Media Roundup Fund Equal Justice Campaign 14-16 March 2016

 

Monday 14 March

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Federal Budget cuts to community legal centres in the news

Last week’s Federal Budget has drawn strong criticism, including from the community legal sector, which received a further $6 million cut. This was in addition to the $43.1 million cut to legal assistance services announced last December ($19.6 million from CLCs).

The cuts will directly impact the frontline services of around 60 community legal centres nationally, including those supporting women facing family violence. In addition, a planned amendment to service agreements will seek to preclude the use of Commonwealth funding for law reform and policy advocacy work by community legal centres.

Media responses issued by Community Law Australia, and by the National Association of Community Legal Centres, resulted in several radio interviews and a Canberra Times report that was widely syndicated by Fairfax Media.

Media releases

To arrange a media interview, please contact Darren Lewin-Hill, Communications Manager, on 0488 773 535.

(Cross-posted from the Federation of Community Legal Centres)

Innovative community legal service in women’s hospital helps to stop family violence

Community Law Australia today commended the work being done to address family violence by North Melbourne Legal Service and the Royal Women’s Hospital (the Women’s) through their innovative legal assistance outreach project Acting on the Warning Signs.

The project, funded by the Legal Services Board major grants program as well as in-kind support from Herbert Smith Freehills, aims to build the capacity and willingness of health professionals to identify family violence and provide basic information to patients who require it.

Since December 2012, training has been provided to over 125 staff including 27 doctors to empower them to identify signs of family violence and offer referral and assistance. Between 1 August 2012 and 1 November 2013 legal advice was given to 73 patients on site at the Women’s by lawyers from North Melbourne Legal Service.

Dr Fleur Llewelyn, Manager of Clinical Education at the Royal Women’s Hospital said she was proud of the achievements made by the pilot program thus far.

“By having a lawyer available on-site, women are able to access information about their rights and entitlements within the safety of the hospital,” she said.

“Women who are in situations where they may be experiencing chronic abuse and violence are able to attend the hospital for an antenatal appointment and see a lawyer who can provide them with advice about their rights and entitlements, including information about intervention orders and family law.

“This is a powerful opportunity to empower women to take steps to escape a violent situation.”

Community Law Australia spokesperson Carolyn Bond said the success of the program indicated that there may be scope for similar partnerships between community legal centres and health providers.

“Legal problems often occur in conjunction with social, economic or health problems, so it makes sense for legal and non-legal services to work together – particularly in helping deal with complex issues like family violence.

“This is just one example of CLCs working well with other service providers to help solve connected legal, social, health and financial problems. This work is taking quality legal assistance one step further by delivering our legal services in partnerships and in locations which work best for the people who need our help.

“A recent survey of Victorian CLCs found that the vast majority of CLCs delivered legal services alongside other community services. Whether it is at a rural community health service, in conjunction with financial counselling services or at drug and alcohol clinic, this innovative CLC work is about early intervention and prevention and helping people holistically. Access to justice research strongly suggests this is the way to go,” Ms Bond said.

Download this media release (PDF)

Greens respond to problem of unmet legal need, but where do the other parties sit?

Community Law Australia today welcomed the Greens projected policy on the access to justice crisis but called for other parties to reveal their plans to tackle the growing demand for legal help, which is rising out of step with legal assistance sector resources. Continue reading

CLA asks political parties to outline their plans to address the access to justice crisis

Community Law Australia has written to Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, Shadow Attorney-General Senator Brandis and Greens Senator Penny Wright to ask them to outline their plans to address the access to justice crisis.

Community Law Australia campaign spokesperson Carolyn Bond said that despite recent increases in funding, there was still huge unmet demand for free legal help among Australians who can’t afford to pay for a private lawyer. Continue reading

Funding provides vital community lawyer support for family violence and first new community legal centre in Melbourne’s fringe since 2005

Community Law Australia today welcomed increased funding to ensure that the Eastern community legal centre (ECLC) could service more people in need of legal help. Continue reading

Legal expenditure and funding lead campaign media wrap

Our latest wrap of campaign-related media covers a range of issues including Commonwealth Government legal expenditure, Legal Aid and community legal centre funding, advocacy, pro bono legal services, and family violence (Please note: some articles may be paywalled).

We welcome your comments, and please let us know if you become aware of coverage we can share it with our campaign supporters.

You can keep up-to-date with all our media coverage by reading our In the Media category.

Advocacy leads CLA campaign media wrap

Our latest wrap of campaign-related media covers a range of issues including advocacy and activism, legal needs and court fees, family violence, and cuts to tenancy services in Queensland (Please note: some articles may be paywalled).

In addition, the campaign achieved local print, radio and television around the launch of a new community legal centre in the Goulburn Valley in late September, Queensland radio around the tenancy service cuts at the end of September, and on ABC Kimberley on 25 October on the need for a new regional community legal centre.

We welcome your comments, and please let us know if you become aware of coverage we can share it with our campaign supporters.

You can keep up-to-date with all our media coverage by reading our In the Media category.