March 04, 2015 |
The Federation of Community Legal Centres has welcomed the announcement today of a $70m Federal Opposition initial investment to tackle family violence, including funding for legal services of $47.4m. Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has also committed to a national crisis summit, which has also been welcomed as a vital opportunity for coordinated national action on family violence.
“This announcement recognises the vital role of free legal help in keeping women safe from family violence, and rightly acknowledges that family violence is a national emergency,” said Liana Buchanan, Executive Officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres, today.
The announcement follows deep Federal Government cuts to legal assistance services in the last budget, and the prospect of further cuts in the next budget due in May. Legal centres across Victoria already struggle to meet demand and are facing cuts from July this year. These cuts will leave yet more victims of family violence unable to access critical legal help.
“Community legal centres play a key role ensuring women have legal protection from family violence, and can access the legal advice they often need before leaving a violent relationship. In Victoria alone, one in every three community legal centre cases involve helping a victim of family violence seek protection through the courts,” Ms Buchanan said.
“This vital funding commitment is consistent with the findings of the Productivity Commission that legal services are significantly underfunded, and, if implemented by a future Labor Federal Government, would go some way to helping community legal centres better respond to the many women and children affected by family violence,” Ms Buchanan said.