The Commonwealth Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, visited our office on the 13th of June to announce a funding double-header, including a one-off $150,000 funding boost for the Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre (a division of Loddon Campaspe CLC) and $205,000 to extend our justice initiatives via the National Broadband Network.
The funding represents a real commitment by the Federal Government to supporting innovative, community-based legal services to disadvantaged people living in regional Victoria.
The NBN funding has been provided under the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s NBN Regional Legal Assistance Program. The $205,000 funding allocation represents almost one fifth of the funding allocated under the program nationally. It recognises our record of innovation and determination to identify and meet unmet legal need. It will enable us to be NBN ready and showcase our e-communications practice to the legal assistance sector.
The funding will increase the region’s access to legal assistance services, which will result in better and more cost-effective outcomes. For example, timely and specialist migration law advice will identify which applications/proceedings have a probability of success. Timely consumer law advice and advocacy will enable early engagement with suppliers of goods and services, avoiding litigation in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) or the Magistrates’ Court. Timely and effective family law advice will feed into existing early resolution pathways through the Family Relationship Centre.
The NBN funding will also enable diverse and expert training through existing partnerships with organisations including the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Vic.), the Public Interest Law Clearing House and the National Association of Community Legal Centres.
Goulburn Valley CLC funding boost
We also welcome a one-off funding boost to the Goulburn Valley CLC. The centre began as a pilot service in 2009 and has received funding from Victoria Legal Aid for basic services until June 2014. This funding is the first major investment by the Commonwealth in the Goulburn Valley service.
The campaign for community legal services in the Goulburn Valley started in 2008 and gathered momentum through funding by the Legal Services Board and the Clayton Utz Foundation. We have demonstrated the need for services and the Government is recognising that work by investing funds to help meet that need. We will work hard to make this funding recurrent but it’s an excellent starting point by the Commonwealth.
Image: Splash Photo, Tim Watson