QLS president Christine Smyth has welcomed the Queensland Attorney-General’s announcement that the state government would guarantee a further three months of funding to community legal centres (CLCs).
The news comes after the Federal Government announced in April that they would abandon planned funding cuts to CLCs in the latest budget, and revealed a further boost to some services.
“While we await further details of who receives funding from the federal government’s announcement, our CLCs have been put under added pressure – unsure of how much time they have left,” Ms Smyth said.
“Providing this three-month safety net provides a level of security to our CLC staff and the vulnerable members of our community that they assist.
“Not only do CLCs require the resources to continue on, they also have staff that have families to feed and bills to pay.
“I appreciate the Queensland Government’s acknowledgement – albeit a temporary reprieve – of this vital social infrastructure.”
Queensland Law Society had consistently advocated for a reversal of the planned cuts, and Ms Smyth reiterated that CLCs already turned away around 160,000 people each year.
“Tens of thousands of people are affected when funding is altered to legal assistance,” Ms Smyth said.
“I note that the funding boost announced by the federal government does not replace current funding as it is targeted to a select few areas.
“This is a concern as we will see vital community pillars closing their doors once their funding expires.”
She reiterated that the need for legal assistance continued to grow, meaning that it was necessary to not only maintain funding but also look at increasing resources.
“We must ensure our CLCs are sustainable well into the future, not just for a few months or years at a time.
“CLCs provide critical services to our disadvantaged and vulnerable and our governments need to ensure that access to justice is not undermined through funding fiddling.”