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

Door to door and in-home sales techniques exposed

We like to think of ourselves as rational decision-makers, but the power of psychological selling techniques can have a serious financial impact for many.  Community legal centres that specialise in consumer and debt issues regularly help people who have felt pressured into expensive contractual obligations they can no longer meet – often when they had little understanding of the product. Continue reading

Access to justice brought closer with $33 million funding boost

Community Law Australia today welcomed increased funding to ensure that community legal centres across the country can service more people in need of legal help.

New funding announced by the Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus today of $33 million nationally over 4 years will mean that access to justice is not just a set of words, but closer to a reality for thousands of Australians that community legal centres are struggling to service because of limited resources.

Continue reading

A Day in the Life… Celebrating the daily work of our local CLCs

 Tomorrow, Thursday June 20 is Community Law Australia’s ‘Day in the Life of a CLC’, an opportunity to highlight the diverse and important work Community Legal Centres do on a daily basis around the country.

Our day of action will showcase the work our CLCs do with photos and discussion of activities happening at local CLCs via social media.

Here are a couple of examples of what can happen in a ‘Day in the Life’ of a CLC:

In Victoria, Peninsula CLC, with other agencies, is holding a ‘Bring your bills’ day, where people can take their bills into the Chisholm Institute Atrium in Frankston for advice and help. Staff will be on-hand from 10am-3pm to help people manage their bills and deal with any problems.

In Western Australia, Bunbury CLC is celebrating its 25th anniversary on June 20. Excitingly, as of July 1 the centre will expand its services to Busselton, Margaret River and Narrogin to meet growing demand.

The Women’s Legal Service in Queensland conducts a phone advice line every Thursday, from 9am-1pm, to answer calls and offer advice to vulnerable women. Women often call with questions about family law, intervention orders, or issues to do with discrimination. In a state where family violence accounts for 44% of homicides, they do very valuable work in the community.

In New South Wales, the Consumer Credit Legal Centre provides both legal advice and financial counselling assistance for credit and debt problems. The Insurance Law Service, run out of the same office, provides advice and assistance with insurance problems Australia wide. This service expects to give 40 advices and 40 information referrals this Thursday, but demand is growing.

In Tasmania the Launceston CLC coordinates a legal literacy program that extends across the north east of Tasmania. Volunteers assist clients to fill out forms, explain documents and make referrals to solicitors when there are legal needs. They work closely with local providers to deliver this community service and will be holding a morning tea with Centrelink and Deloraine House to discuss new web tools and engagement mechanisms for clients.

This is an excellent example of the wider work that many CLCs do to ensure that there are strong links with other service providers in the community – and a case in point of programs that target rural and remote Tasmanians to increase their access to legal services.

Community Legal Centres across the country conduct activities like these every day – helping people stay on top of legal problems that can unexpectedly crop up.

What I have outlined above is just a snippet of some of the activity happening across the country on Thursday. To stay updated throughout the day, like us on Facebook and follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #unlockthelaw.

If you support the work that CLCs do in your local community, please take action to help CLCs to assist more people across the country.

By Carolyn Bond

By all means, share your story of how a CLC made a difference. Please remember, if posting about how a CLC has helped you or a family member, please refrain from mentioning individuals’ names or content will be removed.