Queensland Law Society welcomes short-term funding but the fiscal cliff looms
|| 18 Jan 2016
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Queensland Law Society has welcomed the Government’s commitment to $2.7 million in additional funding for nine community legal centres (CLCs) across Queensland until June 2017.
The Society and the Law Council of Australia have repeatedly requested more Commonwealth funding for legal assistance services. This pleasing short-term solution has been made through the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services between the Queensland and Federal Governments.
Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts praised the decision, but 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 said.
“Last year, it was reported that over 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. 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."
Queensland Law Society will continue to support the push for a sustainable and adequate funding model for legal assistance providers.