In 1996, after a long period of searching and finance negotiations, WLSQ made the significant decision to purchase a property on Ipswich Road, Annerley. The building has a history of women helping women having previously homed a hospice for war widows operated by a dedicated mother and daughter. The building has been a welcoming environment for women and a stable base for the organisation even in uncertain times.
In the early 2000’s WLSQ continued to advocate for clients and engage in state and federal law reform. The service began implementing technology eventually moving away from the volumes of paper-based booking diaries and intake forms to digital systems.
2011 was a particularly challenging year with the Queensland floods and funding pressures. Due to a change in funding contracts WLSQ was facing a significant reduction to service delivery – meaning women in need of help would be turned away due to service cuts. This marked the beginning of our coordinated campaigns of awareness raising of the impacts of domestic and family violence and the essential role of free legal and social work assistance in protecting women and children. The statewide campaign was successful and funding was granted.
The service has continued to supplement government funding through increased pro-bono, corporate and community support. We are extremely grateful that support has grown year on year across diverse sectors and communities.
This period also marked a time of service review, impact evaluation and planning. An independent evaluation found an alarming proportion of women reaching out for help could not be assisted through the then WLSQ systems. With the generous support from philanthropic foundations, a service evaluation was undertaken with the key recommendation to develop a Statewide Helpline for women with a particular focus on rural and regional pathways. A founding supporter program was established and our Statewide Helpline was launched within 18 months.
The Helpline transformed women’s access to justice through a triaging and escalation system linking in with all aspects of WLSQ service delivery (including the scheduling of appointments with our highly skilled volunteer lawyers located throughout Queensland).
2015 onwards brought a time of significant growth for WLSQ with successful funding of programs including Health Justice Partnerships (delivering legal assistance to women at risk in health care settings), Domestic Violence Duty Lawyer Services, outreach programs and High Risk Domestic Violence Units. In response, WLSQ established offices in Caboolture and the Gold Coast.
With staff and volunteer numbers increasing 2018, our Annerley location was in need of major remodelling. Significant support from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund and foundations including Clayton Utz and Hand Heart Pocket enabled WLSQ to undertake a major capital works project on the Annerley Queenslander.
Not long after this period saw the acquisition of a sister building across the road in Annerley. The building was remodelled to create confidential office spaces and meeting rooms, again with significant funding assistance, to support WLSQ service delivery.