Health Justice Partnership at Monash Health – Maternity Services, Social Work and Women’s Legal Services Victoria 

The Health Justice Partnership between Women’s Legal Service Victoria and Monash Health has been established to provide holistic support to women who attend Monash Health for antenatal care. Following a very competitive application process led by Carol Quayle, Social Work Manager and Jacinta Re, Head of Social Work and Spiritual Care, the Social Work Department in collaboration with the Women’s Legal Service Victoria, has successfully secured funding of $338,000. This funding will commence a two-year Health Justice Partnership with the Women’s Legal Service Victoria and will run until June 2022.  

The model combines legal, health, social work and financial counselling services to give women experiencing family violence the greatest opportunity to provide a safe and healthy environment for their children. This early intervention, integrated service model will enable women experiencing family violence during pregnancy to have access to accurate information and support services that enable them to remain with their babies once discharged.   

The partnership will work with women who are experiencing or have experienced family violence and are at risk of their newborn being placed in out of home care by Child Protection.  Due to the range of complex psychosocial issues being experienced many women do not have the means or are reluctant to engage lawyers to help make informed decisions, including their rights in the child protection process. They may also face additional vulnerabilities such as homelessness and substance abuse which can impact their ability to provide a safe environment for themselves and their children. This initiative aims to provide women with legal optionto help women and their babies stay safe and reduce the likelihood of legal intervention. 

Michael Splawa-Neyman, Social Work Manager and Colleen Williams, Maternity Services, Social Work Team leader are the key contacts for the partnership. They will lead the implementation in collaboration with Women’s Legal Service Victoria and key stakeholders.  The partnership is now live and a lawyer from the Women’s Legal Service Victoria will be based at Monash Medical Centre two days per week (currently, the service is provided remotely) and available from Monday to Friday.  

To make a referral, please liaise with Social Work or the Midwifery team.    

Health Justice Partnerships are designed to support populations that are particularly at risk of poor health and unmet legal needsWithin Monash Health, we have two other existing partnerships. One at Dandenong Hospital with InTouch. This service supports cultural and linguistically diverse consumers at Dandenong Hospital who have experienced family violence by referring them into the Health Justice Partnership to receive legal service support. The other is with Springvale Monash Legal Service who provide outreach services for those in need at our Dandenong and Cranbourne Community sites through South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (SECASA). The partnership between Springvale Monash Legal Service and SECASA celebrates its 25th year this year. You can contact SECASA on  9928 8741 and Springvale Monash Legal Service on 9545 7400. 


Approved by Katrina Nankervis

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