Media Release: Tasmanian CLCs saved for another year as State Government covers federal funding shortfall

In welcome news, the Tasmanian state government has committed to covering the federal funding shortfall of community legal centres (CLCs) over 2017/18.

The Tasmanian government’s investment in the legal assistance sector will fully offset 30 per cent cuts in federal government funding to five community legal centres (CLCs) as well as the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania that was due to commence on 1 July 2017.

“CLCs across Tasmania were facing reduced service delivery as a result of the Federal Government’s funding cuts to the sector, so it is a huge relief to be able to let the Tasmanian community know that the same level of service can continue to be provided,” said Jane Hutchison, the Chair of Community Legal Centres Tasmania.

“We welcome the Tasmanian Government’s commitment to cover the federal funding shortfall in the 2017/18 financial year. This commitment is an endorsement of the work of the sector and its essential role in providing legal services to vulnerable Australians – including women and children experiencing family violence, people with disability and people experiencing elder abuse – who cannot get legal assistance anywhere else,” she said.

CEO of the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) Nassim Arrage also welcomed the move.

“We thank the Tasmanian Government for their commitment to cover the federal funding shortfall of CLCs,” Mr Arrage said.

“However, we note that this funding is only for the next financial year. The only real solution to the current funding crisis is for federal, state and territory governments to work together to maintain the core funding that was made available for CLCs, while immediately injecting an additional $200 million as recommended by the Productivity Commission.

“CLCs need secure, stable and adequate funding if they are to plan and continue to provide high quality legal services that meet community needs.

“We call on the Federal Government to show leadership and reverse the 30 per cent funding cut to the sector in the upcoming Federal Budget, and to work with state and territory governments to secure long term funding for CLCs.

“The National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) looks forward to working with all levels of Government to ensure the Australian community has access to free, high quality legal services,” he said.

To arrange an interview or for more information please contact:
Jane Hutchison 0417 596 919
Nassim Arrage 0408 092 256

Media Release: Community Lawyers Welcome Funding Reprieve from Tasmanian Government

The National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) and Community Legal Centres Tasmania (CLC Tas) today welcomed the announcement by the Tasmanian Government as part of last night’s Budget to provide emergency top up funding to three community legal centres in Tasmania.

The State Government announced an additional $496,000 to legal assistance services, including community legal centres and the Legal Aid Commission, in Tasmania over 2016-2017.

‘We are pleased that the Tasmanian Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin has recognised the important work that community legal centres do for some of Tasmania’s most socially and financially disadvantaged people’ said Jane Hutchison, Chair of CLC Tas.

‘We welcome of the additional funding, some of which will be provided to three of the community legal centres funded by the Commonwealth Government under the National Partnership Agreement for Legal Assistance (NPA). The announcement means that CLCs in Tasmania funded under the NPA will be insulated from funding cuts for another year’.

‘The funding will help to secure Tasmania’s community legal centres and allow services to continue to be delivered to vulnerable Tasmanians. This is a particularly welcome outcome for centres facing imminent staff cuts and reduction in programs’ she added.

However, CLCs are still facing a funding cliff from 1 July 2017, with a 30% cut to Commonwealth funding nationally locked into the NPA.

‘We welcome the funding commitment from the Tasmanian Government that will protect CLCs over the coming financial year. It shows an important commitment to the sector and to the people of Tasmania’ said Daniel Stubbs, NACLC National Spokesperson.

‘However, we are extremely concerned that CLCs in Tasmania still face a looming funding cliff from 1 July 2017 unless the Commonwealth Government reverses the funding cuts. That will mean fewer Tasmanians will get the legal help they need. The Tasmanian Government has taken an important step to protect CLCs and it is time the Commonwealth Government did the same’ added Mr Stubbs.

‘In addition, unfortunately the State Government’s announcement did not restore funding to the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO). The Commonwealth Government cut all funding from EDOs and without an immediate injection of funding, we may see the loss of these vital services’ concluded Mr Stubbs.

NACLC and CLC Tas call on the Federal Government to:

  1. Reverse the Commonwealth funding cuts to CLCs under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance amounting to $34.83 million from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2020
  2. Immediately inject $200 million per year to legal assistance services, as recommended by the Productivity Commission, 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/Territories)
  3. Commit to implementing an appropriate process for determining adequate and sustainable longer-term funding contributions for legal assistance in consultation with the sector.

For further information or to arrange an interview contact:

Jane Hutchison, CLTAS, 0417 596 919
Dan Stubbs, NACLC National Spokesperson, 0437 253 543
Amanda Alford, NACLC Director Policy and Advocacy, 0421 028 645
Jackie Hanafie, Media Adviser, 0412 652 439