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.

The Health Enhancing Legal Pathways (HELP) program is a health justice partnership with Barwon Health, Colac Area Health, Great Ocean Road Health and Hesse Rural Health.  These partnerships provide early intervention legal assistance to patients and clients experiencing disadvantage and/or people experiencing legal issues related to family violence in a trusted health setting.

A Health Justice Partnership is a collaboration that embed legal assistance services into health and well-being services to improve outcomes for individuals through direct service provision in places that they already access.

The HELP program was formed in response to a growing body of evidence that shows there are groups of people who are vulnerable to intersecting legal and health problems, but who are unlikely to turn to legal services for solutions.

Our first HELP Program pilot in 2021 was philanthropically funded by the Anthony Costa Foundation and focused on providing free legal support within Barwon Health, for patients at risk of, or experiencing family violence.

We have now received funding from the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety to expand the program into the Colac Otway and Surf Coast region.

To contact our HELP Program team, please email: or you can refer a client here.



Geordie Stapleton, Principal Lawyer, and Karen Todd, Social Work Manager at Barwon Health.


Our Deakin Student Legal Service is delivered in partnership with Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) for the Deakin University Student Association.

The Deakin Student Legal Service offers free legal advice, casework and legal education to all Deakin students. Appointments are available at the Waurn Ponds campus or by phone every week.  If you are a Deakin student needing free legal help you can request an appointment here.

For more information about the service contact us at

In July 2018, we partnered with Western Heights College to establish our school lawyer program. Since this time, we have embedded a lawyer 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 regularly delivers community legal education to school 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. For more information about our School Lawyer program contact us at

Since 2017, we have co-located a community lawyer at the Sexual Assault and Family Violence Centre (SAFVC) one day a week. This initiative aims to provide a holistic legal service for victim survivors of family violence in a therapeutic setting.

This model of providing legal assistance within a therapeutic environment has allowed us to offer a more extensive and deeper level of legal support to survivors of family violence in a setting that is both familiar and safe. Our community lawyer has assisted clients to address a range of family violence related legal problems including unpaid fines, tenancy, credit and debt, divorce and family law.

By taking a family violence lens to legal problems, our clients have expressed a reduced sense of anxiety when 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 us at

The Orange Door is an intake and referral service that assists 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 Orange Door in Geelong one day per week where we assist clients experiencing family violence with a range of legal issues. We also provide community workers from other agencies 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 us at

Our Law for Life Skills program is an early-intervention youth support program in partnership with Meli, providing place-based early intervention education, advice and support to at-risk young people at Meli’s Youth Hub and outreach sites in the Greater Geelong and Colac regions.

The Law for Life Skills program is funded for a two year period through the Commonwealth Government’s Safer Communities Fund, which emphasises preventing the underlying causes of crime and antisocial behaviour in our community. The program will assist at-risk young people in our region and help them build civil law life skills with a focus on topics that are often at the root of antisocial or criminal behaviour.

Our program co-locates our youth lawyers within Meli youth services division to provide early intervention legal advice and casework, secondary consultations, workforce capacity training for youth workers, and early intervention youth engagement activities helping to build legal life skills for young people.

To get in contact with our Law for Life Skills Program email: or you can refer a client here.

Our Legal Link Up program is a partnership with The Geelong Project at Meli and is aimed at addressing the civil law needs of young people engaged with the The Geelong Project.

The Geelong Project is a program which focuses on early intervention for young people at risk of disengaging from or leaving school, becoming homeless and entering the justice system. The program runs across seven secondary schools within our region.

Legal Link Up embeds tailored legal support during the initial screening points in The Geelong Project process.  Its primary objectives are to reduce crises through proactive early intervention and to build capacity of local youth workers to identify civil law issues and connect young people to legal assistance.

To get in touch with our Legal Link Up project, email or you can refer a client here.

Legal Link Up is funded by the Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner.

Our Cultura partnership aims to connect people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds to legal help by co-locating a lawyer within a service which they already attend.

A dedicated lawyer regularly visits Cultura to assist CALD community members understand their legal rights and provide legal help where required.  Education workshops are also 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 Cultura contact us at

Last modified on August 9th, 2023 at 9:13 pm

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