The Advocacy and Rights Centre’s new Executive Officer, Jane Staley, is thrilled to reveal that our Pilot Community Legal Centre in Shepparton has been given the funding thumbs up by Victoria Legal Aid. Many thanks to all of you who have contributed to this campaign.
Yep, in partnership with UnitingCare: Cutting Edge and members of the Goulburn Valley community, we’ve finally done it! After three years of documenting need, campaigning and trying to service the legal needs of the Goulburn Valley on a shoestring, we’ve just learned that Victoria Legal Aid will fund an expanded Community Legal Centre service until 2014.
This is a major investment in a region marked by widespread disadvantage and limited access to justice for some of the most vulnerable in that community.
The CLC4GV Campaign and the Goulburn Valley CLC Pilot kicked off in 2008 with support from the Clayton Utz Foundation, the Legal Services Board, the Reichstein Foundation and the Victoria Law Foundation. The campaign caught the attention and imagination of the broader community, Victoria Legal Aid and governments.
In July 2011, Victoria Legal Aid extended funding to allow the service to continue operations at its Pilot level for another 12 months. But the recent announcement will allow for an expanded (albeit limited) service for another two years with funding at $200,000 per annum.
This investment demonstrates leadership and a willingness by Legal Aid and government to invest in services that target need and have shown their value. This is a massive boost and will fund the service at a level comparable to that which Loddon Campaspe CLC received when it first opened its doors in 2005. Loddon Campaspe CLC’s funding has grown three-fold since that time, so there’s still a way to go in the Goulburn Valley, but it’s still excellent news.
The funding will enable more staff to be based at Shepparton so they can really focus on the significant unmet legal needs of the region. Up until now, the Pilot service has been able to employ only one solicitor, Joanne Ellis, who had to travel across to Shepparton from our head office in Bendigo each week.
It’s ironic that Joanne left our service to travel overseas on the eve of the announcement. Joanne’s compassion, commitment and talent were instrumental to the success of both the Pilot and the campaign and this announcement is a fitting testament to her efforts. We wish Joanne all the very best in her adventures and future legal career and hope to invite her to check out the new centre on her return.
In the meantime, we have to employ a permanent full-time solicitor for two years. Applications close on Monday the 23rd of July. Please download the Position Description. Applicants must address the Key Selection Criteria and address their application to Jane Staley, Executive Officer, Advocacy and Rights Centre.