On Monday 24th April, Federal Attorney General George Brandis and Senator Michaelia Cash announced that the government will not be pursuing the proposed funding cuts of 30% to the community legal sector.
WSCLC welcomes this announcement and thanks all those who worked hard to convince the government to reverse these cuts. This outcome would not have been possible without the outpouring of support in past months by a huge number of organisations and individual members of the community and the legal profession.
WSCLC would like to express special thanks to our supporters in Western Sydney such as Michael Adams, Dean of Law at Western Sydney University, and Western Sydney Members of Parliament including Dr Geoff Lee MP, Julie Owens MP, Ed Husic MP, and Susan Templeman MP. We would also like to thank and congratulate all of you who wrote to MPs, signed petitions and took action in support of #equaljustice!
The decision not to implement the funding cuts is a recognition of the vital work done by Community Legal Centres such as WSCLC. The communities we serve are those hardest hit by the cumulative effects of disadvantage, including poverty, family violence, and lack of access to services. Every day, our legal advice and assistance helps vulnerable people access justice and improve their lives.
The Federal Government announcement, in combination with the NSW Government announcement of funding for CLCs earlier this month, will mean Community Legal Centres will be able to continue to help those people.
However, WSCLC notes that despite this funding lifeline, there will continue to be vast unmet need for legal services in the community. In 2014 the Productivity Commission recommended an immediate injection of $200million into the legal assistance sector nationwide, simply to meet existing demand for services.
If we wish Australia to be a humane and fair society, then every person must be able to access their fundamental right to justice. Community Legal Centres are vital to making this happen.