Community Partnerships - Barwon Community Legal Service

Community Partnerships

Our partnerships with local community organisations support more people in our community to access legal assistance.

Read more about our fantastic community partnerships below.

Barwon Health Justice Partnership – HELP program

In July 2021, Barwon Community Legal Service joined forces with Barwon Health to create our region’s first Health Justice Partnership (HJP) due to the generous funding support from the Anthony Costa Foundation. HJP’s are a national model that embeds legal help into healthcare services and teams. They provide an early intervention point for people accessing health settings to identify and address their legal needs thereby improving their physical and mental wellbeing.

The Barwon HJP will be focussed on rolling out the Health Enhancing Legal Pathways (HELP) program. The 12-month pilot program will provide free on-site legal support within the University Hospital Geelong for women experiencing or at risk of family violence, as well as utilise telehealth options to connect patients to legal help. The program will be offered to women coming through Barwon Health’s Maternity and Paediatric Services.

For many women experiencing family violence there is often known (and unknown) legal issues that arise causing stress, ultimately impacting their health and wellbeing. The HELP program will embed a community lawyer within the health service providing women who are receiving antenatal care or accessing paediatric services with the opportunity to access legal support for family violence related issues. The HELP program could involve providing assistance with Family Violence Intervention Orders and advice on related legal issues such as parenting arrangements, child support, housing issues arising out of family violence, Centrelink, fines or debts, separation or divorce.

With the HELP program in place, social workers at Barwon Health will be able torefer clients directly to our onsite BCLS lawyer. Caleb Leitmanis, the Health Justice Partnership lawyer, will work alongside the Social Work team and Aboriginal Health Unit at Barwon Health. Caleb explains ‘Most people trust health professionals, whereby providing a responsive, flexible legal service within the health setting has the ability to increase women’s safety in accessing family violence legal support. The earlier that advice can be provided the better the legal and health outcomes’.

For information on the Health Justice Partnership and the HELP program, contact:

Caleb Leitmanis, (BCLS Lawyer) –
Peter Kelly (BCLS Project Coordinator –



Geordie Stapleton, left, Supervising Lawyer at Barwon Community Legal Service and Karren Todd the Social Work Manager at Barwon Health.


Our Deakin Student Legal Service (DSLS) is a service we run in partnership with Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) and the Deakin University Student Association.

Our DSLS offers FREE legal advice, casework and community legal education to all Deakin students. Appointments are available at both the Waterfront and Waurn Ponds campuses every week.  If you are a Deakin student needing free legal help you can request an appointment here.

For more information about the Deakin Student Legal Service contact Sam in our legal team.


In July 2018, we partnered with Western Heights College to create the School Lawyer Project. Since this time, our lawyer has been embedded within the Western Heights College wellbeing team, working alongside the school nurse, school chaplain, and school psychologist. Free legal help is available to students on a broad range of legal issues.

Our School Lawyer also regularly delivers community legal education to staff, students and their families on a range of legal topics including intervention orders, criminal law and sentencing, police powers and individual rights, sexting, cyberbullying, and employment law.

Our school lawyer is co-located onsite at Western Heights College two days per week for appointments and legal education sessions with students. For more information about our School Lawyer program contact Emma in our legal team.

Since 2017, we have co-located a community lawyer at the Sexual Assault and Family Violence Centre (SAFVC) as part of a pilot project to deliver a holistic legal service to victim survivors of family violence in a therapeutic setting.

This new model of providing legal assistance in a therapeutic environment has enabled us to provide a broader and deeper level of legal assistance to survivors of family violence in a familiar and safe place. Our community lawyer has assisted clients address a range of family violence related legal problems including unpaid fines, tenancy, credit and debt, divorce, and family law advice.

By taking a family violence lens to legal problems, our clients have reported that they felt less anxiety in seeking legal assistance and greater engagement in interactions with our lawyer. The model has also enabled a strong relationship to be forged between our organisation and SAFVC staff which has led to more effective secondary consultations and an increase in SAFVC staff’s understanding of the law.

For more information on our program see our Evaluation Report here.

For more information about this partnership contact Louise in our legal team.

The Orange Door is an intake and referral service that supports adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence to connect with the services they need to be safe and supported.

The Orange Door is part of the Victorian Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence and was established in Geelong in 2018.

Since July 2019 we have co-located a lawyer within the Barwon Orange Door where we assist clients experiencing family violence with a range of legal issues. We also provide community workers from other agencies who are based at the Orange Door with legal education and secondary consultations.

This innovative service model is making it easier for clients to access the support services they need and from a legal perspective, empowering other services to identify legal issues and make appropriate referrals before legal problems escalate.

For more information about our work with The Orange Door contact Lauren in our legal team.

Our lawyers regularly attend the Geelong Family Relationship Centre (FRC) to provide legal information sessions to recently separated parents as well as to provide Family Law advice to clients of the Family Relationship Centre.

Our information sessions provide an overview of the legal processes relating to separation and mediation,  including important information about the best interests of the child when deciding parenting arrangements. . This focus is aimed at preventing parents from having to take matters to court, thereby saving them money and time, as well as trying to preserve their relationship for the longer term.

Advice provided during appointments generally focus on issues of child contact, however we are also able to provide advice on child support, property division, divorce, intervention orders.  Our presence at the FRC makes it easier for clients to access legal help as they only need to attend one service to be able to discuss all of their issues.

For more information about our partnership with Geelong FRC contact our legal team.

In September 2020 we commenced a partnership with the City of Greater Geelong and The fOrT Youth Centre to provide legal help to young people to better understand and enforce their legal rights.

Our dedicated Youth Lawyer will provide legal help to young people as well as providing education workshops and secondary consultations to youth workers associated with The fOrT.

To learn more about this program contact Shane in our legal team.

Since September 2020 we have been running our Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities Legal Help service in partnership with Diversitat. The service aims to connect people from CALD backgrounds to legal help by co-locating a lawyer within a service which they already attend.

A dedicated lawyer will be available to help CALD community members understand their legal rights and provide legal help where required.  Education workshops will also be available to community workers to help them become legal issue spotters and build their capacity to refer clients to legal help.

For more information about our work with Diversitat, contact Victor in our legal team.

Last modified on May 19th, 2022 at 10:48 am

The content on this site is information only and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice please contact us.