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Funding helps women get free family law services

April 4, 2023 at 9:10 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

To help more low-income women and gender-diverse people access the free legal services they need to keep their families safe and healthy, the Province is providing $1 million in funding to Rise Women’s Legal Centre.

“Going through a separation or divorce can be very challenging and if you are low-income and experienced intimate partner violence, taking that step can seem incredibly daunting,” said Niki Sharma, Attorney General. “This funding will help make it easier for more women taking this critical step to get the supports they need.”

Across Canada there was an increase in intimate partner violence during the pandemic and gender-based violence remains prevalent in B.C. Often people are reluctant to pursue legal action against an abuser or leave an unhealthy relationship because they don’t know their legal rights or that there are free resources available.

Rise provides free in-person and virtual legal services for protection orders, divorce or separation, parenting arrangements, and spousal support to more than 1,700 women and gender-diverse people each year. They also provide training and support for other anti-violence and community support workers and conduct research to inform policy and systemic change in the family law system. Rise works with clients provincewide and collaborates with community partners in more than 30 communities.

“It’s imperative that survivors of gender-based violence have the necessary supports to help them through the emotional and psychological trauma that they have experienced,” said Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “Free legal and educational resources will also help prevent others from becoming victims in the future.”

The funding will support Rise initiatives such as:

  • recommendations that were outlined the report Creating Safety in BC Courts;
  • offering legal advice services and supports to family law advocates and support workers; and
  • assisting counsel in complex cases or conflicts of interest.

“Many women come to us during the worst time of their lives,” said Kim Hawkins, executive director, Rise Women’s Legal Centre. “This funding will help us help more women get the resolution and support they need to build a better life for themselves and their families.”

This funding supports ongoing work to increase access to family justice for victims of intimate partner violence and their families and make the province more equitable, fair and just by improving access to justice for everyone.  

Learn More:

For information about supports for victims of domestic violence, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/public-safety/domestic-violence

For more information about Rise Women’s Legal Centre, visit: https://womenslegalcentre.ca/

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