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Kingsford Legal Centre
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Welcome to a special edition of the Kingsford Legal Centre e-bulletin highlighting the funding crisis we, and the whole community legal centre sector, are facing.  As a friend of KLC and a supporter of our work we ask that you take a few minutes to learn about the issue and lend us your support.

Funding Cliff


There is rising demand for free legal assistance in Australia. Hundreds of thousands of people are missing out on the legal help they need. In 2014-2015, over 160,000 of Australia’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable people were turned away by community legal centres, largely due to a lack of resources.

Unresolved legal problems lead to significant costs to the government and broader community. Access to legal help from community legal centres can prevent the escalation of legal problems and reduce costs to the justice system and other areas such as health and housing.

There are Federal Government funding cuts of 30% nationally from 1 July 2017 (and in the following years) that must be reversed, otherwise there will be a significant impact on the hundreds of thousands of people who seek legal help from CLCs.

Given the rising demand for legal help, even if the funding cuts were reversed, funding is not sufficient. This means that there is a need for longer-term increased funding to the legal assistance sector from both State/Territory Governments and the Federal Government.

What Does A 30% Cut In Funding Look Like At KLC?


KLC currently receives $295,000 funding per year from the Federal Government.  A cut of 30% to this funding is approximately $100,000.  KLC’s services to disadvantaged clients will be cut because of this. 

KLC would be forced to close its Family and Domestic violence clinic and we would lose at least one full-time solicitor/clinical supervisor position. 
 
In brief, the loss to the community will be:
  • Loss to the local community of community legal education and workshops on domestic violence issues using a clinical legal education model
  • Loss of advice and casework for clients experiencing domestic violence – an area of law where early legal intervention can have profound implications for clients and their families, particularly women
  • Loss of capacity in discrimination and employment clinics students no longer gaining in depth domestic violence law knowledge which they use in pro bono capacity when they are lawyers
  • Loss of one advice night per week -12 clients not getting legal advice
  • Severely reduced home, nursing home and hospital visits for older clients
  • Loss of skilled volunteers
  • Loss of law reform on systemic issues
  • Reduction in Kooloora Outreach, a Centre embedded in a public housing estate through which we help clients with complex, multi faceted issues

What We Are Asking For


The key campaign ‘asks’ for the Commonwealth Government include:

1. Reverse the funding cuts
Reverse the $12.1 million (30%) funding cut to Community Legal Centres nationally in 2017-2018, the $11.6 million (27%) cut in 2018-2019, and the $11.13 million (26%) cut in 2019-2020 (amounting to a $34.83 million cut over the period 2017-18 to 2019-2020) under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services.

2. Immediate injection of additional funding
In addition to reversing the funding cuts, implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendation from its Access to Justice Arrangements Inquiry and provide an immediate injection of $120 million per year additional funding into the legal assistance sector, including at a minimum an additional $14.4 million per year to community legal centres.

3. Long-term investment
Commit to implementing an appropriate process for determining adequate and sustainable longer-term funding contributions to the legal assistance sector by Federal and State and Territory Governments, in consultation with the sector and informed by robust data and evidence.

What We Would Do With An Extra $100,000


An additional $100,000 in funding would greatly increase the capacity of Kingsford Legal Centre (KLC) to help more vulnerable members of our community. 
 
The funding would employ a full-time solicitor who would develop health/justice partnerships targeting clients who suffer significant mental health and/or physical disabilities who would otherwise slip through the net. The solicitor would form partnerships with relevant community organisations to partner in a weekly outreach at a location such as a hospital, clinic, health centre etc. The outreach would use a clinical model with students attending and involve pro bono participation. The aim would be to use a wrap-around model through partnering with community organisations and health providers to ensure that the client is supported through their legal and other issues.
 
This solicitor would deliver legal advice and casework through home visits to vulnerable clients in their home/hospital/nursing home. This would impact on current service delivery considerably as home visits are very time and resource intensive but also very important. It is an area of service which we struggle with current funding levels but have identified as key to servicing the community.
 
The solicitor would develop and deliver community legal educations sessions to local community organisations on identifying legal issues in the target community and how to develop a produced shared/care wrap around service delivery model.  
 
This clinic would also inform any law reform or policy work around the legal issues affecting these vulnerable community members. As KLC is a part of the UNSW and its Director is an academic, this would allow us to do quality research and publish widely on best practice delivery and legal needs of this community.

How Can You Help?


Any help you can give us would be appreciated. In particular, it would be great if you could:
  • Contact your local MPs and candidates and tell them you are concerned about the cuts to KLC and the community legal centre sector
  • Use social media to indicate support for KLC, use the hashtag #fundequaljustice, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook; and
  • Send your words of support that we can use in our campaign to us at legal@unsw.edu.au
 
(L-R) UNSW Australia Law Faculty Dean Professor George Williams, Shadow Attorney General Dreyfus, Associate Professor Anna Cody and Matt Thistlethwaite MP


STOP PRESS: Shadow Attorney General Dreyfus Pledges Additional Funds To KLC 

 

On Friday, 10 June the Shadow Attorney General and local MP Matt Thistlethwaite visited KLC to announce an increase of funding of $60,000 per year over 3 years if they are elected. However, they are still committed to the 30% Liberal funding cut. This will in fact leave KLC $40,000 short for 3 years – that is half a solicitor position – then back down to a loss of $100,000 after this time.  Whilst we are happy the cut is less for three years it’s still a significant cut to our funding and therefore a blow to our vulnerable communities. CLCs need more money, not less.
Copyright © Kingsford Legal Centre 2016
Address: Kingsford Legal Centre, F8-003, UNSW, 2052 
Telephone: (+61 2) 9385 9566
Email: legal@unsw.edu.au
 UNSW ABN 57 195 873 179
CRICOS Provider No: 00098G.

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KINGSFORD LEGAL CENTRE · F8-003 · UNSW · Sydney, NSW 2052 · Australia

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