ECLC calls for funding rescue, ‘Funding Cliff’ to hit critical Yarra Ranges, family violence services
ECLC is increasing its advocacy for the rescue of its Yarra Ranges Centre (YRCLC) as the service faces potential closure when Commonwealth funding cuts take effect in July 2017.
An independent review of the YRCLC, released December 2016, confirmed the critical impact the service has had on the region’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.
However, from mid-2017, ECLC will cop a $240,000 loss per annum as the sector faces a 30% cut – a ‘funding cliff’ that places the YRCLC service at risk and threatens to impact the Centre’s broader work in the Eastern Metropolitan Region.
Local services have been adamant that without YRCLC, the region’s most under-serviced community members would simply not have access to legal help, including Aboriginal clients with complex needs and women living in rural isolation escaping family violence.
Since opening in 2015, the part-time service has supported over 500 clients, provided approximately 600 legal advices and reached a further 530 people through community legal education.
ECLC is engaging stakeholders at State, Federal and local levels to advocate for the Commonwealth funding cuts to be reversed.
The Commonwealth Government’s decision to slash legal assistance funding by 30% will trigger untenable strain on the whole service system – including legal, family violence and other social support services.
‘There are no alternatives to the YRCLC service for our community.’
– Heidi Tucker, CEO of Anchor (Housing and Community Services)
‘Lots of organisations have a nice Reconciliation Action Plan but the ECLC actually live it and do it.’
– Rose Solomon, Manager of Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Service
- February 22 – Samantha Dunn, MLC for Eastern Metropolitan, raised ECLC’s concerns in Parliament, calling on the Attorney-General to address the funding gap for Victorian CLCs . Read Ms. Dunn’s Adjournment Speech.
- February 22 – Attorney-General Martin Pakula issued a response.
- March 14 – Yarra Ranges Council passed a motion that Council write to Attorney-General of Australia George Brandis QC, Member for Casey Tony Smith MP and Member for La Trobe Jason Wood MP, requesting that the Federal Government commit funding on an ongoing basis to support the YRCLC. Read the Yarra Ranges Council media release.
- March 15 – The Victorian Government called on the Commonwealth Government to reverse cuts to Victorian community legal centres. Read the media release.
- March 21-22 – ECLC CEO Michael Smith and Principal Lawyer met with MPs in Canberra to advocate ongoing support for the YRCLC. View the story.
- April 24 – In a pre-budget announcement, Attorney-General George Brandis restores $56 million over three years to community legal sector, including $16.7 million to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services.
In the Media
- Lilydale & Yarra Valley Leader, ‘Eastern Community Legal Centre in Healesville faces closure because of state, federal funding stoush’, January 21.
- The Age, ‘Yarra Valley family violence victims fear legal centre closure’, March 10.
- Mountain Views Mail, ‘Funding threat to legal service’, March 15.
- Lilydale & Yarra Valley Leader, ‘Support for legal service: Council speaks up over cash cutback’, March 28 edition, page 5. (.PDF)
- Herald Sun, ‘Mum pledges support for under threat Eastern Community Legal Service’, April 6.
- The Guardian, ‘Government backs down on cuts to community legal centres‘, April 24.
- ABC News, ‘Community legal centres say funding cut reversals “a good start”‘, April 24 – with Nassim Arrage, CEO, National Association of Community Legal Centres.
- ABC RN Breakfast, ‘Funding for community legal centres reinstated‘, April 24 – with Serina McDuff, Executive Officer, Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria.
- Moutain Views Mail, ‘Funds pledged for legal aid‘, April 24.
- Lilydale Leader, ‘Relief over legal help cuts U-turn‘, May 2.
- Whitehorse Leader, ‘Relief for legal aid centre: Restoration of $240,000 will allow for much-needed free help for disadvantaged to continue‘, May 8.
ECLC would like to thank the person who wrote a letter to the Lilydale Leader, published March 28, in support of the Yarra Ranges service. Read the letter.
Find out more
Community Law Australia’s Information Sheet for MPs and Senators provides an overview of the funding cuts to CLCs and the key asks of the #FundEqualJustice campaign. Other helpful resources can be found here.
If you wish to support ECLC’s campaign directly, please contact us.