Budget lifeline for Community Legal Centres

The National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) tonight welcomed an additional $39 million in the Federal Budget for Community Legal Centres (NACLC), reversing the 30% cut to Commonwealth funding for CLCs that was due to take effect on 1 July 2017.

“Tonight we welcome the additional funding. It provides a critical lifeline for all those people who rely on the help of CLCs every day and for our centres and communities across Australia,” said NACLC Chief Executive Officer Nassim Arrage.

“The reversal will mean people across Australia will get access to the legal help they were going to be denied from 1 July if the funding cliff went ahead.”

“We have worked hard over a long period of time to emphasise the vital services that CLCs provide and the devastating impact cuts would have had – today the Government has recognised this”.

“We also welcome an additional $3.4 million for six new domestic violence units at CLCs and Legal Aid Commissions”.

“There is still some uncertainty about the exact allocation of this new funding. Given the importance of certainty for our centres and communities, we look forward to receiving more detailed information”.

“This Budget addresses the immediate funding crisis for most CLCs, but there is more work to do”

“There is more work to do in ensuring increased, secure and long-term funding for the legal assistance sector. There is more work to do with Government towards a fairer society where anyone can receive legal help when they need it, not just when they can afford it”.

“CLCs are at the core of communities across Australia and almost every line in the Budget directly impacts a group of people we help”

“As a result, we are concerned about a number of measures in the Budget tonight, including in relation to social security that will have a negative impact on the people our centres help, contribute to the stresses on people that lead to legal problems, and to increased demand for our services”.

“We are also concerned about the lack of attention to the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system, and the ongoing failure to fund National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.”

We do however welcome a number of Budget measures, including the additional  $16.7 million funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, $1.2 million funding for knowmore as part of the National Redress Scheme establishment, and a number of family violence and family law initiatives.

To arrange an interview or for more information please contact:

Nassim Arrage, CEO NACLC, 0408 092 256
Amanda Alford, Director Policy and Advocacy NACLC, 0421 028 645

Media Release: Community Lawyers gather in face of funding cuts

Representatives from Community Legal Centres (CLCs) in every state and territory gathered in Sydney yesterday and today for crisis talks in the face of the looming 30% cut to Commonwealth funding for CLCs from 1 July 2017.

As part of the talks the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) with State and Territory CLC Associations convened an action in Belmore Park yesterday to call for the reversal of the funding cuts.

Hundreds of local community lawyers posed with gags over their mouths to symbolise the silencing effect funding cuts will have on centres and their clients, and many were dressed as “Lady Justice”.

“Yesterday our Advisory Council stood alongside local CLC representatives and the community to call on the Government to reverse the 30% funding cut,” said NACLC CEO Nassim Arrage.

“These cuts will have a devastating impact on people across Australia. We already turn away over 160,000 people every year and these cuts will mean even more people will miss out on the legal help they need.

“The community support at the event yesterday builds on strong support shown by the Senate with two motions this week as well as support from the Law Council and Law Societies, Law Deans, pro bono firms, churches and other community organisations,” said Mr Arrage.

“This support reflects the vital importance of the work of CLCs in communities across Australia and the devastating impact cuts will have.

“The upcoming Federal Budget represents the last formal opportunity for the Federal Government to reverse the cuts and invest in the sector before 1 July. The time for the Federal Government to act is now,” Mr Arrage said.

Photo credit to Mark Riboldi (5 photos): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1gg4tqzbdhter6q/AABec6UtyXJtvwEx4Tc0DVBua?dl=0

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Nassim Arrage: 0408 092 256
Amanda Alford: 0421 028 645

Media Release: Additional Family Violence funding welcome but inadequate

The National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) welcomes the announcement of an extra $30 million of Commonwealth funding over 3 years for legal assistance services to assist people experiencing family violence.

The Attorney-General George Brandis and Minister for Women Michaelia Cash made the announcement in Brisbane today. The $30 million is part of the extra $100 million allocated in last week’s Federal Budget to implement the Third Action Plan under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children.

‘We welcome any additional funding for legal assistance services, including Community Legal Centres (CLCs), Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) and Legal Aid Commissions (LACs), directed at addressing family violence and this is a positive step,’ NACLC National Spokesperson Daniel Stubbs said.

‘This additional funding adds to the $15 million provided to CLCs and LACs under the Women’s Safety Package and means that we will be able to continue to provide some of the crucial legal help women experiencing family violence need. We also welcome the Government’s commitment to consulting the sector about the best way to allocate the additional funding’.

‘However, we have a number of serious concerns about the funding’.

‘It is difficult to understand why the Government would provide CLCs with some share of $10 million per year as part of this funding, but during the same period cut CLCs by 30% nationally. It is tantamount to paying for a new roof on a house but removing the foundations at the same time’.

‘$10 million per year over three years is a totally inadequate amount for legal assistance services in the face of rising demand and funding cuts. CLCs alone are facing funding cuts of $34.83 million over three years from 1 July next year’.

‘The broader package of $100 million is also insufficient to address family and domestic violence more broadly. We know countless frontline services are facing funding cuts and uncertainty, and the Government’s stated commitment to addressing family violence isn’t backed up by adequate funding’.

‘It is also important to recognise that women experiencing family violence face a range of legal problems. So often CLCs help women with tenancy, debt, social security and employment law issues. It is vital that this is recognised in allocating the funding, and further highlights the importance of reversing the broader funding cuts to the sector’.

‘While we welcome the Government’s statement that the funding will encompass targeted assistance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children, some proportion of $10 million is just not enough. We know Aboriginal women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised and the crucial role that services like the FVPLS provide, and so additional and specific investment in these services is crucial’.

‘Overall, we look forward to working with the Government in the short-term to implement an appropriate allocation model for this one-off $30 million funding, but also more broadly to see a reversal of the looming funding cuts facing CLCs and adequate and sustainable long-term funding for the entire legal assistance sector,’ concluded Mr Stubbs.

To arrange an interview or for more information please contact:

Daniel Stubbs, National Spokesperson, 0437 253 543
Amanda Alford, Director Policy and Advocacy, 0421 028 645
Jo Scard, Media Adviser, 0457 725 953

Note to Editors

NACLC continues to call on the Federal Government to:

  1. Reverse the $12.1 million funding cut to Community Legal Centres nationally in 2017-2018, the $11.6 million cut in 2018-2019 and the $11.13 million cut in 2019-2020 (amounting to a $34.83 million cut over the period 2017-18 to 2019-2020) under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services.
  2. Implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendation from its Access to Justice Arrangements Inquiry and provide an immediate injection of $200 million per year into the legal assistance service sector, which should be shared between the Commonwealth (60%) and the States and Territories (40%). This should equate to at least an additional $24 million per year allocated to CLCs ($14.4 million p.a. Commonwealth and $9.6 million p.a. from States and Territories)
  3. Commit to implementing an appropriate process for determining adequate and sustainable longer-term funding contributions to the legal assistance sector by both Federal and State and Territory Governments, in consultation with the sector.

Media Alert: Community Law Australia spokesperson available for comment

National Association of Community Legal Centres Chair and Community Law Australia Spokesperson Rosslyn Monro is available for comment at Parliament House today from 9am to 4pm to provide commentary on the impact of funding cuts to legal assistance services announced in the Federal Budget last night and additional funding for family violence.

  • Rosslyn Monro available for comment at Parliament House from 9am-4pm
  • Alternatively, Ms Monro is available on 0407 633 084
  • Ms Monro can provide commentary on overall funding cuts, impact of cuts, role of legal assistance in responding to family violence and the additional funding for family violence, the Productivity Commission’s Access to Justice Arrangements Inquiry Report and other related issues

Quotes attributable to Rosslyn Monro:

“This years Budget is a missed opportunity to reverse funding cuts to community legal centres of 30% from 1 July next year.”

“We are extremely disappointed that the Government hasn’t prioritised access to legal help for people across Australia”. 

“CLCs helped over 215,000 people with free legal advice last year and had to turn away over 160,000 largely due to a lack of funding – these are the people that will suffer as a result of this Budget”.

We welcome the additional funding for family violence, however it remains unclear how much of that will come to legal assistance services, and is unlikely to counter the impact of our overall funding cuts.

Community legal centres help people with a wide range of legal problems. While family law and family violence are our top two areas of law, reversal of the funding cuts in additional to any extra family violence funding is crucial to ensure we can continue to assist people in areas such as credit and debt, housing, employment, and social security.

Facing a deficit of $37.1 billion in this Budget we understand the Government needs to make difficult decisions. However, it has ignored the expert recommendations made by bodies such as the Productivity Commission in forming this Budget, in particular the clear view that investing broadly in legal assistance services makes economic sense, and that there is an urgent need for additional funding.

For further information or to arrange an interview contact:

Rosslyn Monro, Chairperson, 0407 633 084
Amanda Alford, Director Policy and Advocacy, 0421 028 645
Jackie Hanafie, Media Adviser, 0412 652 439

Budget cuts to legal assistance services hit vulnerable hardest

Australia’s most vulnerable people who require vital access to legal assistance services have once again been let down by the Federal Government in this year’s Budget, says the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC).

The 2016-17 Federal Budget does not reverse the looming funding cuts or include any additional investment in legal assistance service, including Community Legal Centres, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services or Legal Aid Commissions.

“This year’s Budget is a missed opportunity to stop the funding cuts and ensure the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people across Australia have access to legal assistance,” NACLC Chairperson Rosslyn Monro said.

“The Government has failed our most vulnerable by not prioritising access to legal help for hundreds of thousands of people across Australia”.

“Community Legal Centres helped over 215,000 people with free legal advice last year and had to turn away over 160,000 largely due to lack of funding. These are the people that will suffer as a result of this Budget”.

“The unchanged funding in the Budget means the funding cliff for Community Legal Centres under the National Partnership Agreement for Legal Assistance is still a reality, amounting to $34.83 million cut between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2020”.

“We are also extremely concerned that funding cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services amounting to over $6 million between 2014-2015 and 2017-2018 will continue, as will the underfunding of Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services and Legal Aid Commissions”.

“We welcome the additional funding for family violence, but it is disappointing that funding does not include funding for legal assistance services”.

“Facing a deficit of $37.1 billion in this Budget we understand the Government needs to make difficult decisions. However, it has ignored the expert recommendations made by bodies such as the Productivity Commission in forming this Budget, in particular the clear view that investing in legal assistance services makes economic sense, and that there is an urgent need for additional funding”.

“Time is running out. Community Legal Centre are facing a 30% cut to funding nationally from 1 July next year and hard decisions are already being made about cuts to services and staff.”

“The bottom line is that these cuts will have a significant impact on the ability of people across Australia to access the legal help they need. They deserve better. The message in the Budget was that the Government doesn’t think this is a priority,” Ms Monro concluded.

For further information or to arrange an interview contact:
Rosslyn Monro, Chairperson, 0407 633 084
Amanda Alford, Director Policy and Advocacy, 0421 028 645
Jackie Hanafie, Media Adviser, 0412 652 439

Productivity Commission urges more funding for legal assistance, defends advocacy by publicly funded community legal centres

In its final report on access to justice arrangements released today, the Productivity Commission has recommended significant additional funding to help people with a range of civil legal problems such as family violence, employment, housing and debt, which have a significant impact on the lives of many Australians.

The Commission called for better evidence on legal and unmet legal need in Australia, and for governments to report annually on the extent of any failure to meet agreed coverage and priorities.

‘This report should mark a watershed moment in legal assistance in Australia. The Productivity Commission has recognised the severe social and economic impacts of an inaccessible justice system, and it has acknowledged the system is badly underfunded.

‘The report provides strong arguments against the deep cuts inflicted on community legal sector in the last Federal Budget and indicates the immediate reversal of those cuts and a significant increase in funding are needed,’ said Community Law Australia national spokesperson, Carolyn Bond AO, today.

‘Instead of massive cuts, this report is calling for the injection of $200 million to legal assistance services including community legal centres, Aboriginal legal services and legal aid. We support that as a starting point to ensure that access to legal help does not depend on your capacity to pay for a private lawyer,’ Ms Bond said.

The report notes that legal assistance funding in Australia is less than a third of per capita levels in the UK.

The Commission also endorsed the use of public funds by community legal centres for advocacy and law reform, with a specific recommendation that they be funded as a core activity.

This strengthens the Commission’s position expressed in its draft report, and runs counter to measures introduced by the Federal Government in July to limit law reform activities by community legal centres using Federal funds.

‘The Commission has rightly acknowledged the value of community legal centres working to resolve individual cases, and learning from those cases to argue for improvements in the law to prevent problems arising in the first place. The report clearly notes that advocacy and law reform by community legal centres can address underlying problems and reduce the demand for frontline services.

‘The Federal Government should acknowledge the findings of the Commission and immediately remove restrictions on advocacy and law reform using public funds,’ Ms Bond said.

Ms Bond congratulated the Commission on its detailed recommendations to improve access to justice in Australia, and urged the Federal Government to engage the community legal sector in framing its response.

The Productivity Commission’s report on access to justice arrangements can be accessed here:

http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/access-justice/report

Download this media release (PDF)

To arrange an interview

Darren Lewin-Hill on 0488 773 535

Released review shows legal services need funding boost, not Federal Budget cuts or further “efficiencies”

A recently released review by independent consultants has identified the need for a funding boost to meet the legal needs of disadvantaged Australians. The review strengthens the case for the current Productivity Commission Inquiry into Access to Justice Arrangements to recommend a funding increase when it publishes its final report in September.

The Review of the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services by the Allen Consulting Group (NPA Review), commissioned by the Federal Government, also undermines the basis of significant cuts imposed on community legal centres and other free legal assistance services through MYEFO and the May Federal Budget.

“The evidence is clear that a substantial funding boost is what community legal centres need, not the cuts we have seen or further efficiencies to redirect inadequate funding in the current system. Cuts and the search for ‘efficiencies’ are putting legal help for ordinary people further out of reach when they have no other options and can’t afford a private lawyer,” said Community Law Australia national spokesperson, Carolyn Bond, today.

The NPA Review noted specific service shortages for people with a mental illness, people with a disability and people experiencing homelessness; and service gaps for legal problems such as employment, equal opportunity and discrimination law, migration and refugee law and guardianship law.

“Community legal centres are struggling to meet demand, so it is no surprise to us that resources are inadequate,” Ms Bond said.

“We see first-hand how, if these problems aren’t addressed, they can escalate and lead to further problems such as poor health and homelessness. This means there is a high social and financial cost if legal problems aren’t addressed early.

“The report findings support our calls for increased resources for community legal centres – and the legal assistance sector as a whole. While the Government recently announced some small one-off grants, these are far outweighed by the cuts announced for 2015 and beyond. The Budget papers showed the Government plans to cut over 25 per cent of annual federal CLC funding by 2017–18,” Ms Bond said.

She said there would need to be broad consultation with, and participation, by all legal assistance providers (including community legal centres) about some of the system reforms proposed by the report, including clearer specification of service eligibility and streamlining of services.

However, she welcomed the report’s note of caution on the question of contracting out services and adopting systems from overseas, which the report said could be more expensive, and provide less “holistic” services than in Australia. The report found that Australia’s per capita spend on legal assistance was much lower than in countries such as the UK, where contracting out of services occurs.

“The NPA Review offers important insights into the funding of legal assistance services, and we are pleased that it has been made available to inform the public debate around these vital issues, including the current Productivity Commission inquiry,” Ms Bond concluded.

Australia’s 200 community legal centres give free legal help on issues such as employment, family violence, tenancy, discrimination, and debts.

Background

Economic cost benefit analysis of community legal centres

Download this media release (PDF)

To arrange an interview

Darren Lewin-Hill on 0488 773 535

Budget cuts to free legal help hit vulnerable and isolated Victorians

Vulnerable people in outer-suburban and regional Victoria are less likely to get the legal help they need as Federal Government cuts to community legal centres roll out nationally.

“As the human impact of these cuts emerges, it’s becoming clear that they’re hitting vulnerable and isolated Victorians, people who are already missing out and who need help the most,” said Carolyn Bond AO, national spokesperson for Community Law Australia, today.

In addition to $19.6 million cuts to community legal centres nationally, announced last December, there was an additional $6 million cut in the recent Federal Budget. Ms Bond said that despite the Federal Government’s claims that the cuts would not hit frontline services, this was exactly what was happening.

“Victorian community legal centres will either need to reduce the number of lawyers available to help people, turn away more people seeking help, limit the range of problems they can address, or restrict the regional areas they can cover,” Ms Bond said.

Two of the fourteen affected organisations are in regional Victoria, seven in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, and three are statewide specialist legal services.

Services likely to be affected by the cuts include:

• Family violence lawyers helping people with intervention orders;
• Specialist legal advice for regional and remote young people;
• Legal help across high-need, complex, and culturally diverse regional areas.

Lisa Maree Stevens of the Murray Mallee Community Legal Centre, said funding cuts would likely mean that 80–100 vulnerable clients, including Aboriginal women, would miss out on legal help each year if the centre had to cut back on its intervention order assistance and outreach.

“We cover a large geographic area, and our lawyers visit a number of disadvantaged communities, as well as a number of regional courts. When we have to cut back these services next year, there are no other services to pick up this vital work,” Ms Stevens said today.

Ariel Couchman from Youthlaw said their Skype program had been very successful, delivering legal help to young people who couldn’t physically get to services in the big towns and cities.

“The disadvantaged young people we help are facing very tough times in regional and remote Victoria. They are often reluctant to seek help even with homelessness and other serious social problems. Even fewer will do so if our Skype legal advice service is reduced as a result of these cuts,” Ms Couchman said.

Peter Noble from the Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre said the centre was likely to lose one of its three lawyers, who provide legal help across northern central Victoria stretching from Seymour to the Murray River, including the City of Greater Shepparton, one of Australia’s most complex, needy and culturally rich communities.

“We work with other local services to help people address underlying problems, prevent further legal issues arising, and relieve pressure on the courts and legal system. The disadvantaged people we help are usually not equipped to deal with their legal problems on their own, but funding cuts will mean that some of these people will miss out,” Mr Noble said.

Michael Smith from the Eastern Community Legal Centre said funding cuts placed their new services in the Yarra Ranges, and their family violence work, at serious risk. He said both these services had been provided in response to areas of high legal need.

“Without funding, our services must be reduced and people in need will miss out,” Mr Smith said.

“Even before these damaging cuts, community legal centres were already grossly underfunded and struggled to meet increasing demand for help with serious legal problems from people unable to afford a private lawyer. These cuts will only make that situation worse,” Ms Bond said.

“We know that community legal centres are already very efficient in the help they provide, and that nationally at least 500,000 Australians miss out on legal help every year. The answer is funding community legal centres properly to meet increasing need, not cutting their funding,” Ms Bond said.

Further information

Brandis ties NGO funding to non-advocacy

Brandis restrictions starting tomorrow seek to silence community legal centres speaking out on unfair laws, policies and practices

Last chance to be heard for law services, fighting to protect the most vulnerable

Advocacy and frontline services vital to achieve access to justice

Federal budget cuts to community legal centres in the news

Economic benefit of community legal centres strong, says cost benefit analysis

Community legal centres accuse Federal Government of gagging

Download this media release (PDF)

To arrange an interview

Darren Lewin-Hill on 0488 773 535

Budget cuts place free legal help further out of reach for South Australians

People in South Australia are less likely to get the legal help they need, as the Federal Government continues to cut funds to community legal centres.

In addition to $19.6 million cuts to community legal centres nationally, announced last December, there was an additional $6 million cut in the recent Federal Budget.

“The Federal Government says ‘frontline legal services will not be affected’ but these funds currently support significant frontline services,” said Carolyn Bond AO, national spokesperson for Community Law Australia, today.

“South Australian community legal centres will either need to reduce the number of lawyers available to help people, turn away more people seeking help, limit the range of problems they can address, or restrict the regional areas they can cover,” Ms Bond said.

The kinds of impacts these cuts could have include:

  • Thousands of women experiencing family violence denied free legal help;
  • People who want to challenge a decision that affects their income may not be able to get free legal help, particularly those in some regional areas;
  • People who can’t afford a private lawyer for family law, tenancy or debt issues may be turned away by free services, or may need to travel hundreds of kilometres to find help.

Zita Ngor from the Women’s Legal Service SA said the service gave legal help and advice to thousands of women each year.

“We fear we could lose up to half of our funding, which would not only impact on women experiencing family violence who would be turned away, but on their families, on the courts, and on community and health services,” she said.

Mark Leahy from the Welfare Rights Centre SA, which helps people with Centrelink problems, said that for many of their clients, being able to deal with a dispute with Centrelink can significantly impact on a family’s financial security.

“With the funding cuts proposed, we may have no option than to reduce our work in areas such as Cardinia and Port Augusta, where there is high demand and nowhere else for people to turn,” he said.

“Even before these damaging cuts, community legal centres were already grossly underfunded and struggled to meet increasing demand for help with serious legal problems from people unable to afford a private lawyer. These cuts will only make that situation worse,” Ms Bond said.

“We know that community legal centres are already very efficient in the help they provide, and that nationally at least 500,000 Australians miss out on legal help every year. The answer is funding community legal centres properly to meet increasing need, not cutting their funding,” she said.

Alan Merritt from the South Australian Council of Community Legal Services said the State Government provided some funds to community legal centres, and state funding for a new Consumer Credit Legal Service was good news for South Australia. However, with the level of demand for help, a greater commitment was needed from Federal and State governments – not a reduction in Federal funding.

Community legal centres give free legal help to disadvantaged Australians experiencing relationship breakdown, workplace mistreatment, family violence, debt, eviction, homelessness and other legal problems that severely impact their lives. They address the growing gap between people who qualify for legal aid, and those who can afford a private lawyer.

As well as these cuts, the Government has stopped centres doing any policy or law reform work with their funding.

“While it’s a small part of their overall work, community legal centres are in a position to identify repeat problems based on the experiences of their clients to bring about changes that prevent problems in the first place,” Ms Bond concluded.

Further information

Federal budget cuts to community legal centres in the news

Economic benefit of community legal centres strong, says cost benefit analysis

Community legal centres accuse Federal Government of gagging

Last chance to be heard for law services, fighting to protect the most vulnerable

Brandis restrictions starting tomorrow seek to silence community legal centres speaking out on unfair laws, policies and practices

Advocacy and frontline services vital to achieve access to justice

Download this media release (PDF)

To arrange an interview

Darren Lewin-Hill on 0488 773 535

Budget cuts place free legal help further out of reach for Queenslanders

People in Queensland are less likely to get the legal help they need, as the Federal Government continues to cut funds to community legal centres.

In addition to $19.6 million cuts to community legal centres nationally, announced last December, there was an additional $6 million cut in the recent Federal Budget.

“The Federal Government says ‘frontline legal services will not be affected’ but these funds currently support significant frontline services,” said Carolyn Bond AO, national spokesperson for Community Law Australia, today.

“Queensland community legal centres will either need to reduce the number of lawyers available to help people, turn away more people seeking help, limit the range of problems they can address, or restrict the regional areas they can cover,” Ms Bond said.

Six of the affected organisations are in regional Queensland, three in outer suburbs of Brisbane, and two are statewide specialist legal services.

“Regional Queenslanders will be most affected by these cuts,” Ms Bond said.

The types of services that could be affected include:

  • specialist legal services for tenants facing eviction across Queensland;
  • specialist family law outreach services in Coomera;
  • general legal help for the Inala community;
  • family law services on the Sunshine Coast and in Townsville, helping people when their relationships end;
  • statewide legal help for people who have disputes with Centrelink; and
  • legal help with family violence applications at Southport Magistrates’ Court.

“Even before these damaging cuts, community legal centres were already grossly underfunded and struggled to meet increasing demand for help with serious legal problems from people unable to afford a private lawyer. These cuts will only make that situation worse,” Ms Bond said.

“We know that community legal centres are already very efficient in the help they provide, and that nationally at least 500,000 Australians miss out on legal help every year. The answer is funding community legal centres properly to meet increasing need, not cutting their funding,” Ms Bond said.

Community legal centres give free legal help to disadvantaged Australians experiencing relationship breakdown, workplace mistreatment, family violence, debt, eviction, homelessness and other legal problems that severely impact their lives. They address the growing gap between people who qualify for legal aid, and those who can afford a private lawyer.

As well as these cuts, the Government has stopped centres doing any policy or law reform work with their funding.

“While it’s a small part of their overall work, community legal centres are in a position to identify repeat problems based on the experiences of their clients to bring about changes that prevent problems in the first place,” Ms Bond concluded.

Further information

Federal budget cuts to community legal centres in the news

Economic benefit of community legal centres strong, says cost benefit analysis

Community legal centres accuse Federal Government of gagging

Last chance to be heard for law services, fighting to protect the most vulnerable

Brandis restrictions starting tomorrow seek to silence community legal centres speaking out on unfair laws, policies and practices

Advocacy and frontline services vital to achieve access to justice

Download this media release (PDF)

To arrange an interview

Darren Lewin-Hill on 0488 773 535