A new partnership that aims to improve the health and legal outcomes through the early intervention of legal problems has commenced at Grampians Community Health.

The two year Health Justice Partnership between the Central Highlands Community Legal Centre and Grampians Community Health is supported by the Victorian Government through funding from the Department of Justice.

The Health Justice Partnership (HJP) program is based at the Stawell Health and Community Centre and will also attend Ararat and Horsham Grampians Community Health (GCH) venues.

The HJP allows a Lawyer to become immersed in the day to day functions of a Community Health Service, providing services to the clients of the Grampians Community Health.

CEO of Grampians Community Health Mr Greg Little said he had no hesitation when approached by the Central Highland Community Legal Centre (CHCLC) to join with them in the HJP.

“A call came out of the blue on a Saturday morning from Lisa Buckland, Centre Manager of the CHCLC, asking me if I wanted to partner in having a HJP Lawyer working at GCH for our community – I couldn’t say yes quick enough!” said Mr Little

Lisa Buckland said that the Central Highland Community Legal Centre was just as excited as Grampians Community Health in bringing this innovative program to the Grampians and Wimmera.

“The increased awareness of family violence has highlighted the need for greater access to local legal support for people from all walks of life in our community. This is about giving back to the western Victorian community a program that has worked well in other areas and it has been a gap in the west of the State” said Ms Buckland.

CHCLC and GCH have appointed Ms Bronte Maddaford, a lawyer with practical experience in Family Law, Family Violence, Dispute Resolution and Mental Health to the HJP position, and Bronte will work from Grampians Community Health four days a week.

Ms Buckland said that the HJP Lawyer would be complimentary to the local privately practicing Lawyers.

“The focus for the HJP is on people who are vulnerable or disadvantaged, often where there is a gap that Legal Aid isn’t able to cover,” said Ms Buckland.

“We know that if people are able to identify and take action to address their legal issues there is a likelihood of reducing health problems including stress and anxiety” added Ms Buckland.

Part of Ms Maddaford’s role will be providing training to GCH staff and the broader health sector on identifying the correct and timely legal assistance for people.

Mr Little said that often people will confide in their community health professional on some of the issues that are impacting on them, and until now our staff have had a gap in how they could assist people.

“The Grampians Community Health staff will now have the knowledge and the resource in Bronte Maddaford to be able to get in early and stop legal issues progressing before they have an adverse impact on the health and welfare of a person or family” said Mr Little.

Contact with the Health Justice Lawyer or any of Grampians Community Health’s services can be made by calling 03 53587400 or dropping into the Horsham, Ararat or Stawell GCH offices.

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