Media Release: Community lawyers at frontline of family violence call for Government support

Today, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, is an opportunity to acknowledge the vital work that Community Legal Centres do to help women and children experiencing family violence.

“Community Legal Centres across Australia provide free legal help to hundreds of thousands of women and girls experiencing family violence” said Dan Stubbs, National Spokesperson of the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC).

“We help with immediate issues such as safety planning and protection orders as well as other issues related to the violence such as family law, credit and debt, problems with Centrelink, tenancy disputes, and employment issues” he said.

“Through our Health Justice Partnerships we provide free legal help to women who attend medical appointments. So often this is the only chance for a woman experiencing family violence to leave the house alone, and so getting them immediate assistance in that window is crucial” he added.

Women’s Legal Services are specialist Community Legal Centres that provide assistance to women experiencing legal problems arising from family violence and relationship breakdown.

“On days like today it is important to reflect the key role Women’s Legal Services play in helping victim survivors of family violence” said Agata Wierzbowski, National Law Reform Coordinator for Women’s Legal Services Australia (WLSA).

“Every day we help women access safety, help with immediate and long-term legal issues arising out of family violence, and in some cases save women’s lives” added Ms Wierzbowski.

“However, we can’t begin to address family violence without addressing the problems in our family law system. That’s why WLSA, together with Rosie Batty, have developed a 5-Step Plan to Safety First in Family Law” she said.

“One part of that Plan is to ensure adequate funding for family violence services, including Community Legal Centres” Ms Wierzbowski added.

“It is timely that this year’s theme for today is ‘Orange the world: raise money to end violence against women and girls’ given that CLCs across Australia will face a 30% funding cliff from 1 July next year” said Mr Stubbs.

“We are set to lose almost $35 million over the next few years nationally. This will mean that women and children experiencing family violence won’t get the legal help they need”.

“Starting today, the next 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence are a pertinent reminder to the Federal Government of the urgency of this issue and the importance of working with the sector to reverse the funding cliff and ensure women across Australia get this vital legal help” concluded Mr Stubbs.

To arrange an interview or for more information contact:                

Daniel Stubbs, NACLC National Spokesperson, 0437 253 543
Agata Wierzbowski, WLSA National Law Reform Coordinator, 0431 975 770
Amanda Alford, NACLC Director Policy and Advocacy, 0421 028 645

For more information about the Orange the World Campaign see: UNiTE to End Violence

Media Release: Community Lawyers Welcome Greens Plan to Address Family Violence

The National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) today welcomed the announcement by the Greens of their plan to address family violence, including through funding for legal assistance services.

The policy ‘Confronting Our Domestic Violence Crisis: Enough is Enough- Funding Our Front Line Services’ was released by Greens spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters. It includes a $5 billion plan over ten years to increase investment in front line services to address and respond to family violence.

“We welcome the Greens acknowledgement of the family violence crisis in Australia and the need for significant investment to address that crisis” said Daniel Stubbs, NACLC National Spokesperson.

“We also welcome the Greens acknowledgement of the need to reverse the funding cuts to community legal centres (CLCs), implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendations and invest long-term in the legal assistance sector” said Mr Stubbs.

“We are disappointed that there was no specific funding for CLCs included in the package announced today, however the Greens have indicated that they will make further specific funding commitments for CLCs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Legal Aid Commissions in the coming weeks and we look forward to hearing more” added Mr Stubbs.

“An important part of the package is the specific funding for Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS) of $144 million additional funds over 4 years. The FVPLS provide vital services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experiencing family violence and it is vital that these community controlled services receive the funding they need” added Mr Stubbs.

“We are also pleased to see that the package includes $60 million to implement the recommendations made as part of the Safety First in Family Law Campaign being run by one of NACLC’s National Networks, Women’s Legal Services Australia. The Campaign outlines five steps to creating a family law system that keeps women and children safe and is a vital part of any national response to family violence, so reform consistent with these steps as well as associated funding is very welcome” concluded Mr Stubbs.

For further information or to arrange an interview contact:

Dan Stubbs, National Spokesperson, 0437 253 543
Amanda Alford, Director Policy and Advocacy, 0421 028 645
Jackie Hanafie, Media Adviser, 0412 652 439

To discuss the Women’s Legal Services Australia Safety First in Family Law Campaign, contact:
Emma Smallwood, Women’s Legal Services Australia, 03 8622 0600