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Community legal centres’ impact more than “the vibe”

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Impact Report 2017-2018
Impact Report 2017-2018
Posted October 29, 2018

A Queensland-wide research project has revealed the significant positive effect community legal centres have on their communities.

Queensland’s 34 community legal centres helped 49,972 people over the last year.

Community Legal Centres Queensland’s Impact Report 2017/2018 was launched today by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice the Hon. Yvette D’Ath during the state-wide community legal centres Leadership Forum.

Community Legal Centres Queensland’s Director James Farrell said the Impact Report– a first for the sector – measures community legal centres’ relationships with clients, community partners, volunteers and the justice system to gauge what type of impact community legal centres really have on those they comes into contact with.

“Overall the report has provided us with very positive feedback about our work and the impact it has on our clients and the broader community,” he said.

More than 1,757 clients were surveyed in May 2018 and nearly all said they’d recommend their community legal centres to others, that they’d been listened to in a friendly and respectful way and importantly;

  • 94 per cent said staff helped them understand how to deal with their legal problem and provided them with options; and
  • 94 per cent said they know where to get help if they have another legal problem in future.

Mr Farrell said most importantly clients reported decreased stress and anxiety, improved financial wellbeing, improved personal relationships, increased personal safety and decreased social inclusion.

“Forty-six per cent of people we helped have no or low incomes and 68 per cent indicated they were experiencing financial disadvantage, while 7 per cent of people we assisted are First Australians.

“So being able to reduce the extra stressors they’ve been experiencing makes a significant impact on their lives,” he said.

“Community legal centres provide services to people facing discrimination, hardship and economic disadvantage, and access to justice shouldn’t simply be dictated by the size of a person’s bank account.

“Our legal centres perform a vital role in our communities, helping people navigate through tough times, and our early support stops their problems spiraling out of control,” Mr Farrell said.

As the peak body for the sector, Community Legal Centres Queensland plays an important role in providing training and support to community legal centres and the community to support their work. Over the last year, community legal centres provided 917 legal educational activities and developed 128 community legal education resources.

“Many community legal centres partner with a neighbourhood centre, health centre, provide legal education to community groups or link with regional services to provide better access to justice,” Mr Farrell said.

“Examples of this include the education service YFS Legal provides to educate young people to prevent them getting in trouble with the law, or the work Cairns Community Legal Centre does with Cairns Hospital to provide weekly advice clinics at the hospital’s Mental Health Unit.”

Mr Farrell said community legal centres also advocated for improvements to legal policy and practice and contributed to 173 Law Reform projects and engaged with more than 2500 stakeholders over the last year.

The Impact Report is available online.