MEDIA RELEASE: Canberra Community Legal Centres respond to the Federal Budget

CRISIS LOOMS FOR COMMUNITY LEGAL ADVICE IN CANBERRA

3 May 2016

Federal budget fails to secure legal assistance services for vulnerable Canberrans

Tonight’s budget has failed to reverse dramatic funding cuts to community legal centres projected to commence in July 2017.

In Canberra, the Women’s Legal Centre, the Care Consumer Law Centre, Canberra Community Law and the Tenants’ Union provide crucial support to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. They provide legal assistance to people who would otherwise go without. Together, these services provided over 6000 pieces of advice and took on over 500 cases over the last 12 months.

Community Legal Centres are funded by the Federal and ACT Governments, but Commonwealth contribution to funding to community legal centres in Canberra is due to plummet by almost 30% in July 2017. Canberra’s four Community Legal Centres have expressed disappointment these cuts were not reversed in tonight’s budget.

Deb Pippen, the Executive Officer at Tenants’ Union ACT said, “The looming crisis in community legal centre funding in Canberra will be felt by those people who need our support the most.”

Carmel Franklin, the Director of the Care Consumer Law Centre said, “The four community legal centres in Canberra provide specialist, community-based legal advice and case work in the areas of domestic violence and family law, tenancy and social security, discrimination and employment and consumer affairs.”

Elena Rosenman, Executive Director at the Women’s Legal Centre explained, “Support from Canberra’s community legal centres has helped women leave violent relationships, keep their kids safe and extract their finances from their violent partners. It has prevented people from becoming homeless and from losing their jobs due to discrimination.”

Genevieve Bolton, Executive Director at Canberra Community Law said, “Community Legal Centres in Canberra are facing a funding crisis in the next 12 months. Without accessible, free and community-based legal advice, the safety, security and independence of thousands of Canberrans will be put in jeopardy.”

Media contacts:
Elena Rosenman, Executive Director, Women’s Legal Centre, 0408 133 115
Genevieve Bolton, Executive Director, Canberra Community Law, 0417 192 780
Deb Pippen, Executive Officer, Tenants’ Union ACT, 02 6247 1026
Camel Franklin, Director Care Financial Counselling and Consumer Law Centre, 0402 011 600