Community legal centres are seeing huge demand for their services during the COVID-19 crisis.
Federation of Community Legal Centres chief executive Serina McDuff said centres had reported big increases in people looking for assistance with family law, tenancy and employment issues.
“The Family Court has reported a 40 per cent increase in urgent applications since coronavirus hit and community legal centres are on the frontline of this issue with major increases reported across Melbourne,” she said.
“Many families are experiencing extreme stress, which can have a huge impact on relationships and the welfare of children.”
Springvale-Monash Legal Service has seen a 90 per cent jump in tenancy queries and 25 per cent spike in employment queries.
Peninsula Community Legal Centre has had a 20 per cent increase in family law and family violence queries.
Centres were also getting queries about lockdown fines from Victoria Police.
Ms McDuff said many of the people getting in touch had not needed legal advice in the past and didn’t know they could get free and independent advice in their own neighbourhood.
“Community legal centres have moved to remote services for the majority of their appointments, using telephone, email and video,” she said.
“Community lawyers are still making court appearances where courts haven’t yet moved to remote arrangements. All community legal centres are still open and ready to help.”
Ms McDuff urged people to contact their local community legal centre if they needed advice regarding issues such as family law, tenancy, employment, fines or family violence.