ARC Justice’s two legal programs, Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Center and Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre, work closely with Disaster Legal Help Victoria to provide practical information, legal advice and advocacy to severely affected regional communities.
The Goulburn Valley Community Legal Center accommodates flood-affected areas including Shepparton, Mooroopna, Seymour, Benalla and Cobram, while the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Center includes the Rochester and Echuca areas.
Some of the areas people may need help with include insurance claims, tenancy and tenant eviction issues due to flood-affected homes, labor rights issues if a business is closed due to flooding and fence disputes on flooded properties.
ARC Justice can also help with family law, domestic violence and child protection issues that may have been exacerbated due to flooding.
ARC Justice chief executive Damian Stock said several thousand insurance claims had already been filed, with many people ending up uninsured or facing litigation and insufficient settlement amounts.
“The current flood disaster is the worst many of our communities have ever experienced, and free legal services should be part of the essential support network that communities can access during these difficult months of response and recovery,” said Mr. .Stock.
“For some, the difficulty of accessing emergency payments or receiving eviction notices can feel like there is nowhere to turn, and cope with the impact of a natural disaster can cause stress and exacerbate family violence and family law issues.
Mr. Stock also said that when in doubt, seeking legal advice as a first step to understanding the options available would help achieve a better outcome.
“Having learned from the experience of community lawyers helping communities in NSW respond to flooding on several occasions in recent years, our lawyers will be there for the long haul as the impact of this disaster will be felt for months to come” , did he declare.
“Our connection with Disaster Legal Help Victoria ensures that ARC Justice can provide a ‘no wrong door’ approach to support services for practical advice or to identify the correct service the individual needs and provide specialist support.”
Access to free legal advice and information is available to all people within affected communities, with continued representation being means-tested and income-dependent.
Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Center can be contacted on (03) 5445 0909 and Goulburn Valley Community Legal Center on (03) 5831 0900, telephone lines are open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays.
For more information and support, visit www.arcjustice.org.au
People can also contact Disaster Legal Help Victoria for help on 1800 113 432, with lines open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.