Record investment in community legal centres
People in need will have better access to free legal support thanks to an investment of more than $83 million for the community legal sector over the next three years.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the joint state and federal funding would help provide long-term stability for these vital legal services.
“Community legal centres play a crucial role in delivering access to justice for people facing disadvantage. This investment will give the sector the financial security it needs to continue helping people suffering hardship to receive critical legal services,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Eligible centres across all parts of NSW can also apply for funding to support more clients. This includes investing in regional areas where we know there is additional need.”
Attorney General and Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Mark Speakman said the funding model would provide certainty for the sector and target unmet need across the state.
“It will enable more women and children to escape domestic and family violence (DFV), support people facing financial insecurity and help thousands of vulnerable people across our communities get free legal support during their time of need,” Mr Speakman said.
“Centres will be able to apply for targeted funding, which will be prioritised based on where the demand is. Not only will this ensure better access to legal support for communities, it will also help provide new services where we know there are gaps.”
$64.7 million will be allocated to allow community legal centres to continue delivering core services. Eligible centres will also have an opportunity to apply for $18.6 million earmarked for areas of greatest need, including for rural and remote communities and DFV services.
Community Legal Centres NSW Executive Director Tim Leach welcomed the funding.
“COVID-19 has presented significant challenges for the community legal sector. Our centres have adapted in order to continue delivering their life-saving work,” Mr Leach said.
“This investment will provide critical funding security to our members so they can remain focused on helping vulnerable clients facing disadvantage and discrimination.”
Applications for the targeted funding will open in early November. Legal Aid NSW manages the funding which will operate from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2025.