Victoria’s first LGBTIQ Legal Service wins Law Institute Award

We are delighted to announce that the LGBTIQ Legal Service, a program of St Kilda Legal Service (SKLS), and Sam Elkin, SKLS LGBTIQ Outreach Lawyer, have won the 2019 Law Institute of Victoria Award for Community Lawyer/Organisation of the Year.

“This award is worthy recognition of Sam’s great work, the importance of having a funded, specialist LGBTIQ Legal Service in Victoria, and of the impact that the Service is having in only its first year of operation”, says Agata Wierzbowski, SKLS Executive Officer & Principal Lawyer.

“It’s a great honour, and an important opportunity to recognise that we must try new approaches to serve communities that have been subjected to stigma and discrimination by the justice system in the past” says Mx Elkin, on receiving this award.

The LGBTIQ Legal Service is the first of its kind in Victoria. It was established in May 2018, and is a health justice partnership between SKLS and Thorne Harbour Health. The Service provides safe and accessible legal assistance to people who identify as LGBTIQ across Victoria, trains other legal and non-legal workers on LGBTIQ inclusive practice, legal issues that impact on LGBTIQ communities, and undertakes law reform.

The Service has now assisted over 120 clients with complex matters involving discrimination, family violence, and criminal law. Of those clients, 50 % identified as having a mental health illness or disability and 16.5 % were experiencing homelessness.

The Service has also had great impact through its education of legal and community services sectors about the legal issues that LGBTIQ communities face. Since the Service started, we have seen a steady increase in the amount of other legal practices that want to do more to ensure that their organisations are offering a safe and inclusive service for both LGBTIQ clients and their staff.

The Service is funded by the largest single grant ever awarded by the Victoria Law Foundation together with funding from a private philanthropist. Funding for the service concludes in May 2020.

SKLS is incredibly proud of the work that Sam and their team are doing and the impact the LGBTIQ Legal Service is having.

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