VALS supports clients when they interact with the justice system. When a police notification (VPer) is received involving an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person in Victoria, VALS extends support to the individual. This support may initially take the form of a CSO visit, and subsequently support from one of our dedicated legal teams in Civil, Criminal or Family law.
VALS works with clients to support them during what is often a highly emotional time, providing culturally safe and holistic support to ensure that their needs are met beyond legal service provision alone, often working with other ACCOs and community organisations to ensure that the client is safe, supported and cared for. VALS staff are trained extensively in social work, community services and other associated disciplines. VPer notifications are consented referrals during for non-crisis incidents.
Our model, advocacy and representation
The VALS service provides advocacy and support to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that have been referred via emails by Victoria Police. Clients are referred and supported by their nearest ACCHO, along with Culturally appropriate housing, drug and alcohol treatment, community services and other relevant supports throughout Victoria. Clients receive information and support relating to material aid, financial aid, legal services, counselling services, physical/mental/sexual health, education/employment and training, and other relevant supports that are culturally relevant.
In this period, we advocated on behalf of our people with services such as Centrelink, Department of Justice and Community Safety, Family Support Services, Office of Housing, Department of Health and Human Services, drug and alcohol treatments services, health and mental health practitioners and other relevant services and supports. We assess the needs of our clients that encompass legal, education, employment, housing, income, mental and physical health, as well as a range of other social issues. This work extends to client’s children, carers and spouses, with the aim of providing a holistic service that encompasses the family unit.
We continue to network and advocate for our clients’ needs, including identifying service gaps and highlighting funding opportunities and services to better support our clients.