Community Legal Centres
Community Legal Centres (CLCs) are independently operating not-for-profit, community-based organisations that provide legal services to the public, focussing on the disadvantaged and people with special needs.
Some CLCs offer specialist legal services in areas such as child support, credit and debt, environmental law, welfare rights, mental health, disability discrimination, tenancy, immigration, employment, the arts, etc. Some CLCs provide services targeted to particular groups, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, children and young people, women, older people, refugees, prisoners, and the homeless. There are around 200 CLCs across Australia.
The clients of CLCs are those who face economic, social or cultural disadvantage, are often experiencing multiple inter-related problems, and frequently their legal problem may affect their and their family’s entire life circumstances.
In 2010/2011, CLCs
- provided over 164,000 information, support and referral services
- provided more than 244,000 individual services
- worked on over 72,000 individual cases
- concluded 3,641 community legal education projects (and worked on many others into the new year)
- finalised 1,276 law or policy reform projects (and worked on many others into the next year.
CLCs are located throughout Australia in urban, regional and remote locations. They are part of their communities and respond flexibly to the changing needs of those communities, offering creative, effective and targeted solutions to legal problems. CLCs also consult and involve their communities in their operations and management, always striving to make their services accessible and appropriate, to listen to their communities about their understanding of their needs and the solutions they want. It is the relationship with their community that distinguishes CLCs from other legal services.
While providing legal services to individuals, CLCs also work beyond the individual. CLCs undertake community development, community legal education, capacity building and law and policy reform projects that are based on people’s needs, are preventative in outcome and strengthen and empower the community they serve.
Working with others
Some CLCs receive no or very little funding and are largely or entirely staffed by volunteers. All other CLCs receive funds from a variety of sources including state and federal governments and philanthropic organisations. The sector harnesses the energy and expertise of thousands of volunteers across the country. CLCs are committed to collaborating and working in partnership wherever possible, with government, legal aid and other publicly funded legal assistance service providers, pro bono contributors, the private legal profession, community services agencies and other community partners to ensure the best outcomes for their clients and prevent social exclusion.
If you are interested in a reading guide, about the CLC sector and its development please open the link: CLC reading guide (guide compiled by the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria) Inc)
CLCs are committed to striving for equitable access to the legal system and justice, and the equal protection of human rights.