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BUDGET: COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRES WELCOME MUCH-NEEDED FUNDING INCREASE AND COMMEND FAMILY VIOLENCE CENTREPIECE

The Victorian Federation of Community Legal Centres has strongly commended the Government’s $1.91 billion commitment to family violence prevention and support in today’s Victorian State Budget.

The Federation has also particularly welcomed funding of $14.5 million over four years for Victoria’s community legal centres.

This $14.5 million in funding includes:

-       Over $3 million per year for two years to boost overall services;

-       $1 million per year for four years to extend the Community Legal Assistance Fund;

-       $600,000 per year to support the critical integrated work that community legal centres do in working holistically with social workers, financial counseling and health services;

-       $275,000 per year for JobWatch – the only free legal advice provider specialising in employment law across the state;

-       $150,000 per year for the Federation of community legal Centres, to support the sector as centres deal with continuing increases in demand.

With demand up and community legal centres currently having to turn away thousands, this funding means that Victorians who are struggling to make ends meet, or facing crises in their lives caused by family violence, unemployment, consumer scams and insecure tenancies will now get the support that they need. Over 70% of CLC clients earn under $26,000 per year.

The Budget will provide an additional $50 million for family violence legal assistance, to be shared by Legal Aid and Community Legal Centres over four years.

This $50 million comes as part of an overall $1.91 billion to for the prevention of family violence and support for victims and survivors. It includes $4.6 million to extend existing duty lawyer and family violence services provided by community legal services. It will also fund new duty lawyering services in specialist family violence courts, which are an additional significant development being funded under this Budget.

There will also be an expansion of services for the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria, and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.

Quotes attributable to Federation Executive Director, Serina McDuff:

“The increase in funding for community legal services is a much welcome boost. Legal support at a time of crisis in people’s lives can be the difference between making it through, or losing everything. It will save lives.”

“Taken together, the increased funding for family violence legal assistance is an enormous step forward for Victoria. Many more people fleeing family violence, including Aboriginal people, culturally diverse people, people with a disability, and lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and intersex family violence victims and survivors, will now be able to receive the help they need,” said Ms McDuff.

“We commend the Victorian Government for keeping it’s promise to fully fund the implementation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, including by ensuring much needed funding for legal support services.”

“This is a budget which will save lives.”

For further comment please contact Director of Engagement, Melanie Poole on 0401 518 562

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