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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 15(3)

Towards an integrated service response to the link between legal and health issues

Mary Anne Noone

Law School, Faculty of Law and Management, La Trobe University, Vic. 3086, Australia. Email: m.noone@latrobe.edu.au
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International research that confirms links between health issues and legal needs and the prevalence of non-legal services as the first port of call for assistance with legal problems has reinvigorated interest in providing integrated legal and health services. This article details research that indicates experiencing ‘justiciable events’ (problems for which there is a potential legal remedy) leads to stress, anxiety and deterioration in physical or mental health problems. Health consequences are identified for those that do not obtain appropriate and timely legal assistance. People often experience clusters of legal and non-legal problems that require a range of responses. For those that seek assistance with their justiciable event, most seek this assistance from non-legal sources. Within the legal aid sector, these research findings are considered compelling reasons to integrate legal, health and welfare services. However, the co-ordination and collocation of legal and non-legal services (particularly for disadvantaged communities) is not a straightforward solution. Drawing on the experience of several examples of integrated approaches in legal, health and welfare service delivery including the longstanding arrangements between the West Heidelberg Community Legal Service, which is collocated with Banyule Community Health, a range of challenges facing those agencies wishing to develop relationships to provide integrated legal, health and welfare services are identified.

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