The National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) is the peak national body for Community Legal Centres (CLCs) in Australia; NACLC's members are the state and territory peak bodies of Community Legal Centres. NACLC’s members are:
- Australian Capital Territory Association of Community Legal Centres (ACTACLC)
- Community Legal Centres New South Wales Inc (CLCNSW)
- Northern Territory Association of Community Legal Centres Inc (NTACLC)
- Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services Inc (QAILS)
- South Australian Council of Community Legal Services Inc (SACCLS)
- Community Legal Centres Tasmania Inc (CLCTas)
- Federation of Community Legal Centres Inc (Victoria)
- Community Legal Centres Association (WA) Inc
Together, these organisations represent around 200 Community Legal Centres in metropolitan, regional, rural and remote locations across Australia. Some Family Violence Prevention Legal Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Legal Services choose to join state and territory CLC associations and also come under the NACLC umbrella.
NACLC is established for the public charitable purposes of assisting disadvantaged and marginalised people in the Australian community obtain access to legal services by, including but not limited to:
- supporting and assisting Community Legal Centres to provide these services;
- providing a national forum for Community Legal Centres;
- developing and coordinating national Community Legal Centres policy; and
- advancing the interests of Community Legal Centres within Australia.
NACLC’s vision is:
Achieving rights, fairness and equality for our communities.
NACLC’s mission is that:
NACLC leads, connects and develops CLCs to pursue rights, fairness and equality for all communities.
NACLC’s strategic priorities are to:
- lead in good practice for NGOs by building the long-term viability and sustainability of NACLC’s governance, management and organisational structures
- advocate for access to justice and the promotion and protection of human rights
- proactively identify and respond to the sector-identified and sector-driven needs of CLCs
- develop, maintain and strengthen mutually beneficial collaborations with CLCs and with key stakeholders and peak bodies
- establish and support the operation of the knowmore legal advisory service.
NACLC’s work is wide ranging and includes providing a range of services directly to CLCs, practical and financial support to specialist National Networks of CLCs, and working collaboratively with CLCs on many law reform and other projects. NACLC also lobbies for funding for CLCs; represents CLCs in national forums, debates and negotiations; operates a National Accreditation Scheme for CLCs; and organises the annual National CLCs Conference.
NACLC also makes law reform and public policy submissions and undertakes social justice campaigns advocating for the legal protection of human rights, often in collaboration with CLCs and other NGOs.
NACLC actively supports CLCs and through them their client communities, by providing the following services for free or for a discounted fee including:
- highly discounted, CLC-tailored Professional Indemnity Insurance and Association Liability Insurance, facilitated by bulk purchase and extensive negotiation, and subsidised by NACLC garnering a one off grant from the Attorney-General’s Department. This service is complemented by the coordinated implementation of the National PII Scheme and Risk Management Guide and coordination and support of the National PII Network
- quality assurance and accreditation through the National Accreditation Scheme for CLCs (NAS). The Scheme is devised in an organisational development framework, and with resources and support to assist CLCs and their state and territory CLC associations to meet NAS requirements including an online NACLC standards portal, the Standards and Performance Pathways (SPP), which:
- allows a centre to conduct its self assessment online
- automatically creates an improvement work plan and a report against the standards with, if the worker elects to attach the centre's policies, procedures and other documents in support as they perform the self assessment, an evidence pack, and
- automatically populates an assessment and creates a workplan and report against any other SPP mapped CLC standards relevant to that centre, reducing the administrative workload on centres with multiple reporting obligations.
- access to Management Support Online (MSO), a web based integrated set of tools, templates and resources, designed to support centres in their management, governance and operations, including template policies and procedures, and induction and training modules
- access to over 90 free online legal resources, purchased from LexisNexis with funding from the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department. The package covers nearly all areas of law practised by CLCs
- Community Legal Education and Reform database (CLEAR), a database that allows easy access to and showcases community legal education and law reform projects undertaken by CLCs and other non profit legal services
- coordinated and facilitated placement of eligible graduate law students for their Practical Legal Training work experience in organisations from all four publicly funded legal assistance services, operating in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia. 53 law students – an average of one per week - were placed this year
- free training and support for using CLSIS - the database for CLCs in the CLC major funding program, the BBS and WebEx - an online training and collaboration program
- financial and other practical support, such as organising and paying for the cost of national phone meetings and a face to face meeting, for the National Networks of CLC workers specialising in particular areas of law or CLC services
- advice and assistance to individual centres and state and territory CLC associations in a range of areas including government priorities, funding opportunities and lobbying strategies, organisational development and sector issues and considerations.
NACLC represents the sector in a range of fora and advocates widely on behalf of CLCs with a range of stakeholders including the Commonwealth and state and territory program managers and with funding bodies. NACLC also undertakes many initiatives to raise the profile of CLCs nationally and internationally. Some examples of these types of work include:
- NACLC represents the CLC sector on national bodies such as the Australian Legal Assistance Forum the National Legal Assistance Data Standards Working Group and at forums in collaboration with other peaks such as ACOSS
- representation and negotiation on behalf of the sector with the managers, Commonwealth and state, of the Community Legal Services Program (CLSP), the main funding program for CLCs, in relation to the funding and administration of the program as it affects CLCs, including negotiation in relation to Service Agreements, Program Guidelines and compliance and reporting requirements for CLCs
- advocating nationally, and sometimes internationally, in the interests of the sector and its clients. For example, NACLC was actively involved in coordinating engagement, along with the Human Rights Law Centre and Kingsford Legal Centre, by a large coalition of NGOs in Australia’s Universal Periodic Review
- NACLC makes numerous submissions either on its own or jointly with other state and territory CLCs associations, National Networks or individual CLCs. For example, submissions to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Freedoms Inquiry, joint submission on the Domestic Violence Inquiry, submission on the Senate Inquiry on Budget Cuts.
NACLC provides a suite of communications tools, resources and opportunities including:
- undertaking the National Census of CLCs to gather information on the views and needs of individual CLCs and state and territory CLC associations, in order to better support and to lobby on behalf of, the sector
- performing a communication and liaison role, recognised and funded by the Commonwealth, between the sector and the CLSP
- producing hardcopy newsletters and regular and ad hoc e-bulletins that inform the sector about government legal assistance reforms and funding decisions, current issues or trends in the sector, innovative initiatives of CLCs, summaries of media mentions of CLCs and their associations, and lobbying actions undertaken on behalf of the sector
- issuing media releases and securing media attention, whereby NACLC raises CLC issues on a broader scale
- producing the Directory of Australian and NZ CLCs
- producing and distributing a range of publications and other promotional material that show the work and value of CLCs and to assist them with their own advocacy work. For example the Real Law Real People publication – that tells the stories of five lawyers and how they came to be working in regional, rural and remote areas of New South Wales, and what they have gained from doing so
- holding an annual National CLCs Conference, a unique opportunity for CLC workers to access relevant professional development, share information, showcase their work, and network
- obtaining funding and sponsorship from government and other funding bodies, and pro bono schemes in private law firms, that enable NACLC to provide subsidies to many Aboriginal and other CLC workers from regional, rural and remote areas to attend the National Conference and National Networks meeting day.