Victoria launches inaugural legal program dedicated to trans and gender-diverse community

St Kilda Legal Service and Transgender Victoria teamed up to establish the program

Victoria launches inaugural legal program dedicated to trans and gender-diverse community

Victoria has launched its inaugural legal program dedicated to the trans and gender-diverse community in the state.

The two-year program, christened the Roberta Perkins Law Project, was borne of a partnership between St Kilda Legal Service and Transgender Victoria. It is an extension of the LGBTIQ Legal Service, the St Kilda Legal Service said in a June press release.

The program was named for sociologist, writer and transgender rights and sex worker rights activist Roberta Perkins, who set up the first assistance centre for transgender people in the country. The Roberta Perkins Law Project began offering legal services for free to trans and gender-diverse people in late 2019.

“The demand for the service is strong, and it is clear the current team is only beginning to scratch the surface of the community’s legal needs,” the St Kilda Legal Service said.

The organisation said the Roberta Perkins Law Project seeks to employ additional staff such as peer support workers, lawyers and researchers with the provision of financial support. At present, the program is funded by the City of Melbourne.

The program also seeks to conduct training for the justice and legal service sector that promotes inclusivity, access to justice and equality.

“Comprehensive trans and gender-diverse inclusion training for all court staff, police, judiciary, lawyers and corrections staff is a key goal for the Roberta Perkins Law Project, and one that funding will help us achieve,” said program coordinator and lawyer Sam Elkin.

In addition, the program aims to amend the Equal Opportunity Act in order to “protect non-binary gender identities and intersex people. It also seeks to change corrections policies “to better meet the needs of transgender and diverse prisoners,” Elkin said.

The Roberta Perkins Law Project was officially launched on 15 June in an online event hosted by St Kilda Legal Service and Transgender Victoria.

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