More funding for Victorians to seek legal support.

Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre (GVCLC) and Justice Connect will receive a much needed funding boost, to help more Victorians resolve their legal issues at an earlier stage.

The Victorian Government has approved funding of more than $910,000 over two years for the two Community Legal Centres (CLCs), which will be administered by Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) through our Community Legal Services Program.

Louise Glanville, CEO of Victoria Legal Aid said, “this funding is a welcome response to the growing need to provide legal information and advice in civil matters.”

“Supporting people with matters such as Centrelink payment issues and accessing the NDIS, dealing with tenancy issues, or managing fines is an important part of the justice system.”

‘If left unaddressed and without legal assistance, these legal problems can be at risk of escalating into complex problems and into criminal matters,” said Ms Glanville.

For GVCLC, the additional funding will enable them to deliver legal assistance in an area of high need, focusing on the causes of criminal offending, which often involve civil matters, and on outreach to Aboriginal communities. This is supported by a legal needs data analysis undertaken by VLA, which identified the need for more proportionate funding for this region.

“The learnings we gained from our Therapeutic Justice Program inform the way in which we now deliver all our legal services. This significant funding boost will allow us to build our civil law capacity and ensure we can provide timely responses to the legal needs of many more clients”, said GVCLC Managing Lawyer, Kaz Gurney.

“Our approach of working in partnership with local organisations to support clients with underlying issues has proven effective to increase access to justice and address legal issues. This approach has been particularly embraced by the local Aboriginal community, who are increasingly accessing our service. We now welcome the opportunity to extend and broaden these services”.

Justice Connect, through their Homeless Law service, will now be able to continue their project on homelessness prevention for Victorian prisoners on release, which has been philanthropically funded. By providing legal assistance on tenancy and housing debt issues the service reduces the risk of homelessness and provides important stable support for prisoners re-entering the community.

“Thirty five percent of prisoners were homeless before prison, and the rate of prisoners exiting into homelessness has risen by 188 per cent in the last five years. By helping people keep a roof over their heads and manage their debts, we can stop the revolving door between homelessness and prisons. This funding will prove vital in giving people a fair chance at a better life, and make our community stronger,” said Chris Povey, CEO of Justice Connect.

VLA is the core funder of most Community Legal Centres in Victoria, and works with the community legal assistance sector to ensure funding assists those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.

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