Historic boost for community legal centres

Labor will deliver a $20 million boost for Community Legal Centres around the country, in addition to existing funding pledges of $42.5 million for the vital family violence legal assistance that Community Legal Centres do, and $120 million for financial rights legal assistance.

The National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC), the sector’s peak body, will receive $4 million to strengthen its leadership and advocacy role for the sector.

Collectively, this represents the largest funding boost for Community Legal Centres since Labor was last in government.

Under George Brandis, Christian Porter and the Liberals, Community Legal Centres have been treated with contempt, denied funding certainty, gagged from advocacy and brought to the brink. Labor’s advocacy helped force George Brandis to backflip on a planned 30 per cent funding cut in 2017. If that cut had proceeded, it would have devastated the sector, and left tens of thousands of Australians in desperate need of legal assistance without help.

Christian Porter has been little better for the sector. During this election campaign, Mr Porter has been invisible – he has not made a single announcement since the election was called.

Only Labor can be trusted to deliver funding certainty for the legal assistance sector, and deliver for the vulnerable Australians that rely on their services.

Labor can afford landmark funding for the legal assistance sector because unlike Scott Morrison and the Liberals, we aren’t giving handouts to the top end of town.

Labor’s funding for Community Legal Centres is part of a wider access to justice package that includes:

  • $14 million to restore commonwealth funding for Environmental Defenders’ Offices.
  • $40 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, and $4 million for the national peak body.
  • $21.5 million for Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, to protect Indigenous women.
  • $21.75 million to progress justice reinvestment trials across the country.
Labor believes that for Australia to remain a fair and democratic nation, justice must be accessible to all Australians, rather than only to wealthy individuals and companies who can afford to hire lawyers. All Australians, not just the wealthy, should have the right to a fair go under the law.

Labor is choosing to properly fund access to justice for vulnerable Australians while the Liberals choose bigger tax handouts for the top end of town – paid for by cuts to schools and hospitals.

After six years of the Liberals’ cuts and chaos, our united Labor team is ready to deliver a fair go for all Australians, not just the top end of town.

/Public Release. View in full here.