Queensland Law Society

Cyclones and CLCs

Queensland Law Society president Christine Smyth this week witnessed firsthand the extraordinary work being done by solicitors and community legal centres (CLC) to help re-establish regions left devastated by the Cyclone Debbie weather event.

Ms Smyth and members of the QLS team joined Queensland’s Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath on a visit of the natural disaster regions across the state’s north in a bid to formulate strategies and to assist impacted communities during the rebuilding process.

“The legal profession has a long and proud history of helping out their fellow Queenslanders in times of crisis and natural disaster,” Ms Smyth said.

“It is very rewarding and gives me such pride as a fellow solicitor from a regional area to see members of the profession generously providing pro bono services of their own volition generally – but even more so in times of natural disaster.

“Solicitors are an essential part of the fabric within the communities they work in.

“Our local practitioners know firsthand the impact that a disaster such as this has on a community as it affects them also, and I have been inspired by the resilience of our members during this difficult time.”

This week Ms Smyth visited QLS members, regional leaders, CLCs and courthouses from Bowen to Arlie Beach and Proserpine to Mackay.

The previous week she also visited parts of Logan, Scenic Rim and the Gold Coast.

Today at a press conference Ms D’Ath said the Mackay Community Legal Centre had received about $1 million in funding to provide essential legal assistance to the community.

Ms D’Ath said the funds would be vital in the months ahead as the region recovers and rebuilds.

Ms Smyth said CLCs delivered a vital community service and that private solicitors also regularly provided free legal services to disadvantaged members of the Queensland community each year – with Queensland solicitors providing more than 290,000 hours of pro bono in 2015-16.

“Our solicitors carry out an important role in their local communities through voluntarily giving of their time each year,” she said.

“No other profession provides this amount of free community assistance in Queensland but this is no substitute for proper government funding of essential social services,” Ms Smyth said.

“The Federal Government must still provide adequate funding for basic social infrastructure.

“Government’s role is to provide essential services and infrastructure – legal advice is an essential social service, and one that is the responsibility of government to provide.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact Tony Keim on 07 3842 5835, mobile 0488 433 884 or via email, t.keim@qls.com.au.