School children in Melbourne's outer west are now sharing their grounds with 28-year-old Vincent Shin, after a two year pilot program placed the family violence survivor at Grange P-12 College, as an in-house lawyer.
In an Australian first, Shin represents all students and their parents with any legal matters from public transport fines to domestic violence issues.
About $180,000 has been donated to the program, which placed the 28-year-old at the school last June. In one year Shin, who worked in the child protection system for three years during law school, has seen many cases of family violence and helped either the child or parent file an intervention order.
"Every region in Australia has a legal centre, which is a free legal service. Regardless of whether I'm at the school or not, these people need to see somebody. So it just makes sense that instead of them coming to us, we just come to them," Shin told The Huffington Post Australia.
"One of the objectives of this project is early intervention and prevention. And how better can you achieve that than by having a lawyer right there, right when it all happens?"
And Shin, who grew up with a violent father, has his own story which he not only tells the children at school, but told in a short documentary by media network PLGRM which you can watch here.
Founder and CEO of PLGRM Kristian Michail told The Huffington Post Australia "stories like Vincent's give us the courage to be real, to be vulnerable, to be human."
"The conversation of domestic violence has well and truly bolted from the gates now, and it is time that we as a community begin to transform the future for the next generation of families, marriages, children and leaders."
At the premiere on Wednesday night, Shin was joined by AFL Player Jimmy Bartel and Victoria's Commissioner for Children Liana Buchanan to speak on the panel -- to a room of 200 people -- about the family violence they've all experienced. Bartel broke his silence about growing up with a violent father, former AFL player Terry Bartel, in March.
The video airs in the same month the Victorian Government announced it will be spending more than half a billion dollars to combat family violence, which you can read all about here. The funding addresses 65 of the 200 recommendations made in the state's Royal Commission into Family Violence.
"Now is the time to talk about it and, if anything, I feel because there's so much already out there, I'll add my piece to help change the way people perceive family violence," Shin told HuffPost Australia.
Shin, who is still technically employed by West Justice Community Legal Centre, will leave the school once the pilot program ends in mid-2017 if philanthropic or state funding isn't put forward. But the 28-year-old thinks funding should be extended not only to his position, but to a position in every school around the country.
"You've got school counsellors, why not a school lawyer? It just makes sense. Why not have a lawyer to deal with it before it's at the foot of the courts and it's too late."Suggest a correction