Relief and joy as funding cuts to community legal centres reversed

Relief and joy as funding cuts to community legal centres reversed

THE doors were “partly closed” at the Northern Suburbs Community Legal Centre before Federal Government funding cuts were reversed.

Community legal centres were facing federal cuts and a state funding shortfall after being notified last year there would be no supply from the Legal Contribution Trust after July.

The decision has since been reversed federally as well and the state government will provide $1.2 million to compensate for the loss from the trust.

Legal centre acting manager and principal solicitor Louellyn Gane said the funding crisis was one of the worst she had seen.

“I’ve been in the community legal sector for more than 12 years and we’ve never seen it come so close to the wire,” she said.

“It would have meant our Joondalup office would have had to close completely, and there would have been no other centre up that way.

“It would have meant we would have had to drastically slash services and let some staff go which meant people in the community were going to suffer; that is who we care about.”

Ms Gane said it was a “joyous day” when they were notified the funding would be reinstated.

“Our concern was the people who were going to be left with absolutely no access to justice,” she said.

“The doors were partly closed we were preparing for that to happen but we had done a lot of lobbying

“We still need to see the fine print but we are very confident the doors will stay open.”

Ms Gane said the centre provided a wide range of services including civil, tenancy law and hope for those in domestic or family violence situations.

“The job is spiritually rewarding; when you get a thank you it is from the heart because often we are someone’s last chance and their last port of call,” she said.

WA Attorney General John Quigley said providing access to justice services in WA was a high priority.