Leading Community Law advocates await Attorney-Generalís vision for legal assistance sector
Hundreds of Australia’s leading Community Law advocates at the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) National CLCs Conference held an urgent meeting last night to discuss funding and administration of Community Legal Centres.
Representatives of Community Legal Centres from all states and territories expressed concern about the inadequacy of current funding, immediate funding cuts in some jurisdictions and uncertainty about funding in the future.
Michael Smith, Chair of the NACLC Board, said “the Federal Government has signed a new 5 year National Partnership Agreement (NPA) with all the states and territories. Unfortunately, the NPA locks in significant funding cuts now in some jurisdictions and a 30% cut nationally from 2017-2018.”
“Community Legal Centres were greatly relieved by the Government’s reversal of funding cuts announced in March, but the new NPA confirms this is only a temporary stay, rather than an ongoing commitment. This is at odds with their rhetoric on the crisis in family violence across Australia.”
Delegates also expressed disappointment at the level of funding and support received from many State and Territory Governments. “The NPA represents a missed opportunity to encourage greater cooperation and joint responsibility for funding of Community Legal Centres from the Commonwealth as well as State and Territory Governments,” added Mr Smith.
In considering the next steps for the sector, delegates keenly await a presentation from Attorney-General, George Brandis, who is closing the Conference on Thursday, about the Government’s vision for legal assistance services into the future.
“We’re delighted that the Attorney-General will have the opportunity to hear from centres first-hand. We look forward to sharing with him the challenges we face across Australia in meeting the crisis in legal help and hearing about the Government’s plans for the legal assistance sector” concluded Mr Smith.
For comment contact:
Michael Smith, NACLC Chair, 0421 437 883
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