Page updated May 27, 2021

Strong budget delivers legal assistance to Melbourne’s east

May 21, 2021

Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) has welcomed the 2021 Victorian Budget and commended Treasurer Tim Pallas and Acting Premier James Merlino for significant investment in areas of community need.

ECLC has joined others in recognising its focus on fixing Victoria’s mental health system, increasing support for people experiencing family violence and driving a strong economic and jobs recovery from COVID-19.

A major achievement is the establishment of a Specialist Family Violence Court in Ringwood, which will allow family violence matters to proceed in a way informed by experts and with holistic support. This will improve outcomes and reduce the impact of legal proceedings for individuals and families.

The 2016 Royal Commission recommended this approach and ECLC has been advocating for it locally for over 15 years.

Establishing legal assistance within the Orange Door Network is also a big step forward. This will improve outcomes and reduce harm for those seeking support. With two Orange Doors set to open in the eastern suburbs over the next year, ECLC looks forward to supporting these important services.

The Budget will also see additional legal assistance provided to people with mental health issues, communities affected by bushfires, victims of crime, and LGBTIQ+ Victorians. These are all groups where targeted legal and social support will have a major impact in improving people’s lives.

ECLC has a range of services and community partnerships that work in these areas and is awaiting further details on how budget commitments will impact their work.

CEO, Michael Smith, said the new funding would strengthen community legal help for around one million people through Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and the Yarra Valley.

“This Budget will enable people to get the legal and social support they need in order to be safe and to resolve a range of issues impacting on their health and wellbeing.”

“Eastern CLC is fortunate to have a number of local MPs who actively advocate for community members in need of legal and social support. We would like to thank them for taking the time to understand these issues and making sure these community voices were heard during the budget process.”

Despite these positive announcements, ECLC and other community legal centres remain unable to meet the ever-increasing demand by vulnerable communities that need legal help. ECLC hopes this shortfall will be addressed when future funding decisions are made.

“Eastern CLC and the legal assistance sector will continue the conversation with Attorney-General Symes and the Victorian Government about the importance of bridging the remaining gaps in access for Victorians in need for legal and social support through core CLC funding and new health justice partnerships.”

ECLC will release additional details of funding allocations and service changes when they are available.

You can also read budget responses from the Federation of Community Legal Centres and the Victorian Council of Social Service.

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