The Australian Law Reform Commission’s Report number 69, Equality Before the Law: Justice for Women, was released in 1994. It examined the barriers for women in gaining access to legal services. A key recommendation was that each state and territory should be funded to have a Women’s Legal Service.
In response to this Report in 1995, a public meeting was organised and a steering committee was developed to lobby the Federal Government for Funding to establish a Women’s Legal Service in South Australia. After community lobbying, in October 1995 the steering committee was advised that its funding submission was successful. The Women’s Legal Service of (SA) was officially incorporated on the 4th October 1995.
In April 1996, the first service coordinator, Jessica Cocks commenced employment and the process of setting up the service began at 135 Waymouth Street, Adelaide.
On the 26th March 1997, the Women’s Legal Service of SA (WLSSA) was officially launched and opened by Robyn Layton AO QC. The first inaugural Annual General Meeting was also held on the 20th November 1997.
Women’s Legal Service (SA) received funding from ATSIC to establish a Family Violence Legal Unit.
Funding was received from the Federal Attorney General’s Department to establish the Rural Women’s Outreach Program.
Women’s Legal Service (SA) relocated to 19 Market Street, Adelaide.
In October 2000, the Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Unit and the Rural Women’s Outreach Program commenced service in Port Augusta.
In 2001, the Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Unit became incorporated as an independent body.
In June 2007, the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) outreach program commenced.
The program was a collaborative project between NPY Women’s Council and WLSSA to provide community legal education and legal advice and representation to Aboriginal women in the APY Lands. Women’s Legal Service (SA) has continued to have a presence on the APY Lands.
The Port Augusta office was closed on the 30th June 2010.
On the 24th February 2012, Women’s Legal Service (SA) moved to its then location at 151 Franklin Street, Adelaide. The office was officially opened by the then Senator the Hon. Penny Wong, then Minister for Finance & Deregulation.
In 2017, Women’s Legal Service (SA) received funding for a specialist Domestic Violence Unit located at Christies Beach. The Domestic Violence Unit was part of a pilot program designed to provide a more holistic legal response to victims of family violence. Clients were able to access services of a lawyer, family advocate and financial counsellor.
Women’s Legal Service (SA) once again moved to new premises, this time WLSSA is located at Level 7/45 Grenfell St, Adelaide.
Women’s Legal Service (SA) received funding for a specialist family violence financial counsellor.