Free Legal Service at Wuchopperen

Free Legal Service at Wuchopperen

Wuchopperen Health Service Limited provides free weekly legal services to clients. The culturally appropriate, on - site service covers both civil and family law, and is provided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lawyers from community legal services LawRight and Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (QIFVLS).

QIFVLS visit Wuchopperen every second Tuesday and provide legal support and advice on domestic and family violence, family law, child protection, victims assist applications and sexual assault. They also offer victim support and full legal representation in court from the initial stages of proceedings up to and including hearings.

LawRight lawyer Donnella Mills, who provides advice on tenancy issues, fines, driving infringements, debt, the Public Trustee, Legal Aid and Centrelink concerns at Wuchopperen every Tuesday, said justice and health were intimately linked.

‘There is a clear link between justice and health,’ Ms Mills explained. ‘They collide in all sorts of ways – it could be the stress of an approaching court date affecting your blood pressure, ongoing vision issues which limit your capacity to respond to letters of demand, ill health and poverty impacting your ability to pay a fine, not knowing your rights when you live in an overcrowded household with broken plumbing and the landlord fails to fix the problem, a lifetime spent with chronic hearing problems so you haven’t been able to finish school or get a job, or just falling through the cracks due to mental health issues, substance abuse, poverty and homelessness.’

‘Another angle to this story is that health often drops to the bottom of the list when legal troubles arise. By offering this service, throwing people a legal lifeline, they can begin to look after their own health again, and the health of their families.’

‘Health cannot be viewed in isolation, and at Wuchopperen we are trying to address the complex factors which impact on people’s health. By providing an onsite, culturally appropriate legal service, we improve access, build capacity, expand social justice and hopefully, catch legal problems early.’

‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have poorer health, and higher rates of incarceration than other Australians. Wuchopperen chooses not to silo these issues. By providing a legal service in a trusted, community controlled health service setting, by recognising that health and justice are intimately linked, we have an opportunity to turn these problems around.’

QIFVLS Principal Legal Officer Thelma Schwartz described the connection between improving health and justice outcomes in the area of domestic and family violence.

‘It is clear that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are significantly more likely to be victims of domestic and family violence and are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised for assaults and 10 times more likely to die from assaults than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.’

‘In the area of domestic and family violence and improving health and justice outcomes, it is also important to understand that the impacts of domestic and family violence are varied and profound and the consequences can be d lifelong. Victims who have been exposed to domestic and family violence are at a greater risk of developing health problems such as depression, anxiety, stress, phobias, medical symptoms chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, vicarious trauma and risk of suicide.’

‘The provision of the legal services provided by both Law Right and QIFVLS at Wuchopperen is vital to providing a positive, holistic response to both health and justice concerns of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’

LawRight and QIFVLS services can be accessed at Wuchopperen Health Service Limited, 6 Moignard St, Manoora, Queensland 4870.

LawRight services are available every Tuesday from 9 am – 12 pm.

QIFVLS service are available every second Tuesday 9 am – 12 pm.

The service is open to new and existing Wuchopperen clients. Please call 07 4080 1000 to book an appointment. Transport services available.

Fast facts

90 % of incarcerated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth and adults in the Northern Territory have some hearing loss.

Prisoners have higher levels of mental health problems, risky alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, illicit drug use, chronic disease and communicable diseases than the general population.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are significantly over-represented in the prison system. Indigenous people represent approximately 2% of the general adult population, but on 30 June 2014, represented 27% of the prisoner population.

Indigenous Australians were imprisoned at an age-standardised rate of 1,857 per 100,000 of the adult population, 13 times that of the non-Indigenous population (144 per 100,000)

  • Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison entrants whose highest year of completed schooling was below Year 10 - 40 %
  • Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison dischargees whose highest year of completed schooling was below Year 10 - 47 %
  • Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison entrants who were homeless in the 4 weeks prior to imprisonment (including short-term and emergency accommodation) – 27 %
  • Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison entrants who had one or more of their parents/carers imprisoned while they were a child – 26 %
  • Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison entrants who have children who depend on them for their basic needs – 53 %
  • Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison entrants who have ever been told by a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist or nurse that they have a mental health disorder (including drug and alcohol abuse) – 43 %
  • Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison entrants, who, at reception, were referred to mental health services for observation and further assessment – 23 %
  • Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison entrants who have ever been told they have a chronic condition – 24 %
  • Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison entrants with limitations in activities or restrictions in education or employment – 25 %
  • Proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison entrants who report a high risk of alcohol-related harm in the last 12 months – 54 %

Image: LawRight lawyer Donnella Mills in front of Wuchopperen's History Wall

  • Posted 20 February, 2018


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