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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for Training and Skills
    The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

    Federal Government urged to reverse CLC cuts

    Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for Training and Skills
    The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

    Federal Government urged to reverse CLC cuts

    Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath has today joined with Queensland Law Society President Christine Smyth and Community Legal Centres Queensland Director James Farrell to call on the Federal Government to reverse its cuts to vital community legal services.

    Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the $2 million cuts to Queensland Community Legal Centres would hit Queenslanders who need the most support.

    “It is everyday Queenslanders who access these legal services – mums and dads, grandparents, young people, tenants, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people with a disability, people with mental health issues, and the list goes on.

    “They are people who cannot afford a lawyer and are not eligible for government legal aid.

    “Some of them are among the most vulnerable in Queensland and we need to support them, not cut vital assistance.”

    Mrs D’Ath said these funding cuts would mean Community Legal Centres could be forced to sack staff and cut services.

    “Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Federal Attorney-General George Brandis need to change this year’s budget to put the funding back in and to make sure we are standing up for the most vulnerable in our communities.

    “Shortly the Palaszczuk Government will be announcing the next three-year funding round for Community Legal Centres and although we will be increasing the State funding over those three years, because of the Commonwealth’s decision, many centres will still see a real cut in funding.”

    Queensland Law Society President Christine Smyth said the impact of these cuts would largely affect the vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our society.

    “It will have a significant economic impact as people dedicated to social justice who work in CLCs will lose their jobs,” Ms Smyth said.

    “They have families to feed as well. This will place greater burden on the remaining CLC workforce to serve the needs of the community.

    “It will create a skills gap for emerging solicitors who volunteer their time to assist at our CLCs as the remaining workforce will be unable to properly supervise volunteers, which means even greater pressure on a system that is crumbling under the weight of this assault.

    “For those who visit a community legal centre as a last resort, we will see catastrophic consequences which may include being put through the revolving door of justice or even homelessness.”

    National funding for Community Legal Centres will be slashed by $12 million across the country.

    Community Legal Centres Queensland Director James Farrell said Queensland’s portion of $2 million in cuts was a relatively small amount in the context of the Federal Budget but that it would impact on thousands of people.

    Mr Farrell said only half the people who contact a Community Legal Centre will have access to the help they need.

    “The remaining 50 per cent are turned away because we just don’t have the resources we need to provide help for everyone who qualifies,” he said.

    “We are asking the Federal Government to reverse their funding decision to ensure that the vulnerable people who come to our centres get the legal help they need and the justice they deserve.”

     

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