June 29, 2020 |
The Federation of Community Legal Centres has welcomed more than $14 million over two years in State and Federal Government funding for Victorian Community Legal Centres in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy announced in May that an additional $17.5 million would be provided to help frontline legal assistance services respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This followed the Federal Government’s announcement of an additional $63.3 million for legal assistance across the country, including $12.09 million for Victoria.
The Community Legal Centre sector was awarded almost half of all the funding allocated.
Community Legal Centres are at the front line of helping Victorians access justice, including women and children experiencing family violence, tenants unfairly facing eviction, people targeted by consumer scams and those people who have unfairly lost their jobs.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began, the demand for community legal help has increased significantly and delivering services in isolation has provided added challenges for the sector.
Federation of Community Legal Centres Director of Policy and Engagement, Shorna Moore, said the funding would help Community Legal Centres meet this increased demand and help offset the costs of changed working conditions in response to the pandemic.
“Community Legal Centres are at the front line when it comes to protecting Victorians’ right to a fair and just society,” she said.
“COVID-19 has had unimaginable consequences for many in the community, including for many who have had to access services they never thought they would need.
“We need to ensure every Victorian has access to justice and to the services they need and this increased funding will better help us meet those needs.”
The Federation of Community Legal Centres worked on behalf of the sector to campaign for extra funding to help support the increased demand and more challenging remote operations that Community Legal Centres have faced under COVID-19.
In total, the Community Legal Centre sector will receive $14.194 million over two years to support the delivery of essential legal assistant services.
The overall funding includes a combination of support for service delivery and ICT purposes. The funding also takes into account the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery in rural and regional areas, to services in Melbourne’s growth corridors and specific demand in a number of specialist areas.