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

Women’s Legal Centre welcomes new Principal Solicitor

The Women’s Legal Centre has appointed Claudia Maclean as the new Principal Solicitor.

Claudia joins the Centre with almost 10 years experience in private practice, predominately in family law. She has a Masters in Applied (Family) Law from the Australian National University.

Claudia has been active in the legal community throughout her career, working with the Women Lawyer’s Association ACT, the ACT Law Society Alternate Dispute Resolution Committee and the ACT Young Lawyers Association. She has previously donated her time to supporting free legal advice for Canberrans through the ACT Law Society’s Legal Advice Bureau and as a previous volunteer with the Women’s Legal Centre.

Claudia’s experience in the private and community sectors has given her a strong interest in the gap in legal services available for women who do not qualify for legal aid, yet cannot afford private representation.

In her role as Principal Solicitor with the Centre, Claudia’s priorities will include supporting the establishment of the new DV Unit, which will provide legal advice and representation to women experiencing family violence; increasing the Centre’s outreach practice; and working with the Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Program to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are able to access legal assistance and support.

Claudia will make an excellent addition to the leadership team at the Centre at a crucial time of growth and change.

 

For more information, please contact Elena Rosenman, Executive Director on 02 6257 4377 or erosenman@womenslegalact.org.

New Online Legal Toolkit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

ACTHRC logo     logo

15 March 2016

New Online Legal Toolkit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

The ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner and Women’s Legal Centre today launched a new Online Legal Toolkit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The toolkit has been developed by the ACT Human Rights Commission and the Women’s Legal Centre, in conjunction with the Aboriginal Legal Service and Care Inc.

‘The toolkit can be immediately accessed on people’s smart phones and devices when they find themselves in circumstances of high stress to negotiate issues,’ said Dr Helen Watchirs, Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner.

‘It gives useful and practical information on their rights in specific situations, and where to get help.’

‘At the Women’s Legal Centre we see many Aboriginal women who are facing workplace issues, family breakdown or are engaged with Child and Youth Protection Services,’ said Elena Rosenman, Executive Director of the Women’s Legal Centre.

‘Many of these women are involved with legal processes without any legal advice, which means they are at risk of making agreements or undertakings that do not respect their rights,’ continued Ms Rosenman. ‘This site will give all Aboriginal people in Canberra a starting point, some accessible information and point them in the direction of more assistance.’

The toolkit was developed based on feedback from the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. It includes information on:

  • Care and Protection
  • Discrimination at work
  • Police and security guard contact in public spaces
  • Debt and payday lenders

The toolkit can be accessed via internet web browsers on computers and tablets, as well as being added to the home screen of smart phones.

It is available for free at http://deadlyadvice.hrc.act.gov.au   

Media contact: Sean Costello, ACT Human Rights Commission  0424 369 231

Holiday Hours – 2015/16

The Women’s Legal Centre will be closed from midday on Thursday 24 December 2015 and will reopen at 9 am on Monday 4 January 2016.

Our Advice Line will be closed from Monday 21 December 2015 and will reopen on
Monday 18 January 2016.

If you are in immediate danger please ring Emergency Services on 000.

If you need assistance in regards to domestic violence please  Domestic Violence Crisis Service on  02 6280 0900 (available 24 hours a day, seven days a week). If you need legal advice the Legal Aid Advice line will be open from 4 January 2016. Please phone 1300 654 314, Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 5.00 pm.

 

New Federal funding to establish a specialist domestic violence unit

Friday 16 October 2015

New Federal funding  for the Women’s Legal Centre to establish a domestic violence unit

The Women’s Legal Centre today welcomed one of the biggest single injections into its funding in the Centre’s 20 year history. The Centre will receive $1.05 million over three years as part of the Australian Government’s recently announced $100 million package to respond to family and domestic violence.

Executive Director of the Centre, Elena Rosenman said the Centre would use this funding to establish a new specialist domestic violence unit within the Centre.

“This funding will significantly increase our ability to assist women experiencing domestic violence in the Canberra community.”

“While women in crisis need specific assistance to protect their immediate safety, to ensure that safety is sustainable and long term, women need intensive, sustained and expert legal advice and representation throughout their legal processes, particularly in the Family Court. They also need support to access other essential services. This funding will allow the Centre to provide that support to women in the Canberra community who are most at risk.”

“The Prime Minister has been clear that this a gender-based issue and I am pleased the Government has resourced a specialist women’s legal centre to address it here in Canberra. With less than three full time lawyers, last year the Women’s Legal Centre assisted 1200 women, we provided close to 3 000 pieces of advice and took on close to 200 cases. Two thirds of the women we assist have experienced domestic violence. Ninety-five percent of the Aboriginal women we assist have experienced violence. Assisting these women to keep themselves and their children safe is central to our work.”

“We are seeing an unprecedented level of interest and support from all levels of Government, both sides of politics and the broader community. We look forward to working with key domestic violence organisations and bodies in Canberra to make sure this unit is effective and responsive and part of an integrated response to domestic and family violence in our community.”

Confronting Family Violence

Stories like Emma’s remind us that we need to work towards a world that is free of family violence. Her strength through adversity is extraordinary, and it highlights that the rest of us need to be just as strong in standing up for services that support women like her. …Here in the ACT, the Women’s Legal Centre and our other community centres will see their funding fall off a cliff in 2017 with hundreds of thousands of dollars being stripped from their budgets. Read more.

Women’s Legal Centre Launches Online Donations

Women’s Legal Centre (ACT & Region) have launched online donations! Click here to donate!

The Women’s Legal Centre is a small community legal centre. We provide free advice on a wide range of legal issues including domestic and sexual violence, divorce and separation, employment, property settlement and victims’ compensation. With less than three full time lawyers, last year we assisted 1200 women, provided close to 3 000 pieces of advice and took on close to 200 cases. Two thirds of the women we assisted with family law matters experience domestic or family violence.

With less than three full time lawyers, we simply could not do our work without the support of the community and pro bono assistance from private practitioners. Your regular donations will make a huge difference to our ability to continue providing our services to the most vulnerable women in Canberra.

Are donations tax deductible? Yes

Will I receive a receipt for my donation?
Yes, immediately sent to you by email when approved.

Budget 2015: Australian of the Year Rosie Batty says more money needed to combat ‘family terrorism’

Australian of the Year Rosie Batty has labelled domestic violence “family terrorism” saying the federal budget should allocate more money to combating it.

The more of our resources that are directed at trying to ensure our survival, the less that are directed to frontline services. – Women’s Legal Centre ACT and Region executive director Elena Rosenman

Read More