May 20, 2021 |
The Federation of Community Legal Centres strongly commends the Victorian government’s $3.8 billion commitment rebuilding Victoria’s mental health system in today’s State Budget.
We applaud the government’s decision to commit funding to victims of crime. Legal assistance is vital to ensuring that victim-survivors can navigate the new financial assistance scheme.
Furthermore, we welcome the funding for legal services in The Orange Door network, which reflects an important commitment to supporting victim-survivors of family violence.
For a community who face systemic disadvantage, discrimination, and inequality, we welcome the funding for Victoria’s LGBTIQ+ community services.
We hope to see some of the LGBTIQ+ services funding dedicated to legal need, to ensure the LGBTIQ+ community has secure and consistent access to justice.
We are encouraged by the Victorian government’s prioritisation of these issues that have had enduring adverse effects on our communities.
For the 2021-22 budget, we also welcome the funding of:
- $21.9 million in support for victim-survivors of family violence
- $78 million to establish Specialist Family Violence Courts at Broadmeadows, Dandenong, Geelong, Latrobe Valley, Melbourne, Ringwood and Sunshine
- $10.1 million for legal assistance and critical early intervention support services
- $60.5 million for initiatives to fast-track Victoria’s recovery from the 2019-2020 Victorian bushfires
While we recognise these important investments, we also know that legal need has been expanding.
While we welcome the substantial investment of $448 million for the state’s Aboriginal communities, we acknowledge that the funding requirements of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service remain largely unmet.
Aboriginal people, who face additional complex barriers to justice and systemic disadvantage and racism in the system, need extensive and culturally appropriate legal support.
Major crises like COVID-19 necessitate an ongoing legal response, one that will almost always exceed the duration of the frontline health response.
Given the ability of our CLC sector to intervene early and prevent ongoing cost to government, this reduces pressure and cost on the entire support system.
In particular, more substantial integrated services funding would enable CLCs to better support their communities and reach those not yet aware of the legal nature of their health, financial, or social concerns.
We look forward to working with the Victorian government into the future to ensure sustained investment in the community.
Kris Wallwork, Chair of the Federation’s board, states “the Federation welcomes the opportunity to advocate to the Victorian government around the needs of the community for funding in the future, and to continue to advance our evidence-based and community-informed approaches.”
All comments can be attributed to Kris Wallwork.
Quotes attributable to Kris Wallwork, Chair of the Federation’s board
“The targeted funding for legal assistance in The Orange Door network comes at a crucial time for victim-survivors. This decision indicates legal assistance is now perceived as an essential part of family violence assistance and response. Throughout the course of the pandemic, community legal centres demonstrated that they could effectively reach women, where other services could not. CLCs will be better resourced to work with domestic and family violence colleagues across the sector to ensure victim-survivors are safe.”
“We welcome funding to improve the response to victims of crime. In all capacities, victim-survivors require better support. Legal assistance is vital to assist victims of crime, in particular to navigate the new financial assistance scheme. Community lawyers can work closely with victim support services to ensure a range of needs are met, including assistance with legal problems and ways to prevent them from escalating.”
“The Federation welcomes the opportunity to advocate to the Victorian government around the needs of the community for funding in the future, and to continue to advance our evidence-based and community-informed approaches.”