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Women’s Legal Service turns 25

Briefs

Cite as: (2006) 80(12) LIJ, p. 14


Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV) turned 25 in style last month, with more than 260 staff and guests celebrating at the Commonwealth Law Courts.

The service specialises in relationship breakdown and violence against women by providing face-to-face legal advice, court representation, telephone referral, community legal education and law reform activities.

WLSV chair Jennifer Dillon welcomed guests on 1 November and congratulated the service for assisting more than 23,000 disadvantaged women.

“In 1981, several far-sighted and generous-spirited women formed a collective to run a legal service specifically directed to women and the law,” Ms Dillon said.

“The need for the services of the organisation and the policy direction which we give remains as relevant and crucial to the promotion of women’s access to justice today as it did 25 years ago and regrettably, perhaps more so.”

Speaking at the celebrations, Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls said WLSV symbolised what was good about the law, both as a profession and as an instrument of change.

Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said in a written message: “Its proud history of delivering quality legal services demonstrates its flexibility and responsiveness to meeting the needs of women”.

WLSV stems from Women’s Legal Resource Group Inc, which began unfunded at the Women’s Liberation House in 1981.

Now, with more than 80 volunteers, WLSV receives funding from the federal Attorney-General’s Department, which is administered through Victoria Legal Aid’s community legal centre program.

WLSV manager of six years Gillian Dallwitz said in the community sector the 25th birthday was a landmark occasion.

“For a community organisation to survive and thrive with changing governments and other services amalgamating is a great achievement,” Ms Dallwitz said.

At the anniversary celebrations, Caloundra magistrate and former Queensland Chief Magistrate Di Fingleton spoke of career resilience for women in law and the need to always look ahead.

Ms Fingleton urged female lawyers to use their “feminist network” to continue the push for gender-equality in the profession, and equal access to the law.

For more information, contact WLSV on ph 9642 0877 or email justice@vicnet.net.au.

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