ALA calls for federal budget commitment to community legal services
1st Apr 2019
In the lead up the to the federal budget announcement, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) is calling on the government to significantly increase funding for community legal services.
“Without access to services like legal aid and community legal centres many people with legitimate claims and legal issues have no chance of obtaining justice,” said Ms Noor Blumer, National President, ALA.
“A failure to provide adequate funding to legal aid and community legal centres results in the most disadvantaged people in the community being unable to access timely, essential legal advice and information to help resolve their legal problems.”
In 2014 the Productivity Commission recommended an immediate injection of at least $120 million per year in additional funding for legal assistance sector, including at a minimum an additional $14.4 million per year to community legal centres (CLCs), amounting to at least $43.2 million between 2018-2019 and 2020-2021.
“Not only has the government failed to deliver on this recommendation to date but alarmingly there are cuts planned to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) budget,” said Ms Blumer.
“If these cuts proceed, this government will be responsible for exacerbating the legal injustices and mass incarcerations already being experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“Access to justice is a foundation issue for the ALA. Inadequate funding for legal aid and community legal centres undermines the ability of individuals to see protection and exercise their rights under the law.
“People are already falling through the cracks and more services are needed to ensure access to timely, essential legal advice.”
Community legal services provide advice on everything from tenancy to discrimination, domestic violence, employment, environmental, youth, family, civil and criminal law, small credit and debt matters, neighbour disputes, immigration advice, children’s court assistance, mediation, outreach legal services and Indigenous justice.