The Federal Government has announced $5.4 million funding for legal assistance providers in Queensland and NSW to ‘boost existing legal assistance services operating within affected communities’. We have requested further details about how this funding will be distributed and will update members as we receive this information.
As we move closer to a federal election, we are encouraging Centres to participate in the #HandsUpforJustice campaign to draw attention to the vital work of the sector. CLCs Australia is continuing to lobby for increased funding and will be meeting with Ministers, advisors and others over the coming weeks.
With the Federal Election on the horizon, we will be launching the Hands up for Justice campaign on 22 February 2022.
This will involve a new website, communications, action packs for Centres and meetings with politicians and candidates.
The objectives of the campaign are to:
We will be providing:
We would love you to:
We hosted our first Advocacy Gathering of 2022 on 2 February, to hear about and discuss Hands Up for Justice prior to launch. Feedback on campaign asks and messaging will continue to be refined over the next few weeks as we head to launch date.
We also submitted our Federal Budget pre-submission, which will be published on treasury.gov.au in due course.
Thank you to those who attended our Hands Up for Justice Campaign Information Session on 4 November for providing valuable feedback on this new sector campaign. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are now incorporating your feedback in finalising our campaign messages and roll out plan. Your involvement in the campaign will be key to our sector’s success in raising awareness about the campaign ahead of the upcoming election in 2022.
If you couldn’t make the Hands Up for Justice Information Session, you can watch the recording and see the slides on our Members’ Portal.
The Meeting of Attorneys-General is proposing “to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from ten to twelve”. We think this proposal is inadequate – children belong in school and with their community, not in prison. We want to see the age of criminal responsibility increased to fourteen across the whole of Australia.
The Religious Discrimination and Voter ID Bills are set to be introduced into Federal Parliament this week and we have written to the Attorney General, Special Minister of State and their Shadow equivalents alongside Kingsford Legal Centre and CLCNSW to oppose the bills on the basis that the Religious Discrimination Bill will allow discrimination and compromise Australia’s human rights protections, while the Voter ID Bill will disenfranchise many people who experience social and economic disadvantage.
So much has happened since the March Sector Only News, one being Michaelia Cash’s appointment as Attorney-General. We have already reached out to her office and are hopeful that we can secure a meeting to update her on the sector’s important ongoing work around key issues like COVID-19, family violence and elder abuse. Please send any new case studies our way which you think highlight the difference that your Centre makes to an individual or group by emailing email@example.com.
We also continue to work behind the scenes to maximise the chance that the upcoming Federal Budget will deliver additional funding to replace or extend the COVID-19 legal assistance funding that ends on 30 June 2020. There are both challenges and opportunities in the current climate and we are providing information to AGD, all relevant Ministers and our contacts across the political spectrum. Check out our Federal Budget submission for the other asks we are making on behalf of the sector.
With a federal election nearing, we are working with representatives of the State and Territory peaks and some of the National Networks to develop a strategy as well as prepare a new Federal Election Kit.
A key resource we are developing is the community legal sector Advocacy Hub. We want to thank Community Legal WA and all the Centres in WA for sharing the resources they developed for the recent State election as well as sharing their experiences. We are currently working with Centres in Tasmania in the lead up to the State election in May. If you have ideas on what our top asks in the Federal election process should be, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may have heard about DSS funding for a pilot service for temporary visa holders experiencing violence. This funding package is $10 million in total for twelve months, with $6.5m going to the Red Cross and $3.5m going to nine pre-selected legal assistance services, some of which are CLCs. We understand that DSS selected the legal assistance services from those already funded for Domestic Violence Units (DVUs) under the Women’s Safety Package. Neither we nor our contacts at AGD were aware of this decision until it was announced. While it is great news that additional resources have been made available to support temporary visa holders and this represents an important opportunity for the selected Centres, we do have a number of concerns about the decision-making process underpinning these funding allocations. IWe are exploring how best to address those concerns through discussions with both DSS and AGD.
Last month, we referred to submissions regarding the Australian Charities and Not‑for‑profits Commission Amendment (2021 Measures No. 2) Regulations 2021, which are now available in the Members’ Portal. These submissions were developed through our participation with the Hands Off Our Charities Alliance and build on previous work seeking to restrict or gag the work of civil society through an over-reach in state power. This is a continuation of a body of advocacy work that we do around government regulation of the way in which we all work. The primary purpose is to foster a regulatory environment that ensures that Centres and their peaks are able to engage the full range of activities needed to meet the needs of their communities.
Finally, we want to acknowledge that Bill Mitchell from Townsville Community Law and the Older Persons Legal Services Network has made some important contributions to the eleventh working session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons. This is part of the work that we do to enable community legal sector participation in the United Nations and Bill was able to participate in the sessions remotely.