In a motion led by Greens Senator Larissa Waters, additional funding for Queensland community legal centres has been passed.
The motion was welcomed by the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) and the Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services (QAILS), who said urgent legal funding beyond 2017 remains uncertain, despite the government cancelling some cuts.
The motion follows Productivity Commission recommendation for an immediate injection of $200 million per annum to legal assistance services.
“Community legal centres play a vital role in assisting vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community. We are pleased this motion has acknowledged that role and the need for additional funding,” Michael Smith, NACLC chair told Australasian Lawyer.
"There has been no funding announcement beyond June 2017 and those planned cuts remain in place. While the Australian Government cancelled the cuts scheduled for June 2015, the ongoing uncertainty placed many programs and services at risk.”
Smith said that the rising increase in CLC demand is largely due to the rising awareness of family violence and improved police response, coupled with CLC services becoming more widely understood.
“Fifty per cent of Queenslanders will experience a legal problem this year and of this group we can only see six out of ten people. Queensland’s community legal centres turn away more clients than any other state. This motion is an important one and could help encourage all levels of Government to commit additional funding that would ensure CLCs could help people missing out on the legal help they need,” said James Farrell, QAILS director.
“It's reaching crisis proportions, and we do need governments to continue to work with us to increase access to legal services.”