Tag Archive: yarra ranges

  1. Yarra Ranges CLC success confirmed in Review calling for funding rescue

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    An independent review of ECLC’s Yarra Ranges Centre (YRCLC) has highlighted the critical impact the service has had on the region’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, as the service faces potential closure when Commonwealth funding cuts take effect in July 2017.

    In just two and a half years of operation, the part-time Community Legal Centre has supported over 500 clients, provided approximately 600 legal advices and reached a further 530 people through community legal education.

    ECLC CEO Michael Smith expressed pride in the achievements but frustration that funding uncertainty would threaten the viability of the service for the second time since its 2014 launch.

    “It is clear that the Yarra Ranges CLC is achieving critical and often life-changing positive outcomes with the Yarra Ranges community, but those residents are again at risk of being denied this vital service,” said Mr Smith.

    Local services engaged by the review were 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.

    “Lots of organisations have a nice Reconciliation Action Plan but the ECLC actually live it and do it,” said Rose Solomon, Manager of Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Service.

    Heidi Tucker, CEO of local housing and community service provider Anchor added: “There are no alternatives to the YRCLC service for our community”.

    Despite its clear success, the YRCLC remains under threat with Commonwealth funding cuts due to impact on July 1, 2017. ECLC has been notified that it will lose $240,000 per annum, which will also impact the Centre’s broader work in the Eastern Metropolitan Region.

    Specifically, the Review by evaluation consultants Effective Change stated that, “Local service providers were unequivocal that without the YRCLC:

    • the most vulnerable and disadvantaged clients would simply not seek legal advice, inevitably resulting in the escalation of relatively minor legal matters
    • women living in rural isolation escaping family violence from partners often with access to guns would not have access to legal advice
    • Aboriginal clients with complex legal needs including family violence and child protection issues would not have access to legal advice.”

    In 2015-16, 55% of Yarra Ranges clients were assisted in relation to family violence or family law issues (and 60% of overall ECLC clients).

    In conclusion, the review,

    “strongly demonstrates that YRCLC is a critical service that requires continued ongoing funding to enable the Centre to continue to service the most vulnerable, marginalised and under-serviced members of the community and make a significant difference to the broader community.”

    ECLC and its supporters in the Yarra Ranges communities and beyond will utilise the review’s findings as further evidence for both Commonwealth and State funders to support the continuation of this vital work.

    Both the Executive Summary and Full Report can be read online:

    Download the full media release. 

  2. Critical Yarra Ranges legal services under threat as Budget confirms funding cuts

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    Vulnerable communities in the Yarra Ranges and across Melbourne’s east may lose access to critical legal services from July 2017, according to the Federal Government’s budget announcements on Tuesday.

    The figures confirmed that a 30 per cent cut in federal funding of community legal services would take place in July 2017 as the sector faces a national funding cliff.

    Eastern Community Legal Centre’s Yarra Ranges office, which caters to 140,000 people living across the municipality, may be forced to close when the centre cops an expected $240,000 cut in funding next year. The Centre appeared set to close its Yarra Ranges office during a funding crisis in 2014-15, before the cuts were reversed and stabilised the sector for two years.

    “The funding cut to free legal help is still a year away, but we know so well the impact and pressure that funding uncertainty has on our communities.” said ECLC CEO Michael Smith.

    “Our Centre is already facing huge demand for family violence and other legal help but the Centre will now have to expend energy to advocate to retain services, rather than expanding services to meet community needs.”

    Recently Ringwood Magistrates’ Court added an extra day to family violence matters as the court’s lists are exhausted by increased demand. Last year Victoria Police released figures that showed the number of applications for an intervention order in the Yarra Ranges region has increased by 228.69% over the past five years. These figures reflect a general increase across the region.

    “The Productivity Commission has called for significant funding expansion to legal assistance and the Victorian government has recognised demand in some recent family violence funding increases.

    “Regrettably, rather than expanding legal help, this Federal Budget leaves our Centre and many others in another year of ‘funding limbo’ with the stress of major cuts again hanging over these crucial services.” Mr. Smith concluded.

    Download ECLC’s full media release.