Coalition backflip gives legal aid reprieve

Published on Monday, 24 April 2017 17:13

Federal Labor Member for Fremantle, Josh Wilson MP, today welcomed the Turnbull Government’s funding backflip which will see $55.7 million returned to Community Legal Centres across the nation.

“I’ve been calling for this harmful and senseless funding cut to be abandoned since my election last July. It was unacceptable for the Coalition to withdraw support for access to justice in Australia. While today’s announcement is good news for this important community service sector and for the vulnerable people it serves, we should never have been in this position,” said Mr Wilson.

“I congratulate the CLC members and the community service sector for their concerted campaign against the proposed cuts. As I said in my speech to parliament earlier this year, legal staff who work in CLCs really are the best of the best in terms of their commitment to helping people pull back from the brink. By forcing the government to backflip on their dangerous funding cuts, this campaign will make a big difference to thousands of Australians in crisis.”

The Productivity Commission has found that every dollar invested in CLCs delivers $17 of community value. Previous studies have shown that every dollar invested in CLCs saves a further $4 being pushed onto another part of the social safety net.

The Fremantle Community Legal Centre’s essential work supports people dealing with eviction, bankruptcy and domestic violence. Seventy-two per cent of its clients earn less than $40,000 a year; 21 per cent have mental health issues or are people with disability; 27 per cent are single parents; and 10 per cent are Indigenous Australians. Over the last three years the number of clients with family or domestic violence issues has increased, but, as a result of previous funding cuts, the number of clients the centre can assist has fallen by 17 per cent.

The Turnbull government had previously announced it would slash CLC funding by $35 million on 1 July.

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