Journal article

Health justice partnerships: initial insights into the delivery of an integrated health and legal service for youth in regional Victoria

Rural health Legal services Youth Victoria

Introduction: This article presents interim findings from research examining the implementation of a health justice partnership (HJP) focusing on the legal and health needs of regional young people. HJPs provide an innovative service model offering an integrated health and legal service for the community. HJPs are a relatively new service model for Australia, yet the program is well suited to meet the needs of particular population cohorts, including young people and those in regional locations experiencing complex legal issues. Methods: Funded by the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner, an HJP in partnership with three organisations was established in a large regional area in Victoria, Australia. Research is being conducted alongside the program to examine its impact on young people, and the implications on practice for staff in the partner organisations. Results: Findings provide preliminary support for the HJP model with a number of young people - from predominantly disadvantaged backgrounds and with varying legal issues - having been referred to the program in the first 6 months. Referrals were received from both partner agencies and external agencies. Initial client and staff survey responses indicate that the legal problem of the young people was affecting how they feel. Conclusions: While these findings provide preliminary support for the HJP further research will offer longer term insights about HJPs within the Australian context, particularly rural and regional settings. 

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