Queenslanders facing legal black hole

dath-agThe Palaszczuk Government has called on the Turnbull Government to reverse its $2 million cuts to vital community legal services which help vulnerable people across Queensland seek justice.

State Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath (pictured) said the Federal Government’s cuts to Community Legal Centres would stop some Queenslanders being able to access free legal help.

“These funding cuts could force Community Legal Centres, such as the Caxton Legal Centre, to reduce its services, close branch offices and telephone advice lines, and sack staff,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“I urge the Federal Government to reverse the funding cuts and invest in community legal centres, including Caxton Legal Centre, to ensure residents get the legal help they need.”

Mrs D’Ath said the Caxton Legal Centre helped the community’s most vulnerable people who could not afford a lawyer and were not eligible for government legal aid.

“Caxton Legal Centre helps people with a wide range of legal problems, including family violence, relationship breakdowns and family law, debt, consumer problems, tenancy disputes, and employment issues,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“These people are among the most disadvantaged in our communities and we need to support them as much as possible and think about how much we can help them.

“The Palaszczuk Government recognises how important these centres are and it would be devastating if we were to lose this vital service.”

Under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance, national funding for Community Legal Centres will be slashed from $42.2 million in 2016-17 to $30.1 million in 2017-18. Queensland’s share will be cut by $2 million – from $8.9 million in 2015-16 to $6.9 million in 2017-18.

Community Legal Centres Queensland Director, James Farrell, said $2 million was a relatively small amount in the context of the Federal Budget but that this funding cut would mean thousands of people would miss out on legal help.

“Last year Queensland Community Legal Centres provided help to almost 60,000 people but tens of thousands more were locked out, because of chronic under funding,” Mr Farrell said.

“These federal funding cuts will just make it harder for Queenslanders to get legal help.”
Caxton Legal Centre Director, Scott McDougall, said their service harnessed the expertise of about 200 volunteer lawyers and daytime staff to deliver almost 10,000 legal advices every year.

“Timely and effective legal assistance can turn around a vulnerable person’s life,” he said.

“We are greatly concerned about the consequences of the looming funding cuts on our ability to help people in desperate need of family, domestic violence, child protection and employment law advice.”

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