QLS backs call for Federal Government to reinstate community legal centre funding
1 March 2017
Queensland Law Society has backed the state government’s call demanding the Federal Government immediately reverse its decision to slash $3 million in vital community legal services funding to ensure society’s most vulnerable people have access to justice.
President Christine Smyth said QLS had waged a long and hard campaign against the federal goverment’s decision to cut funding to Queensland CLCs.
“Queensland’s CLCs are in a state of crisis and headed toward a funding cliff due to a lack of federal funding – meaning justice is being denied to tens of thousands of people each year," Ms Smyth said.
“Successive federal governments have ripped millions of dollars from CLCs – crippling a vital justice safety net."
Ms Smyth’s comments follow today’s (WED MAR 1) call by the Queensland government for the federal government to overturn a decision that drastically cuts funding earmarked annually for CLC’s to provide legal services to the state’s most disadvantaged.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the federal government’s cuts to CLCs would stop Queenslanders being able to access critical legal help.
In November, QLS joined more than 60,000 solicitors across Australia to pen an open letter – published in The Australian newspaper – imploring the federal government to supply sufficient funds to guarantee access to justice for the nation’s most impoverished and vulnerable citizens.
Ms Smyth said CLCs provided critical and vital legal assistance and advice to people excluded from receiving legal aid in cases such as family and domestic violence, housing, employment and social security matters.
“During the past year alone community legal centres across Australia have turned away more than 160,000 disadvantaged and vulnerable people due to reductions in capacity and staff numbers to deal with requests for assistance,” she said.
“It is a fundamental component of the rule of law that access to justice be available to all," she said.
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