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Volunteer service which provides support for family violence victims under threat

A funding shortfall means a volunteer service which helps people caught up in family law issues, including domestic violence cases and custody disputes, will come to an end in June.

Court Network offers essential support to often distraught individuals at family courts around the country.

But the federal and state governments are bickering over who should pay the $130,000 needed to keep the service running, and neither seems willing to foot the bill.

In Queensland, Court Network services have already ceased operating.

President of the Court Network, Marcia Neave, who also chaired the Royal Commission into Family Violence, said government’s are undervaluing the work the network does.

“You do think they don’t understand the details of the system, and how the system works,” she told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“They’re the volunteers who are in the court, who help people when they come in looking bewildered, or upset, or angry.

“People come in really distraught, not knowing where to go, sometimes frightened because their partner is there and there’s been violence between them.

“The money is used for training and for support and supervision so they provide a good service.”

The federal government initially funded the service, but three years ago it pulled direct support.

For the last three years the Court Network has been funded as part of the Victorian Legal Aid budget, but recent cuts to the budget mean there is no longer sufficient funding for the service.

Ms Neave said it’s really the responsibility of the federal government to contribute funding.

“The family law system is a federal system, so it really should be funded by the federal government,” she said.

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