On the 12th April NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman visited Western Sydney Community Legal Centre (WSCLC) following his announcement of $6 million in additional funding for CLCs in NSW.
The Attorney General met members of the WSCLC Management Committee and solicitors, as well as staff from our different services, including the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service and Western Sydney Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service.
The NSW government funding will help fill the void created by a pending reduction in funding by the federal government of 23 per cent across NSW.
WSCLC welcomes the funding announcement, and we appreciated the opportunity to meet with the Hon. Mark Speakman SC, MP when he visited. We are very grateful for the leadership shown by the NSW Attorney General, as well as recent support for our work expressed by Western Sydney Members of Parliament including Dr Geoff Lee MP, Julie Owens MP, Ed Husic MP, and Susan Templeman MP.
The funding will help WSCLC avoid any cuts to services, particularly in the Windsor catchment area.
However, increased Commonwealth funding for CLCs is still as important as ever. In 2014 the Productivity Commission recommended an immediate injection of $200million 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.
“The funding arrangements announced previously by the Commonwealth government required us to do more with less; the NSW Attorney General’s support creates a breathing space for us to properly plan and develop our services in a very new funding environment,” said WSCLC’s Jill Gientzotis.
“It is also important to recognise that there remains a substantial unmet demand in the community, which we will struggle to address while always aiming to grow our services by targeting those most in need,” Ms Gientzotis said.
“Further, we call upon the Federal Attorney General to restore funding across Australia, taking the burden off already struggling Community Legal Centres across the nation.”