Funding cuts to legal centres a ‘blow’ to most vulnerable
SHADOW Attorney General Mark Dreyfus and Labor candidate for Page Janelle have backed the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre's plea to have funding cuts to programs aimed at preventing domestic violence reversed.
They said the Federal Government had announced a third, or $30 million, of commonwealth funding would be cut to the 39 Community Legal Centres around the state as well as the scrapping of $100,000 per year in funding to the Lismore centre, introduced by Mr Dreyfus in 2013.
Mr Dreyfus said the cuts could mean the end of the Lismore-based centre's outreach service in Casino, as well as the possible closure of the Tweed office and the loss of a specialised family violence solicitor.
Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre acting centre manager Fia Norton said it was the biggest challenge in the centre's 20-year history.
"They're (the cuts) going to affect the most vulnerable people in our community," she said.
"We've got the most disadvantaged people needing the service to come to where they are, and we're not going to be able to do that anymore.
"Our domestic violence services are just stretched and we're covering an increase in incidents of domestic violence."
Ms Saffin said she was concerned the federal funding cuts would impact complimentary services to the State Government's Safer Pathways domestic violence program, a service NRCLS was selected to coordiante in Tweed in 2015.
"Last year the Northern Rivers CLC was selected by the NSW Government as one of five sites to roll out the Safer Pathways reforms for Doemstic Violence, an integrated response service to prevent domestic violence deaths and serious injury to women and children," she said.
"But how will the program be impacted when cuts come into effect next year?
"The cuts to the Northern Rivers Community Legal, in fact to legal service right across the region, has a devastating impact.
"Legal Services are essential services and governments have an obligation to provide them."
The cuts are set to come into effect in mid-2017.