The Legal Aid NSW decision to cut funding for Community Legal Centre Care Partners will have significant impacts on those living within the catchment of Western Sydney Community Legal Centre, being those living in the area that covers from Bucketty NSW 2250 in the north, to Greenacre NSW 2190 in the south, and from Mulgoa NSW 2745 in the west, and to North Ryde NSW 2113 in the east. As at 2018, the WSCLC catchment held a population of 1.5 million.
Louise Coady, Principal Solicitor of WSCLC states in response to this cut,
“Our work helps supports parents to create safe environments, keep their children in their care and make families stronger and more secure. This decision threatens that work and will have real impact on families that need our help. We have been given two months’ notice that our already limited child protection funding from Legal Aid NSW will be cut from 31 October. This funding program was reviewed and the decision made without engaging with or consulting organisations like ours that deliver these services.”
As the sole community legal centre for those living in Western Sydney, WSCLC helps everyone in the community, with a particular focus on those deemed most vulnerable within the community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, those in prison, those who have experienced or are experiencing domestic or family violence and families at risk of having children removed from their care by Community Services.
In relation to the child protection services WSCLC has provided in the last 12 months includes close to 100 people assisted with legal advice, task work and representation services. Across the State, 12 community legal centres help over 800 families a year who are interacting with the child protection system, for a combined sum of $423,000. This doesn’t even account for various other supports community legal centres offer families needing help.
Louise further commented,
“As community-based organisations, we are here to advocate for and support parents, who can naturally be really nervous about engaging with government officials that have the power to remove their children. Taking children away from their families and putting them into Out of Home Care is damaging for the future of the children, their parents and the community. It’s also outrageously expensive. We need to do everything we can to support parents to keep their kids safe at home.”
The other community legal centres affected by this funding cut are:
Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre
Women’s Legal Service NSW
Intellectual Disability Rights Service
Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre
Central Coast Community Legal Centre
Macarthur Legal Centre
Western NSW Community Legal Centre
Shoalcoast Community Legal Centre
Hume Riverina Community Legal Service
Redfern Legal Centre
Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre
For further information, including correspondence between Community Legal Centres NSW and Legal Aid NSW online, please see the link here: https://www.clcnsw.org.au/community-based-child-protection-legal-help-under-threat
For comments or questions, please contact Western Sydney Community Legal Centre Limited on (02) 8833 0911.