By Danielle Kutchel
Court Network has announced the operation of its new telephone service to help vulnerable and distressed court users navigate the court system in Victoria and Queensland.
The new service has been established to respond to the challenge of the Covid-19 situation, with many community and court services being forced to suspend face-to-face support to court users.
The new telephone service will enable the Court Network’s 500 volunteers to continue to assist thousands of people using the court system in these two states.
Maya Avdibegovic, the Court Network’s executive director, said that through the Covid-19 crisis courts and court users’ access to justice has been compromised and significantly impacted, in particular those experiencing family violence.
“Very quickly we realised that we needed to adapt and established a new service model to support all court users,” she explained.
“Setting up a free 1800 number was the ideal solution.
“Our trained Court Networkers are only a phone call away; they are there for victims, witnesses, accused, family and friends.”
She said that over the phone, Court Network staff are able to help the court user navigate the system, providing non-legal information and support.
“For many people, going to court can feel like it is the worst possible day in their life – a calm, gentle and informative voice is so powerful,” Ms Avdibegovic said.
The new telephone support line number is 1800 571 239. It is free and is available Monday to Friday between 9 – 5pm.
Court Network is a not-for-profit community organisation that has been funded in Victoria and Queensland to support court users through its hundreds of trained and experienced volunteers for 40 years.
Until the advent of the COVID19 situation, these volunteers operated through the courts in these states to assist any court user who may be distressed or seeking support as they attend court.
Government support for the service in both states was recently withdrawn.
A private donor stepped in to provide Court Network Victoria with the funding to continue their work, however the Network is currently also lobbying the government to restore its funding.