Chesters cautiously welcomes legal centre funding backflip

Lisa Chesters MP cautiously welcomes today's announcement of a reversal in cuts to Community Legal Centres and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.

Labor has been protesting these cuts for years, arguing vulnerable Australians in need of free legal services - including domestic violence victims - would suffer.

The Liberal Government had planned to cut funding to CLC by 30% on 1 July this year, making it impossible to maintain the services currently being provided.

Loddon Campaspe CLC would have lost $121,000 from their budget.

“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 were going to miss out on the legal assistance they need.

“While the reversal of these cuts is welcome, it is beyond time for the Coalition and George Brandis to stop toying with the funding of these vital services. They deserve stability and predictable funding.
“The uncertainty faced by the centres in recent months and years has been incredibly damaging, with many already losing experienced staff and unable to plan for the future. It’s unacceptable.”

In early April, Loddon Campaspe CLC Executive Officer Hayley Mansfield said the cuts would have a severe impact on the centre and its clients.

“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,” Ms Mansfield said.

“[If the Liberal Government cuts came into effect] we would have to cut back on our advice and casework services. Women and children fleeing family violence would suffer the most and it would increase demand on other services such as health care, housing and child protection.”