STATE PICKS UP FEDERAL LEGAL FUNDING SLACK
Written on the 22 January 2016
CAXTON Legal Centre is one of several Queensland community legal services set to receive funds from the Palaszczuk government as a temporary buffer for proposed federal funding cuts beyond 2017.
The Queensland Law Society has welcomed the Government's commitment to $2.7 million in additional funding.
The Society and the Law Council of Australia says it has repeatedly requested more Commonwealth funding for legal assistance services and is pleased with the short-term solution.
Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts 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 says.
Last year, it was reported that more than 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," says Potts.
"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."
The Attorney-General says state and territory governments will keep pressuring the federal government not to withdraw funding from community legal centres in two years' time.