BATTERED wives will get immediate help from the Legal Aid Department to obtain court injunctions against their husbands when a new service is introduced next month. Other assistance will also be available to the victims, since the department will be linked up with the police and the Social Welfare Department through a hotline. Policy and administration co-ordinator of the Legal Aid Department, Mr Andrew Leung Kin-pong, said the idea was to provide one-stop service for the victims. Mr Leung said his department wanted to help battered wives as part of its attempt to improve service to the public. In addition, the problem of domestic violence was highlighted recently in a Legco debate. The proposed improvement in service for battered wives was welcomed by social workers and legislative councillors yesterday. Mr Neal Clough who heads the family section of the Legal Aid Department said in future, battered wives could obtain legal aid services on the spot. ''Those in really urgent need can just walk in and meet our lawyers without making an advance booking,'' Mr Clough said. ''If the case is assessed by our lawyers as really urgent then services such as the application of a court injunction order will be immediately provided. The order can be obtained within a matter of hours.'' Immediate legal aid services would also be provided to clients referred by voluntary agencies. ''We hope to save time for those urgently in need of help who otherwise would have to wait for months if they go through the normal process as in other cases,'' Mr Clough said. ''By providing this extra service, we hope to screen in genuinely urgent cases which may be lost among ordinary cases.'' Legal aid clients usually have to pass a means test which can take weeks and even months. But in case of battered wives, Mr Clough said means tests would not block them from getting immediate legal aid. Mr Clough said if the victims were already receiving public assistance, they would not need to go through the means test. If they were not public assistance recipients, a quick in-house test could be arranged. Clients who did not qualify for legal aid would be asked to pay back the cost of the service. ''In this way, those genuinely in need of help will not be denied the services while public interest will be protected since those not qualified will eventually have to pay for the service,'' Mr Clough said. He advised those being abused to seek refuge first rather than relying on a court order to protect them. ''A court order can't stop somebody from being assaulted. ''They should get to a place of safety such as the Harmony House, refuge homes provided by the Social Welfare Department or homes of their relatives first before getting help from the court.'' Community education officer in charge of the Harmony House, Miss Phyllis Wong Mei-fung said the improved service would definitely help battered wives. ''If victims can have a walk-in service . . . they do not have to go through referral and bureaucratic procedures,'' Miss Wong said. ''It will also be good for the victims if there is better co-ordination among different departments providing the services.'' She hoped the Legal Aid Department would keep in close contact with the Harmony House on the proposed service. Legco member Mr Albert Chan Wai-yip also welcomed the improvement. But he queried whether other services such as rehousing for the victims and financial assistance could also be improved.