Emma House

Legal Program

Year of Impact for Women in the South West


The SAFV Centre, locally known as Emma House operates an in-house Community Legal Centre, funded by Victoria Legal Aid.

Our legal program assists women and children who are experiencing, or have experienced family violence and reside in South West Victoria.

We believe every woman has the right to live free from family violence, and should have access to legal support.  We prioritise women that face additional barriers to achieving justice, such as:

  • having no or low income, or having no access to money
  • having no secure housing, or being at risk of homelessness
  • being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • having English as a second language, or not being able to speak English
  • living with a disability, or caring for children with a disability
  • having limited access to other legal support

If we cannot assist, we will always try to find another service who might be able to help.

Services we provide:

Duty Lawyer Support at Court:

We provide a Duty Lawyer service at the Portland, Hamilton and Warrnambool Magistrate’s Court, on a weekly basis to assist with Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIO) matter’s.

Our Duty Lawyer can provide free advice, representation and referrals if you are the person applying for a Family Violence Intervention Order, or if you are listed as a protected person on a Police FVIO application.

Our lawyers will be on ‘duty’ at the following courts weekly, if you need assistance:

To access this service, you must advise the court staff when you arrive at court that you would like to use the Emma House Duty Lawyer.  It is best to turn up at the court when it opens, as it may be busy and you may have to wait.

If you need an interpreter, the court will organise one for you. It is best to let the court know you need an interpreter before your hearing. If you haven’t done this, tell the court staff as soon as you arrive at court.

Remote Hearing Option

If you have safety concerns about attending court, you can contact the relevant Magistrate’s Court prior to your hearing day to submit a request to appear remotely.  If your request is approved by the court, you will be provided with a Webex link to appear remotely on the day.

If you have safety concerns and your matter is being heard at the Warrnambool Magistrate’s Court, a Remote Hearing Support Service is available to you.  This provides support to you from a secure location away from the court building.  For more information on the Remote Hearing Support Service, visit the Magistrate’s Court website here or contact the Warrnambool Magistrate’s Court, prior to your hearing day.

More information:

Legal Advice

Our program runs a weekly legal clinic to provide one-off advice to you if you are experiencing family violence.  We offer one-off advice for the following matters:

  • parenting agreements
  • child protection
  • division of property after separation
  • disputes in relation to child support and spousal maintenance
  • partner Visa exemptions (family violence provisions)
  • airport watch list applications
  • Victims of Crime Assistance applications

Our clinic appointments can help you identify your legal issue/s, explain your legal rights and provide you with options or referral pathways for further assistance.

We accept referrals from The Orange Door, local community service provider’s, as well as self-referrals.

Self-referrals can be completed by calling (03) 5561 1934 and asking to speak to the legal program.

Legal clinic appointments can be held face-to-face or over the phone.


Our legal program may be able to assist you with representation for ongoing legal matters.

As a smaller Community Legal Centre, our capacity is limited and our eligibility criteria is designed to ensure we assist the most vulnerable in our community.

We may be able to assist you with ongoing casework for the following matters:

  • parenting agreements
  • child protection
  • division of property after separation
  • Family Dispute Resolution Service

Community Legal Education (CLE)

We aim to improve the understanding of gender-based violence in the community through community legal education.

We believe that preventing family violence starts with us.  Through education we can help promote gender equality, and change attitudes and unfair treatment of people, based on gender.

We provide age appropriate legal education to secondary school students and to organisations across South West Victoria.

If you would like to learn more about our Community Legal Education, or if you would like to arrange a presentation at your school or workplace, please contact us on (03) 5561 1934 or email legal@safvcentre.org.au.

When contacting us

When contacting our legal program it is important to know that you may not be able to speak with a lawyer immediately.  We are a busy service and our lawyers may be attending court, or attending to high risk matters which will always take priority.

Our administration staff cannot provide legal advice or give an opinion on what you should do to resolve your legal matter, they can however, book you an appointment with a lawyer or provide you with procedural information.

Legal Program