Community Legal Centres and First Nations justice investment can’t wait
Community Legal Centres across the country are in crisis, forced to turn away thousands of people in desperate need of legal assistance, after more than a decade of Coalition cuts.
The Greens are today calling on the new Labor government to urgently distribute the funds they promised the sector in the election to meet immediate needs.
We need the urgent rollout of Labor’s election promises. This can’t wait months and months because every day it’s delayed means hundreds more people being denied the most basic justice.
Lines attributable to Senator David Shoebridge, the Greens spokesperson for Justice:
“A fair go in the legal system shouldn’t only be available to the rich. To make this happen the new Parliament needs to step up with ambitious investment in access to justice.
“The Coalition cuts to funding are being felt right now by real people seeking help often on the worst day of their lives. “The funding cuts and uncertainty faced by Community Legal Services mean vulnerable people who need urgent legal help are being turned away, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
“It’s time to move away from the uncertainty of funding these essential services year by year, and commit going forward to long term generous investment in access to justice.
“We know who is most harmed by a lack of access to community justice and legal centres, it’s those in our community who are already struggling, it’s women, First Nations families, CALD communities and people without a job. It’s well past time their needs were prioritised in the legal system,” Senator Shoebridge said
Lines attributable to Senator Lidia Thorpe, the Greens spokesperson for First Nations:
“First Nations families and communities are experiencing ongoing deaths in custody, child removal, family violence and Aboriginal Legal Services are having to shut their doors because of inadequate funding from state and federal Governments.
“An independent review found that lawyers at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) are paid approximately 20-24% less than the equivalent at Legal Aid Commissions, ATSILS service demands have increased by up to at least 20% each year and no further funding was allocated in the 2021-22 Budget.
“How can First Nations people expect justice in this country, when our lawyers are overworked, underpaid and demand for legal assistance grows without any additional resources? The Greens are calling on the Albanese Government to do better and give the people in this country equal access to legal services. No justice. No peace.”