Community Legal Centre funding cuts must be reversed

Today Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC MP has met with staff at the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre to hear first-hand the devastating impact the Federal Government’s 30% funding cuts will have on the vital services this organisation provides.

Every day Community legal centres (CLCs) offer free legal advice to people who cannot afford it themselves, on issues as diverse as family violence, welfare, employment and tenancy issues.

On 1 July this year, Commonwealth funding to CLCs will be cut by 30% making it impossible to maintain the services currently being provided.

Even before the cuts, CLCs are being forced to turn 160,000 people away each year due to overcapacity issues.

“The Loddon Campaspe CLC in Bendigo has been leading the way in response to family violence with research and advocacy programs including the Will Somebody Listen to Me report, which looks at how to address gaps in the justice system for victims of family violence,” said Ms Chesters.

“The Liberal Government’s cuts put these programs at risk and vulnerable people in our community are going to miss out on the legal assistance they need.”

Loddon Campaspe CLC Executive Officer Hayley Mansfield said $121,000 will be lost from their budget when the cuts come into effect on 1 July.

“Last year we helped 2,347 clients – people who had nowhere else to turn for legal advice and support at a time of crisis in their lives.

“We will have to cut back on our advice and casework services. And women and children fleeing family violence will suffer most and it will increase demand on other services such as health care, housing and child protection,” Ms Mansfield said.

It is not too late for Prime Minister Turnbull to step in and reverse these cuts before they occur, and before the impact is felt nationwide.