Michelle Jones, Bev Lazarou, Alice Stiles and Alfred Swe – Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program

WDVCAP-1

By collaborating with key partners, we work to ensure that all women experiencing domestic violence are supported and empowered. Together we send a clear message: violence against women is never acceptable.

Michelle Jones is the manager of the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program (WDVCAP) within Legal Aid NSW. WDVCAP administers state government funding for 28 Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services operating in 114 local courts across NSW. These services work to ensure ‘women receive the best possible outcome’ during the sometimes difficult process of seeking legal protection from domestic violence through the justice system. The program helped over 22,000 women in 2013-14.

Michelle and her team are also playing a key role in the NSW government’s ‘It Stops Here Safer Pathway’ reforms. These were introduced in 2014 to improve the quality of responses to domestic violence across NSW.

Michelle and her team work with the NSW Police Force, local courts and legal, health, welfare and other services in the community to support and empower women and children experiencing domestic violence. The program is based on a commitment to integrated responses through collaboration with key partners.

Michelle firmly believes that it is her team’s expertise and dedication that has made the program the award-winning success that it is. The team’s strength lies in ‘ensuring that all of our decisions that affect women experiencing domestic violence are made from the ground up – we listen to women and to the services that support them. This is our approach to having input into shaping government policy.’ The team understands what is happening ‘on the ground’ and can therefore drive government policy in a direction which will achieve the best outcomes for clients. For Michelle, ‘every woman should be treated equally in the eyes of the law and should have the same rights as men, regardless of her circumstances.’

After graduating with degrees in community management and adult education from the University of Technology, Sydney, and years of experience managing community organisations, Michelle has applied her extensive management skills to ensure that government resources allocated for women experiencing domestic violence are efficiently administered throughout NSW, and that funded services provide women with effective support. She works closely with Bev Lazarou, Alice Stiles, Alfred Swe and other team members Ina Gaha, Anita Friezer and Clarissa Peel. Bev, a veteran with 30 years’ experience in domestic violence, still feels heartened when she sees how the program assists women to escape violence and regain a sense of self.

With its wide range of skills, encompassing social work, court advocacy, strategic governance, change management, communication and strong financial acumen, the WDVCAP team works together to provide a strong voice for women in the continuing fight against domestic violence.

http://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/what-we-do/community-partnerships/womens-domestic-violence-court-advocacy-program

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