STATE PICKS UP FEDERAL LEGAL FUNDING SLACK

STATE PICKS UP FEDERAL LEGAL FUNDING SLACK

CAXTON Legal Centre is one of several Queensland community legal services set to receive funds from the Palaszczuk government as a temporary buffer for proposed federal funding cuts beyond 2017.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D'Ath says the total $2.7 million figure will be aimed at assisting families and their children, in particular those affected by the scourge of domestic violence.

"This vital funding, which was made available to existing community legal centres, will bring additional support to vulnerable Queenslanders in the areas of family, domestic and family violence and child protection law," says D'Ath.

The temporary funding granted through the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services will translate to services across nine major Queensland community legal services from early 2016 through to 30 June 2017.

Caxton Legal Centre Inc will be granted $235,000 from the overall pool, allocated specifically to remove the centre's need for external referrals in assisting with child protection matters.

Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House (QPILCH) will receive $150,000 to be directed towards personalised legal services for young people transitioning out of the child protection system. 

Disadvantaged Australians facing employment law issues will benefit from further services offered as a result of $750,000 being allocated across the state.

People suffering mental health issues, intellectual disability or cognitive impairment will also receive further services due to a $350,000 boost.

The Queensland Law Society has welcomed the Government's commitment to $2.7 million in additional funding.

The Society and the Law Council of Australia says it has repeatedly requested more Commonwealth funding for legal assistance services and is pleased with the short-term solution.

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts cautions that there is more to be done to make justice accessible to those who need to access it the most.

"CLCs are still turning away more people than they can help - both Legal Aid and CLCs need significant additional funding from the Commonwealth," he says.

Last year, it was reported that more than 80,000 people were turned away from CLCs with staff unable to answer calls, allocate appointments or provide further resource-intensive services. In the same year, CLCs report they provided nearly 50,000 Queenslanders with legal assistance.

"Community legal centres and the Legal Aid system provide an invaluable service to vulnerable Australians," says Potts.

"This work is integral for keeping the fabric of local communities together for the most disadvantaged and working Queenslanders.

"Although this announcement is welcome, there is still a long way to go to ensure that vulnerable Queenslanders receive the assistance that they require.

"Commonwealth funding for Legal Aid has been reduced. CLCs particularly face a Commonwealth funding fiscal cliff in 2017. The Society pleads with the Federal Government not to proceed with its plan to slash funding to Queensland community legal centres in 2017."

The Attorney-General says state and territory governments will keep pressuring the federal government not to withdraw funding from community legal centres in two years' time.

"State and territory attorneys-general lobbied hard to convince the federal government to maintain funding levels for the next two years but after that they will plummet," says D'Ath.

"The Palaszczuk Government will continue to call on the federal government not to proceed with its plan to slash funding to Queensland community legal centres by $2 million in 2017."

 

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