Queensland’s community legal centres have welcomed last night’s Budget announcement that increases federal funding by thirty per cent.  Vulnerable Queenslanders with legal problems will be able to access better funded services, which have historically been under resourced.

Federal funding to Queensland community legal centres will increase to over $7 million per year between 2015 and 2017.  Unfortunately the total funding available to community legal centres outside of Queensland has not increased.

‘Nearly half of all Queenslanders will experience a legal problem this year, and very few will be able to afford or access legal help’ said James Farrell, Director of Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services Inc (QAILS). ‘Last night’s announcement means more people will be able to get help when they’re facing a legal crisis.’

‘Currently, for every 4 people who get help from a community legal centre, we turn away another 3 because we don’t have the resources to provide them with the help that they need. Increased funding will mean that community legal centres will be able to assist more women and children seeking protection from family violence, disadvantaged people going unassisted with family law, housing problems, credit and debt issues, and workplace mistreatment,’ said Mr Farrell.

‘Last year, the Productivity Commission called for an urgent injection of $200 million for legal assistance services across Australia. The government has rejected that recommendation from its own expert economic advisers, and instead chosen to shift existing resources,’ said Mr Farrell.

‘The budget has resulted in winners and losers – Queensland’s community legal centres, and the clients and communities they help, are winners, but other parts of Australia will receive less funding, and the communities they work with will receive fewer services.’

‘The budget also shows that funding for community legal centres will drop from 2017/18, and communities will need to start thinking about how service closures will affect them down the track,’ said Mr Farrell.

‘State and Federal Governments can’t continue to kick the can on legal assistance funding; they need to provide service users with certainty, and make a meaningful commitment to ensuring Australians can access legal help when they need it.’

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Catherine Baker, Communication and Information Officer

Email: Communications@qails.org.au, Phone: (07) 3392 0092 / 0432 105 415

Notes to the editor:

QAILS – The Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services (QAILS) is the state based peak body representing funded and unfunded community legal centres operating throughout Queensland. There are 34 independent community legal centres in Queensland and over 200 throughout Australia. Queensland CLCs have over 30 years of service delivery experience providing free information, advice and referral, casework and representation to the community. For more information, visit www.qails.org.au.

 

Source: Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services