NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman today announced over $6 million over two years in additional funding for community legal centres in NSW, stepping in to fill the void created by a pending reduction in funding by the federal government of 23 per cent in NSW.
Community Legal Centres NSW (CLCNSW) Chair Dr Linda Tucker welcomed the announcement but noted that increased Commonwealth funding for CLCs was as important as ever.
“This NSW government funding will put an end to planned staff cuts, service reductions and outreach closures at community legal centres across NSW, ensuring that hundreds of people and communities across NSW won’t lose access to the legal assistance they need,” she said.
“The NSW government has effectively increased its contribution to our sector by 50 per cent, the largest annual increase from the state government for two decades. We thank the NSW Attorney General for recognising the essential work done by community legal centres and stepping in to fill this gap.
“In 2014 the Productivity Commission recommended an immediate injection of $200 million into the legal assistance sector nationwide, simply to meet existing demand for services. Instead, the Commonwealth Government has refused to extend funding to the sector, amounting to a 30 per cent cut nationwide.
“Community legal centres make a little money go a long way. From tenancy and debt help, to child protection and domestic violence, our early intervention work saves people from further emotional and physical harm, preventing knock-on effects across the wider justice and health systems.
“This funding announcement will be welcomed across the NSW legal community. Now we need the federal government to chip in their fair share, so CLCs can meet existing demand and ensure that everyone has access to justice,” Dr Tucker said.
The community legal centres (CLCs) particularly impacted by this announcement are: Women’s Legal Service NSW, Kingsford Legal Centre, Redfern Legal Centre, Immigration Advice & Rights Centre (IARC), Western Sydney CLC, Environmental Defender’s Office NSW (EDO NSW), Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), Illawarra Legal Centre, Elizabeth Evatt CLC in Katoomba, and Northern Rivers CLC.