An illustration of BMCLC's family violence work

03 October 2019

Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre is committed to assisting victims of family violence. We work extensively within this space through our various services:

  • Duty lawyer assistance within the Family violence list at the Bacchus Marsh and Sunshine Magistrates’ Courts;
  • Two Health Justice Partnerships conducted at the Sunshine Hospital and Darley Maternal and Child Health Centre;
  • A bilingual lawyer outreaching at the Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association - providing legal assistance to the Vietnamese-speaking community; and
  • A specialist family violence clinic conducted every Wednesday at our Melton office.

As part of this work, we recently assisted a client experiencing family violence at our specialist clinic who attended a criminal law matter. What follows is a case study illustrating our work. Please be advised that it contains a very graphic description of physical violence and readers are asked to exercise discretion.

Our client, Ms. J, was experiencing significant and longstanding family violence at the hands of her husband. The parties had been together for over two decades and the relationship was marred by frequent and extreme physical violence.

During one of these physical altercations, Ms. J’s partner had his hands around her neck and applied such force that it drew blood. To fend him off, Ms. J kicked out at her partner. Ms. J was conveyed by ambulance to the hospital due to the nature and number of her injuries. Ms. J was subsequently charged with unlawful assault and unlawful assault by kicking.

Our community lawyer, Talia Tringali, identified this case as an instance of police misidentification of the primary aggressor in a family violence incident. 

Talia attended the Magistrates’ Court and made formal representations to Victoria Police for the discontinuation of the criminal prosecution – outlining the circumstances and context of the relationship and the conduct. This was ultimately successful and police withdrew the charges.

The family violence work that we do is varied and complex - reaching across multiple legal practice areas; community groups; and geographic regions. It is often compounded by our client's social, housing and economic problems. We consider this work to be of great importance such that we have assigned priority status to the following cohort: Women who are at risk and face multiple barriers in accessing services and who are experiencing a family breakdown.