26 March, 2017
Community legal centres (CLCs) provide hundreds of thousands of hours of free legal assistance to the most needy people in our society. Despite all the people who volunteer and professionals who do pro bono work, they still need funding to function. The Federal Government does not agree, and had been decreasing funding to CLCs over time. This has reached a situation where they reported having to turn away nearly 160,000 people in the 2014⁄15 financial year - 2⁄3 of them because of insufficient resources.
Current funding from the Federal Government is due to end at the end of this financial year, and there is no indication that it will be renewed. This is a matter of such concern that Deans of over thirty law schools in Australia have written a letter calling renewed funding.
Lack of renewal would leave the Australian legal system in crisis.
Lawyers working in legal centres spend most of their time helping out people who are unable to help themselves.
This brings up policy questions about what the Federal government is doing. For example, have they prioritised tax cuts to profitable companies ahead of the wellbeing of their citizens?