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

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

National access to justice campaign Community Law Australia has rejected as damaging and counter-productive new restrictions on the law reform and policy advocacy work of Federally funded community legal centres that will come into force tomorrow.

“These restrictions will stand in the way of fixing serious legal problems for many disadvantaged people and should be abandoned before they begin,” said Carolyn Bond AO, national spokesperson, today.

“The Federal Government should recognise the value and efficiency of community legal centres putting forward their views on how laws, policies and practices can be improved or better enforced to deliver just outcomes. They do so based on the experience of seeing thousands of people every year,” Ms Bond said.

The restrictions are being driven by Federal Attorney-General George Brandis, who wants centres to focus exclusively on “frontline services”, a position starkly at odds not only with the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into access to justice arrangements, but with views recently expressed by social services minister Kevin Andrews in response to gag fears in the welfare sector.

“While law reform and policy advocacy are a small part of community legal centre work, they are a vital part.

“Community legal centres can’t be silent on law reform to protect women and children from family violence. They can’t be silent on advocating better policies to protect people from predatory money lenders and mortgage brokers. They can’t be silent when speaking out can mean thousands of legal problems could be prevented before they become individual cases of people walking through the already-crowded doors of community legal centres.

“The Federal Government shouldn’t expect silence from community legal centres facing a flawed and unjust legal system where unfair laws left in place unchallenged will inevitably fuel the crisis levels of demand for free legal assistance in Australia,” Ms Bond said.

The restrictions on law reform and policy advocacy follow deep cuts to community legal centres through MYEFO and the recent Federal Budget. One-off grants to a small number of community legal centres announced last week were welcome, but heavily outweighed by the overall cuts, Ms Bond noted.

The Attorney-General claims community legal centres will still be able to engage in law reform and policy advocacy, but not with Federal funds. Ms Bond said this failed to acknowledge the significant unfunded contribution community legal centres already made across a range of areas.

“The Federal Government should also know that by further cutting funds to an already chronically underfunded sector, they are directly impacting vital frontline services,” Ms Bond said.

She called on the Federal Government to affirm its support for law reform and policy advocacy, even where calls for necessary change sometimes questioned existing government policies.

Further information

Last chance for law services to be heard, 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

To arrange an interview

Darren Lewin-Hill on 0488 773 535

Download this media release (PDF)

Federal Budget exposes more funding cuts as A-G Brandis stops community legal centres speaking out on unfair laws and practices

The Federal Budget has exposed a further $6 million in cuts from community legal centres in 2017/18 beyond the deep $43.1m cuts to legal assistance services announced last December. The government is also set to stop community legal centres engaging in valuable law reform and systemic advocacy using Commonwealth funds.

“These cuts fly in the face of overwhelming demand. Community legal centres already report having to turn away one in five people needing their help. These cuts will see even more people turned away – people who cannot afford a private lawyer and have nowhere else to go for legal help with serious problems such as family violence, workplace mistreatment, homelessness, eviction, relationship breakdown and debt,” said Community Law Australia Chair, Liana Buchanan, today.

“Contrary to statements from the Federal Government, these cuts are directed at frontline services. Having to close outreach offices and stop providing family violence support lawyers at court are just some of the actions centres will have to take because of these cuts.

“As well as biting deeply into frontline services to address serious legal problems, these cuts wind back some welcome expansions into areas where free legal help has been unavailable. They will worsen the postcode injustice that has too long affected people in regional Australia.

“When conservative estimates tell us half a million Australians miss out on the legal help they need each year, cutting community legal assistance is a callous and false economy. The economic cost-benefit analysis of community legal centres shows for every dollar spent by government, centres return an economic benefit of $18 (see below for link).

“These cuts have nothing to do with efficiency and everything to do with saving quick money at the expense of an unacceptable legal risk to the disadvantaged.

“As well as cutting frontline services, the government also plans to amend service agreements to stop community legal centres from working to change unfair laws, policies and practices that impact their clients.

“Through the thousands of people they see each year, community legal centres are uniquely placed to see how laws and the legal system impact the community. Working to address broader barriers to justice through advice and submissions to government, education campaigns, test cases and public advocacy is a critical part of community legal centres’ work.

In many instances, law reform and systemic advocacy is quite simply the most efficient and effective way a community legal centre can stop legal problems in the future and help more than just their individual clients.

The restrictions on community legal centres come as the recent Productivity Commission draft report on access to justice places advocacy at the core of what community legal centres should do, explicitly recognising the efficiency and community benefit of law reform and systemic work. (see pp.624–5).

“We need fair and workable laws, and fair access to legal help regardless of whether you can afford to pay a private lawyer. The funding cuts and effective gagging of community legal centres completely undermine that goal, and they worsen the access to justice crisis already faced by many Australians,” Ms Buchanan concluded.

Background information

Draft Productivity Commission Report on Access to Justice Arrangements

Economic cost-benefit analysis of community legal centres

Broad cuts to legal assistance services will fuel access to justice crisis (MYEFO)

Defunding of Aboriginal legal services peak a dangerous “economy” (MYEFO)

Download this media release (PDF)

To arrange a media interview or for further information, please contact Darren Lewin-Hill on 0488 773 535.

Productivity Commission acknowledges unmet legal need, sparks vital debate on action to address access to justice crisis

The Productivity Commission draft report on Access to Justice Arrangements released today offers welcome acknowledgment of unmet legal need in Australia and the Commission’s draft recommendations will spark a vital public debate on how to address the worsening access to justice crisis in Australia.

“We are pleased the Commission clearly supports funding legal assistance based on need, and has questioned whether current government investment is adequate. In particular, the report notes that Australia spends less than one third per capita on free legal assistance compared with the UK (p663),” said Community Law Australia’s national spokesperson Carolyn Bond AO today.

Ms Bond said this was consistent with Community Law Australia’s calls to double (extra $40m) Federal funding for community legal centres.

She agreed with the Commission that more needed to be done to map unmet legal need, but noted that there is already ample evidence that many people are missing out, including those turned away from community legal centres due to chronic underfunding.

The Commission has proposed a reallocation of funding for community legal centres to better target geographic areas of need. However, given the lack of adequate funding, moving funds around will do little to address the problem of unmet demand. The Commission is also considering alternative models for allocating funding to community legal centres.

“Any alternative models would need to respond to identified legal need, avoid further rationing of legal assistance services, and acknowledge the different roles played by community legal centres as independent, not-for-profit and community managed organisations that offer free legal help tailored to their local communities,” Ms Bond said.

A recent cost-benefit analysis shows that community legal centres return $18 of value for every dollar invested. Ms Bond welcomed the Commission’s finding that underfunding legal assistance resulted in other costs to government flowing from unresolved and escalating legal problems.

The report states that the evidence “shows that as disadvantage ‘concentrates’, vulnerability to multiple legal problems is heightened” (p629).

“People experiencing poverty and disadvantage are the mainstay of the clients seen by community legal centres, 80 per cent of whom earn less than $26,000 per annum. Community legal centres have a unique contribution to make as independent, community-based services providing vital legal assistance to people living in poverty and disadvantage,” she said.

Ms Bond also welcomed the report’s finding on the value of systemic advocacy, including policy and law reform work by community legal centres. The report states (p.625):

The Commission considers that advocacy should be a core activity of [legal aid commissions] and [community legal centres] (particularly peak bodies and the larger [community legal centres]).

“Advocacy increases the efficiency of free legal assistance by improving laws and policies that affect thousands of people. These people would otherwise need to seek help from lawyers and legal services,” Ms Bond said.

She welcomed a range of other draft recommendations in the report, including better consumer protections for people seeking help through private lawyers and increased use of alternative dispute resolution in appropriate disputes.

Community legal centres will be making detailed submissions to the Commission and offering a more detailed public analysis of the report.

Examples of free legal help by community legal centres were tweeted from around Australia during the Community Law Australia Day of Action held last week (hashtag #unlockthelaw).

For comment, please contact national spokesperson Carolyn Bond AO on 0412 032 987. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Darren Lewin-Hill on 0488 773 535.

Download this media release (PDF)

Tough Budget must not target people unable to afford legal help

With Treasurer Joe Hockey warning of a ‘tough’ Federal Budget, national access to justice campaign Community Law Australia has highlighted the risk of further cuts to free legal assistance, when growing unmet legal need instead demands a doubling of current funding to community legal centres.

“We hear the Federal Government’s view that everyone needs to share the burden of a ‘tough’ Budget, but we say that people who can’t afford legal help for common and often serious legal problems should not be called on to bear it,” said Carolyn Bond AO, national spokesperson for Community Law Australia, today.

Ms Bond said that free legal assistance services, including frontline services targeting family violence, were already reeling from significant cuts following the Mid-Year Economic and Financial Outlook (MYEFO) last December.

“MYEFO saw announced cuts of more than $43 million to Aboriginal, family violence, environmental and broader legal assistance services. The Government claims these were primarily directed at policy and law reform, but the reality is that frontline services for Australians in need will be affected.

“These cuts need to be reversed, and free legal assistance needs to be funded across the board on a sustainable basis or we’ll risk an even worse access to justice crisis in Australia,” Ms Bond said.

Research by the Australia Institute found that half-a-million people miss out on legal help each year, while 63 per cent of centres responding to a 2012–13 ACOSS survey said they were unable to meet demand. Of the people community legal centres are able to help, 80 per cent earn less than $26,000 per year.

“We’re talking about issues like family violence, housing problems, employment and credit and debt issues. An elderly person with a dispute about faulty roofing on her home, the family of a man with a terminal illness facing loss of their home, a woman seeking support to leave a violent partner – these are the sorts of problems that will increasingly go unaddressed unless there’s more funding in the system,” Ms Bond said.

She said the problems encountered by community legal centres as individual cases could sometimes be better addressed at a systemic level to change policies and laws for the benefit of thousands of people, so continued funding for policy and law reform work was also vital.

“Community legal centres see thousands of people and gain unique insights into legal problems that would otherwise be unavailable to government. To deny the value of this work for policy and law reform simply because it may question government policy is counter-productive. Effectively, it’s asking an efficient community legal sector not to be smart in the way it works. It’s asking us to be inefficient,” Ms Bond said.

She said the lead-up to the Federal Budget would see the consideration of a recently completed national review of legal assistance services commissioned by the former Government, and also the release of a Productivity Commission report on legal assistance services.

“Ultimately, budgets are a matter of priorities. Agencies like ACOSS have already suggested where alternative cuts could be made if a ‘tough’ Budget is necessary. We note, for example, that the Federal Government spent $714 million on its own legal services in 2012–13 compared with $32 million for community legal centres over the same period.

“The Government can choose how the burden of a ‘tough’ Budget is shared. It shouldn’t choose to cut services that prevent legal problems that will otherwise escalate to impact disadvantaged individuals and the community, causing further human costs and expense to government,” Ms Bond concluded.

Today, Community Law Australia is holding a social media Day of Action with community legal centres around Australia telling their stories on Facebook, and using the #unlockthelaw hashtag on Twitter.

Download this media release (PDF)

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Carolyn Bond on 0412 032 987 or Darren Lewin-Hill on 0488 773 535.

Broad cuts to legal assistance services will fuel access to justice crisis

Broad cuts to legal assistance services announced by the Coalition Government as part of its MYEFO statement today will fuel the national access to justice crisis, according to Community Law Australia.

“We know from multiple reports and studies on unmet legal need in Australia that the access to justice crisis is growing significantly. To respond to this crisis not with badly needed additional funding but with broad-ranging cuts totalling more than $42 million will further jeopardise the most vulnerable in our community,” said Carolyn Bond AO, national spokesperson for Community Law Australia, today.

Including cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS), the Coalition has announced that a total more than $42 million in cuts will now also be spread over a further three legal assistance services including community legal centres (CLCs), Legal Aid Commissions, and Family Violence Prevention Legal Services.

Community legal centres – including nine Environment Defenders Offices, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, and other CLCs for which details are yet to be announced – face cuts of $19.61 million over four years.

“As well as the environmental and public interest advocacy CLC cuts known so far, cuts to CLCs more broadly will impact the help vulnerable people get on a range of other issues, including credit and debt, employment, family violence and family law,” Ms Bond said.

ATSILS will be cut by $13.41 million over four years, and the balance of the more than $42 million cuts will fall on Legal Aid Commissions and Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, with details of specific cuts to those two services yet to be announced.

“The Government has claimed that frontline services will not be affected, but this is inevitable given the legal assistance services it is targeting. We also know from economic analysis that every dollar invested in community legal centres has a return of $18 in benefits, so the impact of these cuts will in fact be multiplied beyond the figures announced by the Coalition Government today. This is a tragedy for access to justice in Australia,” Ms Bond said.

She said that the services to be cut not only provided frontline legal help, but also drew on casework to inform and advocate for policy and legal changes that help many thousands of people.

“Cutting these services places the effectiveness of frontline legal assistance at significant risk, undermines the evidence-base of law reform, and places vital services at the mercy of short-term budgetary considerations that are blind to long-term human and economic costs,” Ms Bond concluded.

Download this media release (PDF)

Defunding of Aboriginal legal services peak a dangerous “economy”

National access to justice campaign Community Law Australia has called for the immediate reversal of today’s defunding by the Coalition Government of Aboriginal legal services peak body, National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS).

“The announcement that this vital peak body will be defunded, together with policy officers in State and Territory affiliates is a dangerous economy given the stark over-representation of Indigenous people in the prison system, their significant and disproportionate disadvantage compared to the broader population across a range of areas, and the systemic discrimination they face,” said Carolyn Bond AO, Community Law Australia’s national spokesperson, today.

“These cuts will result in a very small saving, but will have a massively disproportionate impact. They will create downstream human and economic costs that will dwarf the minor short-term budget savings. Saving $9 million over three years, when Indigenous incarceration rates are spiralling and states are spending billions on prisons makes no sense at all,” Ms Bond said.

As well as resulting in more Indigenous people going to prison, the cuts would also undermine early intervention and prevention work in family and civil law matters, she said.

“It is vital that the valuable experience of ATSILS can be shared with policy-makers, so that laws and policies are effective – this work includes things such as engaging with the productivity commission inquiry into access to justice, submissions about family violence laws, sharing the experience of Indigenous people in the family law system, responses to the incarceration of young people, and the framing of principles for placing aboriginal children in care – and the list goes on.

“We support the NATSILS position that the cuts will seriously undermine an informed, evidence-based approach to Indigenous legal services in Australia. It is fundamentally important that these services be informed by the full engagement of Indigenous people themselves. The cuts threaten the capacity of Indigenous people to participate in creating the solutions to the issues affecting them. They contradict an aim we should all share, the empowerment of Indigenous people,” Ms Bond said.

In September, the Coalition was heavily criticised for slated $42 million cuts to Indigenous legal services. Whether today’s cuts are part of the earlier proposed cuts, will replace them, or are additional, remains unclear.

“When additional investment is so badly needed, any cuts to Indigenous legal services are a dangerous economy,” Ms Bond concluded.

Download this media release (PDF)

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)

Family violence rate prompts call for more community lawyers

Community Law Australia has today called on the Tasmanian state government to increase funding for Community Legal Centres amid concern around the rate of family violence.

Carolyn Bond, Community Law Australia spokesperson, said the prevalence of family violence issues and limited access to legal help was a main driver behind the campaign’s call for community lawyers in every court across the state.

“More than 600 Tasmanians, mostly women, make a family violence application to the court each year, seeking an order to protect their safety. Police statistics show that an additional 2,500 12-month family violence orders are issued each year to women in need,” Ms Bond said.

“And many of these victims don’t have access to legal help.

“The cases that are reported to police are just the tip of the iceberg because the dynamics of a controlling relationship can mean women are actually in greater danger if they report.

“Community lawyers are a vital asset at courts to advise and represent those who are seeking family violence orders. But there just aren’t enough resources to represent all the women who need help.

“While some may get help from a free duty lawyer, others may find that there is no lawyer on duty at the court, or even if there is, the lawyer doesn’t have time to help everyone. Whether or not they get help is luck of the draw.

“We estimate that those individuals who take action are a very small proportion of those experiencing family violence. It’s crucial if women do come forward that legal help is available to them.

Ms Bond said that everyone who approaches the court for a family violence order should be able to access legal help.

“It is extremely stressful time, and can be difficult to make decisions. Part of encouraging people to come forward is letting them know that legal advice is there when they need it,” she said.

Women’s Legal Service Tasmania CEO, Susan Fahey, said the lack of funding for CLCs to undertake duty law work in this area was a big problem in the state.

“Even where there may be a duty lawyer at court, they can be very busy. Women’s Legal Service has seen women who have been to court for family violence applications and missed out on getting any assistance at all,” Ms Fahey said.

“The facts speak for themselves. The cost of domestic violence has been estimated at $13.6 billion per year to the Australian economy.

“Women’s Legal Service helps more than 1,000 women each year, but we estimate that many more miss out on the legal help they need.

“We are seeing an increasing number of family violence applications come through the courts.

“Family violence is currently one of the biggest problems facing Tasmanians, and increased funding and better resources are needed to provide access to the legal system.”

Ms Bond said that in some other states, state funding enables community lawyers to be available at the court specifically to help with family violence matters.

“We don’t believe that anyone should have to do this alone. The Tasmanian Government lags behind most other states in the commitment it makes to providing legal help those most in need,” Ms Bond said.

“We encourage the Tasmanian Government to make a commitment to victims of family violence in Tasmania, that legal help will be available to those seeking it during a crucial time.”

MEDIA: To arrange an interview with Carolyn Bond or Susan Fahey please contact Jackie Hanafie on 0410 631 404.

Download this media release (PDF).