The Women’s Family Law Support Service (WFLSS), located at the Sydney Family Court, has made numerous requests for an extension of its state funding. However, the New South Wales government will stop funding the service at the end of this month.
WFLSS would need $120,000 per year to fund operational costs and a salary for one employee. Although run extensively by volunteers, one paid employee is crucial for the service.
The free support service provides women in the family court system with information about the court process and can help them arrange for security.
For women, the period during and immediately after separation is the time when their safety is most at risk.
The Women’s Family Law Support Service has been described as an “essential” service.
“Free legal support services make such a difference to so many people,” explains Sydney-based family lawyer Hayder Shkara.
“Family law proceedings can be complicated and highly stressful, even without fears for your own safety or the safety of your children.”
WFLSS started in 2007 as a joint initiative between the NSW Women’s Refuge Movement and the Sydney Family Court.
It has received ad hoc state government funding for the past three years.
“If the Women’s Family Law Support Service closed its doors, it would be harder for women to access support during an already dangerous time,” Mr Shkara believes.
The Commonwealth government has established a new support service, the Family Advocacy and Support Service (FASS), taking a similar role to that of WFLSS.
The Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Mark Speakman, described FASS as providing the same support as WFLSS.
However, Will Alstergren, the Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, supports the continuation of state funding for WFLSS.
Release ID: 88890559