Jacinta, at just 17 years old, has already survived a lifetime of violence. When she was 15, her baby was taken from her care. Her ex-partner told Jacinta that Child Safety removed the child, but that was a lie – he and his family had taken the baby.
He viciously assaulted her and convinced her community to ostracise her. She was left isolated and sleeping rough in Cairns, with no income, as her birth was never registered so she didn’t have enough ID to claim Centrelink.
With so many barriers, the last thing on Jacinta’s mind was seeking out a lawyer. But she did attend Wuchopperen Health Service (an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled service in Cairns), where the health staff connected her with the on-site LawRight lawyer, Donnella Mills, a respected member of the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Donnella arranged for Jacinta to get a birth certificate, a back payment from Centrelink, and enter a long term tenancy. We established the truth about the child’s removal and by connecting Jacinta with the Indigenous family violence legal service, she was reunited with her young daughter.
With the basics of housing, income and family resolved, Jacinta can begin her healing.
LawRight operates a Health Justice Partnership withWuchopperen Health Service in Cairns. LawRight helped 182 Indigenous clients with 274 complex legal issues in Cairns last year, to resolve housing, income and family violence problems.