The Midland Information, Debt and Legal Advocacy Service (Midlas) will miss out on funding commitments announced as part of moves by the State and Federal governments to ease a funding crisis in the community legal services sector.
Premier Mark McGowan announced the State Government would provide about $1.2 million to the sector to ensure disadvantaged and vulnerable West Australians could access free legal help to compensate for the loss of funding from the Legal Contribution Trust.
Community legal centres were facing a funding shortfall after being notified last year that there would be no distribution from the Legal Contribution Trust from July 1, 2017.
However, WA Community Legal Centres Association executive director Helen Creed said Midlas was one of the few centres that had never received State funding as part of the community legal centres funding program.
“It is an anomaly that Midlas doesn’t get funding under the community legal centres program,” she said. “It is a situation that we would expect to be fixed in future funding allocations.”
Midlas general manager Justine Clarke said the organisation had never received State or Federal funding.
“Midlas is grateful that funding will continue for community legal centres and this will alleviate short-term concerns in regards to assisting current and future clients in need of legal assistance,” she said. “However, Midlas is still in the position that we have never received Commonwealth or State legal funding despite Midland and surrounding areas being acknowledged as being a high-priority area of need in 2003 and 2009.”
Mrs Creed said a review was under way to determine the future distribution of State community legal centre funding.
She said the closure of the Legal Aid WA office in Midland in 2015 was clearly a factor that would need to be taken into account as part of the review.
The report was due to be released in April.