One-stop justice centre opens in Victoria

A new Justice Access Centre (JAC) and the University of Victoria (UVic) Law Centre officially opened their doors Thursday adjacent to the Victoria courthouse, bringing new and improved access to justice for south island families.

The Victoria JAC will serve as a one-stop centre for people seeking assistance with family and civil problems such as separation and divorce, housing, income assistance and employment disputes. For people pursuing court or tribunal actions, staff can help to navigate the justice system by providing information and simplifying the process. It is anticipated many clients will be vulnerable families.

The Government of B.C. has invested more than $1 million to develop the Justice Access Centre in Victoria, which is the third of its kind in B.C. – the others are located in Nanaimo and Vancouver.

What is unique about this JAC is its co-location with the University of Victoria Law Centre, which opens the door to new opportunities for collaboration on services to better assist area residents. Under the supervision of practising lawyers, Law Centre students provide free advice, assistance and representation to clients who could not otherwise afford a lawyer.

The creation of the Victoria Justice Access Centre builds on the knowledge and expertise gained through the Nanaimo and Vancouver Justice Access Centres. While services for the new centre will be gradually phased in, initially the centre will provide all the services of a family justice centre, such as family justice counselling, mediation, parent education and other resources for families experiencing problems.

Like its counterparts, the Victoria JAC has a number of legal and community relationships that include the Legal Services Society, which provides family legal advice, and the Access Pro Bono Society, which provides legal advice for other kinds of justice problems through legal clinics at the Victoria JAC