One stop for two services

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 23-Nov-2017

The team at Bendigo Community Health Services and Arc Justice. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

BENDIGO’s health and legal services are blazing a trail in regional Victoria, creating a partnership that allows vulnerable residents to access help for both challenges in one place.

In opening the new headquarters of Bendigo Community Health Services and Arc Justice this week, the services’ leaders referred to the high correlation between legal and health problems, particularly among the community’s most vulnerable people.

BCHS chief executive Kim Sykes said the people they needed to reach were the most hidden. 

“For many of them, they have good reason to be fearful of the legal system,” she said.

But legal issues, including problems with tenancy that is a speciality of Arc Justice, was known to be the cause of health issues including anxiety.

Sorting out one can sort out the other, and the reference agencies in Bendigo are now in the same building in Hargreaves Street, opposite Bendigo TAFE, and closer to the law courts and other welfare organisations.

BCHS chairman Geoff Bowyer said the co-location model is one “that will increasingly be taken up all around the state”.

“We are the first ones to do it,” he said.

Arc executive officer Hayley Mansfield said the health and justice partnership between the agencies had been going on for years, but  the proximity was welcome. The agency moved out of cramped quarters at the corner of Mitchell and Queen streets about three months ago.

She said the results of the partnership had been evaluated and had proven to be successful.


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