The recent Answer by Qld Government to the Question on Notice by Ros Bates MP was essentially: There’s probably no need for more than one community legal centre in the city of Gold Coast. We may consider funding RCLC but not before 2017. In the meantime RCLC should consider private funding.
We respectfully do not agree with this point of view:
Robina Community Legal Centre Inc. commenced operations in February 2014 as Gold Coast’s second CLC and became a nationally accredited community legal centre in December 2014.
If the Southport, Gold Coast Legal Service is conflicted out we are the only other community legal centre in the city in our practice areas of: family law and domestic violence, civil disputes, consumer, debt, tenancy, neighbourhood, crime, micro business, employment and migration law. Legal Aid does not practice in most of these areas and telephone help lines are often not appropriate.
RCLC is one of two nationally-accredited CLC’s in Qld not yet funded by state or federal government. Compared with organisations that are mostly staffed by paid employees, we are the most efficient model because we are all volunteers. The biggest overhead for most organisations is wages / salaries; RCLC has none.
Administrative staff are relatively inexpensive to hire. Our volunteer practioners are highly experienced and attract charge rates of between $300 to $600 per hour. They are some of the best lawyers in the city but donate their time to RCLC clients, pro bono publico.
Most astonishing of all: Seven organisations are not registered QAILS members, nor are nationally accredited community legal centres but are nevertheless funded in the total sum of $4 million from Qld community legal centre funding. They are also being preferred over RCLC for 2015 federal funding allocation generally and/or the next two years.
We wish to again acknowledge the support of our partners, without whom this initiative would not have been possible: Gold Coast District Law Association, Queensland Law Society, City of Gold Coast and Cr Jan Grew, Bond University and Griffith University.
RCLC asks no more than for the right to tender for Qld and Cth government funding. Gold Coast, a city of some 550,000 residents, is a universally recognised priority need area for community legal services and the Gold Coast legal profession volunteers want to do more front line services and less administration.