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New toolkit for legal assistance sector

With You project releases toolkit for legal assistance organisations to better respond to client trauma.

Commonwealth Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus KC MP has launched a new toolkit for legal assistance organisations to better respond to client trauma.

The Trauma-Informed Organisational Toolkit provides practical guidance for legal assistance services on all aspects of trauma-informed, rights-based organisational design.

The Toolkit launched at Australian Parliament House, with clients with lived experience, carers, policymakers, researchers and sector leaders and frontline staff across Aboriginal legal services, Community Legal Centres, and Legal Aid Commissions across Australia.

The Toolkit guides legal services on trauma-informed and rights-based principles across all aspects of service design, organisational culture, leadership, and management. The With You Project is led by Legal Aid NSW, on behalf of National Legal Aid.

“Trauma is an everyday reality for most, if not all, of our clients. If we are to deliver effective services, we need to able to recognise and respond to clients with trauma histories,” said.

With You Project Manager Jennifer Chen. “This means understanding what a trauma response can look like; how it can impact memory and communication; providing legal advice in a way that can be heard, and building trust with our clients it has been undermined by a trauma history.”

The With You toolkit is based on a co-design approach, which means it has been designed alongside people with lived experience of mental ill-health to ensure they have a say in the services they are receiving.

With You will also deliver training for the legal assistance sector across the country - the first of its type designed with the help of those with experience of distressing encounters with the legal system. The training component is due to be delivered early 2024.

The training and toolkit is freely available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Community Legal Centres, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, and Legal Aid Commissions.

You can access the free toolkit here.