ACT Community Legal Centres welcome ACT Attorney General’s support for Legal Assistance Services

Five of Canberra’s Community Legal Centres have welcomed calls from ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell for expanded funding and his acknowledgement of shared responsibility to protect the delivery of frontline legal services to those most vulnerable within our community.

Joint Press Release

Environmental Defenders Office - ACT

Women’s Legal Centre (ACT & Region)

Legal Aid ACT

Tenants Union - ACT

Welfare Rights and Legal Centre - ACT

ACT Community Legal Centres welcome ACT Attorney General’s support for Legal Assistance Services 

2 February 2015

Five of Canberra’s Community Legal Centres have welcomed calls from ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell for expanded funding and his acknowledgement of shared responsibility to protect the delivery of frontline legal services to those most vulnerable within our community.

The Attorney General’s comments are welcomed by the Environmental Defenders’ Office - ACT, Women’s Legal Centre (ACT & Region), Legal Aid ACT, Tenants Union - ACT, and the Welfare Rights and Legal Centre - ACT following the Attorney General’s address to the Commencement of the 2015 Legal Year Ceremony.

The legal centres are today calling for all levels of Government to support the valuable front-line services delivered by Community Legal Centres in the ACT. This follows the recent Productivity Commission findings that both public and private support to legal aid providers should be increased to ensure these organisations can continue their vital work.

“It is encouraging to hear ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell speak out in defence of community legal centres at a time when funding across the whole sector is rapidly being slashed. All levels of Government have a role in supporting legal aid,” Environmental Defenders’ Office CEO Camilla Taylor said.

“The Productivity Commission has endorsed the invaluable role community legal centres play in ensuring that we have a fair and equitable legal system, this particularly includes access to free legal aid for matters involving vulnerable women and children, Indigenous Australians and the environment”

The five centres also welcome calls from newly awarded Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, for Governments to recognise the value delivered to the community by Community Legal Centres, particularly frontline services for at-risk women and children.

“Cuts to funding results in cuts to frontline services, and this impacts on our ability to provide essential support to some of our community’s most vulnerable, putting women and children at risk”.  Women’s Legal Centre (ACT & Region) Executive Director, Heidi Yates said.

“Specialist Community Legal Centres are an efficient, effective investment for Government, delivering essential frontline services to those who need them most.”

The Women’s Legal Centre (ACT & Region), Legal Aid ACT, and the Welfare Rights and Legal Centre - ACT will suffer due to already announced cuts, with potentially more cuts to come. The Environmental Defenders’ Office - ACT had all Federal Government support cut in December 2013.

Recent funding cuts to ACT legal assistance services include a loss of over $300,000 in Legal Aid funding, the Environmental Defenders’ Office - ACT losing $100,000, the Women’s Legal Centre losing $50,000 and the Welfare Rights and Legal Centre are left $60,000 worse off.

“We have had a very positive response from the ACT community in response to the loss of funding, however, as the Productivity Commission found, there is a strong argument for Governments to provide funding for legal aid”. Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid ACT, Mr John Boersig said.

“Strong and effective community legal centres improve outcomes for at-risk members of our community, who would not otherwise be able to afford legal assistance, as well as improving the wider justice system, keeping courts efficient and fair.” Mr Boersig said.

Contacts 

Camilla Taylor
Principal Solicitor
Environmental Defenders’ Office - ACT
m. 0419 298 886 

Heidi Yates
Executive Director
Women’s Legal Centre (ACT & Region)
m. 0410 417 184
p. (02) 6257 4377 

John Boersig
Chief Executive Officer
Legal Aid ACT
02 6243 3496

 


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