Legal Aid rallies for sufficient funding

Updated November 7 2012 - 2:09am, first published April 28 2010 - 12:34pm

STAFF at the Bendigo Community Legal Centre are waiting on the state and federal budgets after claims those using the system are suffering.The centre was represented at a rally yesterday which highlighted cuts to Legal Aid services for family and criminal cases.Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre principle solicitor Peter Noble said the centre and Legal Aid needed ongoing support from the state and federal governments to continue to ensure access for those in need, particularly where family law was involved.Lawyers and social justice supporters rallied outside Melbourne’s County Court.However, the state government yesterday announced the state budget would include more than $60 million over five years for more judges and magistrates plus an additional $24 million a year ongoing funding.Mr Noble said the funding would only meet the short-fall of federal funding within the Legal Aid budget.He said all eyes were now on the federal government.“Without a significant increase in funding from the state and federal governments, the centre would struggle to meet existing and emerging needs in the region,” he said.“There are overwhelming needs around family violence and breakdown, legal needs of elderly people, and legal assistance for newly arrived migrants, to name a few.”Mr Noble said Federal Member for Bendigo Steve Gibbons had been supportive of the service in the past, helping to secure one-off funding.“We are now looking to the federal government to make a long-term commitment to fund legal aid and community legal services that will assist people in a meaningful and sustained manner.”

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