Federal budget funding cuts hurt community legal centres

ARC Justice executive officer Peter Noble

ARC Justice executive officer Peter Noble

Community legal centres stand to lose almost $35 million in federal funding by 2020, pushing services to the limit. 

ARC Justice executive officer Peter Noble said the 30 percent funding cut in the federal budget would mean “significant cuts to frontline services”. 

“The service that is most exposed is the Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre, which stands to lose one of its lawyers who predominantly works in family law and family violence,” he said.

“For the federal government not only to have ignored what the productivity commission has said in injecting further funds, but to seem to be proceeding with the threat to cut funds from July 1, 2017, is really horrendous.”

He said the productivity commission’s report recommended an immediate $200 million funding injection to meet the basic justice needs of all Australians. 

“Community legal centres have helped more than 215,000 people with free legal advice, but 160,000 were turned away… and that’s before any funding cuts,” Mr Noble said.

A National Legal Aid study last month found domestic violence was a factor in 81 percent of Victorian family law cases. 

Mr Noble said more money was required to deal with the suite of legal issues the victims of family violence present with. 

“The state government and federal government have joint responsibility for funding legal assistance services,” he said.

“It really requires more funding from the state government and especially the Commonwealth Government.”