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The Federation of Community Legal Centres welcomes the Federal Government’s reversal of planned cuts to commonwealth funding of community legal centres, announced by Attorney General George Brandis this morning. We also welcome funding for ATSILS, crucial legal assistance services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

The cuts, which were due to reduce CLC funding by 30% from July 1 this year, would have been devastating for an already stretched sector. CLCs are already forced to turn away over 160,000 people each year due to inadequate resources.

In Victoria, centres were facing the reduction of critical services to women and children escaping family violence, people facing consumer scams, elderly people facing abuse, people at risk of homelessness and services in regional areas.   

The campaign to reverse the cuts, led by community legal centres across Australia, was joined by family violence survivor-advocates and family violence services, law societies, law firms and universities, all calling for the government to acknowledge the critical importance of the work of CLCs and reverse the cuts. Today, that call was answered.

The reversal of the federal cuts means that CLCs will be able to continue to assist people at existing service levels. Over 70% of the people that CLCs help earn below $26,000 per year, and 20% have a disability.

While the reversal is welcome relief for the sector and the community, it still falls drastically short of the Productivity Commission’s recommendation that legal services receive an urgent $200 million funding injection due to unprecedented demand.

Quotes attributable to CEO of the Federation of CLCs Victoria, Serina McDuff:

“This is wonderful news for our clients, communities and centres across Australia, who have been fighting for survival. We are glad that the government has heard the voices of the many family violence survivors and community members who have spoken out about the critical, lifesaving work that CLCs do.”

“The Attorney has thrown us a welcome lifeline. What we need now is a sustainable plan for the future.”

“For the thousands of women trapped in a cycle of violence, the most powerful and effective response requires legal help. Your access to legal help should not depend on your bank balance.”

For further information or to arrange interviews contact:

  • Serina McDuff, CEO, Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria -  0451 411 479
  • Melanie Poole, Director of Engagement, Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria – 0401 518 562

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