As part of its domestic violence strategy, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has developed a three-year action plan. The blueprint comes after months of consultations with survivors, partners in the Violence against Women community and other legal and community service providers. During these consultations, LAO received a lot of feedback on how the organization can enhance its support for domestic violence clients.
“LAO recognizes that survivors are the experts in their own experience of domestic violence—and they have an important role to play in the development of solutions,” says Michelle Squires, who leads the domestic violence strategy. “Our action plan focuses on making it easier for people to get help from us—particularly on a local level, where we can work with community agencies to develop a support system that works together to help those who need it.”
Squires says that the action plan also looks at finding ways to ensure that those who help survivors are specifically trained on how they can best help.
To date, LAO has already made it easier for domestic abuse survivors to get help from a lawyer by expanding financial eligibility guidelines and prioritizing domestic violence clients for quicker service.
A plan for change
Over the next three years, LAO’s aim is to expand and improve services for domestic violence clients.
The plan will:
- make it easier for those subjected to domestic violence to access services
- improve the way LAO staff, community legal clinic staff, and lawyers provide help by training them to understand the complicated legal needs of domestic violence clients
- look at ways for LAO to work with community groups to provide the supports that don’t currently exist
By continuing to work in strong partnership with partners in the justice and social service sectors—and directly with those who are subjected to domestic violence—LAO’s strategy will help address the many connected legal issues that clients currently face.