Queensland Law Society

Avoiding the fiscal cliff but still on the edge

On Monday morning, Queensland Law Society president Christine Smyth attended a press conference at the Women’s Legal Service where federal Attorney-General Senator George Brandis QC announced the reinstatement of funding to community legal centres across the country.

The announcement of new funding directed to family law, family violence and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service aims to provide security to the legal assistance sector and cancels the funding cuts which were previously announced.

“This additional $55.7 million to legal assistance services in Australia is very welcome,” president Smyth said.

“Had the previously announced funding cuts taken place, tens of thousands of people would have been unable to access basic legal assistance.”

President Smyth addressed the press conference to reiterate the growing need for legal assistance in Queensland, noting that the Society had lobbied long and hard for adequate funding since the cuts were announced.

“I would like to thank the Attorney-General for recognising the important role that community legal centres play in our local communities, and I appreciate that he has heard our call for restoration of funding,” she said.

“However, it must be reiterated that while we have avoided going over the funding cliff, we are still standing on the edge.

“Given the growing need, simply maintaining the current funding remains a case of one-step forward and two steps back.

“We must grow funding to help the vulnerable members of our communities who are suffering problems of unemployment, housing and family issues.”

President Smyth explained that many CLC clients visit the centres as a last resort, with this reinstatement of funding assisting them in avoiding the revolving door of justice.

“This is a win-win for both our profession and our community, and Queensland Law Society stands ready to assist the government in any way we can.”