Federal cuts hit as community legal centres make the case for the vulnerable

March 19, 2015 |

Community legal centres have been in the national, state and local news as Federal Government cuts set to commence on 1 July begin to impact centres in Victoria and beyond.

Murray Mallee Community Legal Service and Far West Community Legal Centre (NSW) have already experienced staff losses as a result of cuts that will particularly impact women at risk of family violence. ARC Justice, Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre and Whittlesea Community Legal Service have also been in the news in anticipation of impacts from the funding cuts.

Yarra Ranges Community Legal Centre is among the Victorian centres that have been engaged in high profile and effective advocacy, and was successful last week in securing reinstatement of their funding. Despite this positive news for Yarra Ranges Community Legal Centre, the broader outlook for community legal centres remains very concerning nationally, as reflected in a recent joint letter from State and Territory Attorneys-General to Federal Attorney-General George Brandis describing the crisis in legal assistance funding and calling for urgent action in advance of the May Federal Budget.

Cuts announced in the 2014-15 Budget will see a 25 per cent reduction in funding of community legal centres by the Federal Government by 2017–18 ($44.6m in 2013–14 to $32.7m in 2017–18) – subject to the forthcoming Federal Budget (12 May).

In a media release last week, the Federation called on the Government to ‘acknowledge the scale of legal need against just $32.6 million coming to community legal centres from the Federal Government in 2017–18’.

The selection of media reports below has resulted from the media advocacy of community legal centres, the Federation and NACLC to keep Federal cuts firmly on the agenda.

Speeches in Federal Parliament

The Hon. Joanne Ryan MP
Member for Lalor
16 March 2015
(In support of Wyndham Legal Service)

The Hon. Rob Mitchell MP
Member for McEwen
25 February 2015
(In support of Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre)

For earlier media coverage, see In the Media on the Community Law Blog, this NACLC media update, or Community Legal Centres in the Media, an initiative of ARC Justice.

For live updates, please follow the Federation on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CommunitylawVic

This extract from our 2013–14 annual report provides a summary of Victorian community legal centre services.

For media inquiries or assistance, please call Darren Lewin-Hill, Communications Manager, on 0488 773 535, or email darren.lewin-hill@fclc.org.au

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