A service built on care and respect

The La Trobe Law School is partnering with Prace on a Community Forms and Advocacy Assistance Service (FAAS) based in Reservoir, Melbourne

Criminology students work in the role of community support workers, assisting individuals to navigate the government and community service sector.

“We help members of the public with their paperwork and address obstacles, often on complex digital platforms,” says Paddy McVeigh, Chief Executive Officer of Prace. “The FAAS is designed to be available, accessible and adaptable – usually offered face-to-face, it was moved online during COVID-19 lockdowns.”

Criminology students work with directly with allocated clients to provide this support via a facilitated group placement. They also refer clients to other local services as further needs are identified. An on-site lawyer provides supervision and information in cases where there might be legal implications.

In turn, students put classroom learning into practice and gain skills and confidence through real world experience.

“During my placement I had the opportunity to advocate for a diverse range of clients, and assist them with filling out important legal, medical and governments forms,” says Bachelor of Criminology graduate, Shanna Calleja. “I learned that it was important to build rapport with clients, particularly when they have complex issues they need to resolve.”

“It was exciting to discover the positive impact I could make through my work at the FAAS,” adds Calleja. “I realised that I had a passion for case management and advocacy for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.”

Calleja is now working as a Family Services Case Worker at the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency.

“The FAAS is a win-win for everyone,” says McVeigh. “Clients leave content and cared for, we have a pipeline of professional and responsive support from students via placements, and the students gain valuable experience and exposure to diverse needs and backgrounds.”

“I’m proud to see the students doing research between appointments, filling gaps in their knowledge in anticipation of the next client, or to follow up on a previous client. Through this partnership, we can deliver a cost-effective service which embraces the community, and is built on care and respect.”

Find out more about the La Trobe Law School on the website and LinkedIn.