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The Federal Budget 2022-2023

A disappointing budget for the community legal sector that does little to improve access to justice 

31/3/22

Community Legal Centres Australia believes that everyone is entitled to justice, regardless of how much money they have.  

The community legal sector is grossly underfunded, and we are disappointed that the budget does not include much needed funding to allow the sector to deliver services to those in need in our communities. 

We know that around 80 people a week are turned away from community legal centres in each electorate. This budget does not contain a commitment or vision to improve access to justice in this country and only delivers temporary fixes, when we need long term solutions to the persistent problems of inequality and injustice. 

Whilst we do welcome the following funding announcements, more clarity is needed around how this funding will be allocated before we can speak definitively about the impacts it may have: 

  • $2.5 million over two years to support the Financial Rights Legal Centre’s National Insurance Law Service 

  • A $25 million package which includes financial counselling services on the ground in flood affected areas NSW and QLD in addition to the $5.4 million previously announced in March 2022 for legal assistance for flood victims in NSW and Queensland - although it is not specified how this funding will be allocated. 

  • $8.4 million over three years for a pilot of a new service delivery model to provide survivors of sexual assault with greater access to dedicated legal services - although it is not specified how this funding will be allocated.  

  • A $10.5 million package over four years that includes funding for supporting financial counsellors – although again it is not clear how this will be allocated 

We are disappointed that the Budget fails to deliver:  

  • An additional $80 million core funding for community legal centres to be able to address unmet need 

  • $1.5 million every four years for a national legal needs assessment to facilitate evidence-based planning and efficient allocation of resources

  • $20 million per year for legal assistance in disaster prevention as well as recovery 

  • $25 million per year funding for wraparound support through an integrated services model

  • The desperately needed additional funding for Aboriginal legal and family violence prevention services; in fact, it delivers a cut in real terms to these frontline services. 

Investing in community legal services not only improves the lives of those requiring legal help but provides significant cost savings to the economy through the positive flow on effects to wider society and ultimately, downstream cost savings for the federal government.  

Community Legal Centres Australia encourages all political parties to set out their vision for addressing unmet legal need across Australia and to set out their plans for how they will support the community legal sector before the federal election in May 2022.  

 

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) budget media release

 

Older releases:

Federal Budget 2021

Media Release. 12 May 2021: CLCs Australia welcomes Federal Budget allocations for community legal centres

Universal Periodic Review

Joint Media Release, 20 January 2021: United Nations slams Australia’s treatment of First Nations people and calls on Australia to Raise the Age in Universal Periodic Review

Domestic violence experts slam Morrison Government commitment to combating domestic violence

Media Release, 22 February 2020 - Domestic violence experts slam Morrison Government commitment to combating domestic violence

Funding cuts to community legal sector

The Saturday Paper, 1-7 February 2020 by Royce Kurmelovs

A government funding debacle has hurt the community legal sector across the country, forcing centres to close down and leaving vulnerable people in the lurch.

National FVPLS Forum Defunding

The Federal Government has announced that it intends to end funding to the National FVPLS Forum, which provides an essential voice for Aboriginal women and children who are survivors of family violence and sexual assault. Community Legal Centres Australia stands with other organisations calling for this funding to be reinstated.

Media Release, 10 December 2019 – Funding for the National Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention organisation is essential

Proposed Family Court Merger

We have been working with Women's Legal Services Australia in trying to change the Attorney’s mind about his proposed merger of the Family Court with the Federal Circuit Court. Our combined media release and open letter to the Attorney-General is below.

While the Open Letter has been sent to the Attorney-General, we are continuing to accept co-signatories to the letter for further advocacy opportunities. To join us in this work and co-sign the letter, please send your name, position, organisation to Liz Snell at [email protected].

Media Release, 11 November 2019 – Put safety first in family law, abandon flawed family court merger

Open Letter to Commonwealth Attorney-General, 11 November 2019 – Concerns about proposed family court merger

'Safety must come first in family law': Legal groups reject merger plan in The Sydney Morning Herald by Michaela Whitbourn

Media Release, 22 October 2020 – Dire Federal Circuit Court backlogs prove family court merger a risk to families, judges

 

CLCs Australia News

Keep up to date with CLCs Australia activities and the community legal sector with Community Legal Centres Australia News, our e-bulletin. If you want to receive it, please subscribe here

Click the links below to read past versions of the CLCs Australia News.

CLCs Australia News Spring 2021

CLCs Australia News Autumn 2021

CLCs Australia News Summer 2021

CLCs Australia News Spring 2020

CLCs Australia News Winter 2020

CLCs Australia News Autumn 2020

CLCs Australia News Summer 2020

CLCs Australia News Spring 2019

NACLC News July 2019

NACLC News April 2019