St Kilda Legal Service’s Case Studies

St Kilda Legal Service’s Case Studies

Bianca’s case study

‘Bianca’ lives with her eleven year-old son, who sees his father ‘Gerald’ each fortnight. During a changeover, there were threats made and Bianca applied for an intervention order, for herself and her son, against Gerald.

Gerald fought the application all the way. Bianca had to attend court three times and had to pay privately for representation for the contested hearing. After a ninety-minute hearing an intervention order was granted in favour of Bianca and the boy. Gerald immediately appealed the granting of the order in the County Court. Bianca had to pay again to prepare a defence to that. Next, Gerald, on behalf of the son, applied for an intervention order against Bianca. He omitted to tell the court about the existence of the order against him, and because the names were slightly different (this time it was the son’s name, not his), the court did not pick it up. Bianca assured us (and ultimately convinced the court) that his allegations were false, but when George first attended court to seek the order for his son without Bianca present, he was granted an interim order.

We stepped in and assisted Bianca to have the interim order revoked, on the basis that Gerald had not been honest with the court. Soon after that Gerald withdrew both his application for an intervention order on behalf of his son and also withdrew his appeal in the County Court.

*Bianca and Gerald’s names have been changed. ‘Bianca’ has given permission for us to publish this part of her story.


Natalie’s Case Study

When Natalie* first sought the assistance of our DOL, she had over $29,000 worth of outstanding infringement warrants. She had recently obtained transitional housing after being homeless for 9 years, living in her car for most of this time.

Shortly after this, she was stopped by Police and charged with driving while her licence was suspended. Twelve months ago, her licence had been suspended after VicRoads requested a medical certificate. She had not received the paperwork because she had been homeless.

Because she had a prior conviction for driving while suspended, the Police impounded her car for 30 days. This had a devastating impact on Natalie, as it meant she couldn’t travel to see her son, Shane*. Shane was ten years old and lived with his father in Geelong. He also had autism spectrum disorder and couldn’t cope with not seeing his mother three times each week like always.
Even after the 30 day impoundment period ended, Natalie wasn’t able to get her car back because she couldn’t afford to pay the fees required to have it released. Because of this, Natalie was soon issued a Notice of Intention to Deem Vehicle Abandoned.

Although this Notice provided 30 days for Natalie to take action, only four days remained when she actually received the Notice, as she was still having difficulties with her mail.
We were able to assist Natalie by negotiating an extension of the notice period. Having been granted an additional seven days, we were then able to apply to the Magistrates’ Court for an order requiring the vehicle to be released and the fees to be waived. To succeed, we needed to show that exceptional hardship was being experienced as a result of the vehicle being impounded. We based our argument not only on the hardship Natalie was experiencing, but also on the hardship caused to Shane. With the assistance of medical reports, we were able to focus on the emotional harm that separation from his mother had had on Shane.

The Court ultimately made orders requiring the release of Natalie’s vehicle and waiving of all applicable fees. Through our advocacy and assistance, we were able to support both Natalie and Shane, and secure the return of a vehicle which, for Natalie, had also been her home for a number of years.

* Natalie & Shane’s names have been changed and given permission given to publish an adaption of their story.