Region at Mosaic counselling+family services in Kitchener – Canada’s very first one-stop centre for victims of domestic violence.
A collaborative assistance approach to supporting our most vulnerable people is inspired by the success of the Family Justice Center, a pioneering initiative launched in San Diego in 2002 to increase efficiency and coordination among service providers.
The Safe Centre of Peel is also inspired by studies it conducted before it opened its doors. “We found that a family that has suffered domestic violence could require support from up to 18 different service agencies,” says LaRee Walters-Boadway, Director of the Safe Centre of Peel. “We also found that services working with families that collaborate with one another could result in a measurable reduction in the number of women who die as a result of domestic violence.
“I like to think of the services available to victims of violence as a fishing net with holes in it,” she adds. “With this centre, people can work together to provide seamless services – and make the net tighter.”
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