Court support program wins $200,000 grant

Court Support 4 Kids, our award-winning program to enable children to be looked at court while their mothers secure intervention orders, has won a $200,000 grant from The William Buckland Foundation. The grant will allow McAuley Community Services for Women to evaluate the pioneering outreach program, as well as pursue the next steps in taking the program statewide.

“This funding recognises the vital importance of unimpeded access to legal support services for the many women affected by family violence,” said Ms Bignold.

The program, which started in 2014, has seen over 100 women obtain intervention orders in court. Without the program, many of the women would not have been able to go through the court process.

From August 2014 to July 2015, a social worker supported 393 children and young people three days a week. On average six women attended court alone each week with children and relied on the program to complete their intervention order. Young people aged 16, who are applying for an intervention order, have used the program as well.

Since its establishment at the Sunshine Magistrates Court, the Court Support 4 Kids program has started operating in conjunction with Bethany in Geelong. Interest from other family courts across Victoria is growing.

The program is an extension of McAuley’s children’s program that uses a range of methods to supportchildren to understand their experience and begin to express their feelings about what has happened to them and their family.

Court Support 4 Kids was initiated with assistance from the Barr Family Foundation, which was awarded Philanthropy Australia’s Gender-wise award in recognition of its leadership role in enabling the program to be established.

“Getting an intervention order in place before a woman leaves our services is always high on the agenda, as is support for children who have already been through enough and need space to play and be kids,” Ms Bignold said.

The Court Support 4 Kids program places children at the heart of what is a difficult time for women and children. We have developed the service using our expertise and experience of working with children and their mothers over many years.

As the program has shown so far, it is also plugging a significant gap in services. This includes enabling women to access critical safety information and risk assessments at court, as well as better legal support.