RESTORE continued to operate in financial year (FY) 2021-22, providing advice to many clients served with various restraining orders.
Covid-19 had minimal impact on RESTORE because most RESTORE appointments were executed via telephone and email. Between 2021 and 2022, RESTORE assisted 31 clients in person and 94 clients via telephone.
However, it is unknown if COVID-19 impacted clients' matters because appointments were once-off.
In 2021, changes to RESTORE included RESTORE’s solicitor commencing a new role at the Perth Magistrates Court assisting respondents to FVROs listed for a shuttle conference.
As was the case in FY 2020-2021, RESTORE struggled to meet the demand with RESTORE’s limited resources. In 2021, the highest number of appointments was during March, April, May, and October 2021 with 140 clients. However, the total number of clients RESTORE assisted between July 2021 and June 2022 was 130.
RESTORE’s role in restraining order matters
Sussex Street is at the forefront of the provision of legal advice to both applicants and respondents of restraining order matters. The timely provision of legal advice to respondents is vital to legal mechanisms that exist help prevent family and domestic violence.
Advice and Casework Trends
During the FY's first half, RESTORE assisted fewer clients because of resource constraints.
During the second half of the financial year, there was no full-time RESTORE solicitor to assist respondents with their restraining order matters so RESTORE would assist clients on an ad hoc basis.
Many of the client’s requesting advice were at risk of homelessness or became homeless because of the restraining order. Clients RESTORE assisted from various socio-economic backgrounds and lacked the means for private legal representation. Therefore, a majority of RESTORE clients attended their hearings un-represented.
RESTORE assisted clients with the following restraining order matters:
Family violence Restraining Order
Violence restraining orders
Misconduct Conduct Restraining Orders
Many restraining orders prevent respondents from communicating with the person seeking to be protected unless they communicate through a legal practitioner. The clients not having the capacity to afford private legal representation, compounded their situation as follows:
Recovering their personal property
Recovery of property that is part of property settlement
Spending time with their children
Trying to resolve issues regarding property, finances, and children
Western Australia Police Project
In 2021, the Western Australia Police (WAPOL) and Sussex Street entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU's purpose was to facilitate liaison and collaboration between the WAPOL and Sussex Street to deliver RESTORE, including information sharing between WAPOL and Sussex Street. The MOU was also so Sussex Street could meet its evaluation requirements for its project with the WAPOL.
Lessons learnt from WAPOL Project
On the commencement of the WAPOL joint project, Sussex Street felt it was desirable to measure the following:
Relationships between participants and family
Participant's feelings of safety
Participant's tendency to offend or re-offend later
Relationships between participants and police
The following are the areas that Sussex Street identified as needing improvements:
Improved data capture
Recording and analysis methods
It was challenging to overcome some barriers around client confidentiality and privilege.
RESTORE to define details and collect and evaluate data
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