Backflip on funding cut stirs local hope

Community legal service awaits confirmed end to ‘uncertainty’

A REVERSAL from the Federal Government to cut funding for Victoria’s community legal centres has been welcomed by those at the coalface in Wangaratta.

Hume Riverina Community Legal Service principal lawyer Sarah Rodgers said the decision by Attorney-General Senator George Brandis to continue investing in community legal centres was acknowledgement of the services’ “essential role” in the North East border region.

The centres were facing a 30 per cent cut to their services from July 1 this year, despite nationally turning away some 160,000 clients per year due to existing funding shortfalls.

HRCLS – which covers Wangaratta and the border – turned away around 300 people in the last financial year due to insufficient resources and the cuts would have prevented a further 500 people from receiving legal advice, most of who would be seeking advice for family violence, children’s matters and personal safety.

The Wangaratta Chronicle has previously reported that a 30 per cent cut for HRCLS would be the equivalent of the centre losing one fulltime lawyer.

Centres around Australia rallied together to put up a united front against the proposed cuts, including writing an open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pleading for the decision to be reversed, with the government announcing on Monday that continued funding would be made available in the May budget.


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