By Gianna Huesch
It appears there are hard times ahead for many rural and regional frontline community legal services and their clients with federal funding set to be drastically reduced in the coming months.
Many of the community legal centres in isolated regions around Australia will struggle to continue to offer much-needed services to women experiencing domestic violence. Sadly, the Attorney-General has used semantics to wriggle out of the Federal Government’s obligations to properly fund these critical services. As quoted in the Whitsunday Times:
Mr Brandis said his government was not cutting the funding, but that the previous funding allocation was due to end in June.
Instead, the Federal Government wants State and Territory governments to “pull their weight”. But prolonged bickering between Federal and State governments certainly does not help those who urgently need help.
The newspaper reports that Women’s Legal Service Queensland chief executive officer Angela Lynch “revealed her fears as the federal funding drop means her organisation has to close its $40,000 a year Rural, Regional and Remote Priority Line, which supports regional women in domestic violence crisis, and scale back the operating hours of its $200,000-a-year statewide help service. Both services help about 4000 regional residents a year.”
The services these centres provide are so critical to isolated women in regional Australia due to their increased risk of suffering domestic violence, according to Australian Institute of Family Studies research. WLSQ’s Angela Lynch said:
“Services on the ground are scarce and if there’s only one lawyer in town they’re often unable to get legal help (as the lawyer is helping their partner). You combine this with higher gun ownership and women are in incredibly volatile and unsafe situations.”
We call on the Federal Government to now commit to reversing these cuts (or if they prefer to use the language, to renew the funding) to enable community legal services to continue to provide assistance to these vulnerable Australians.
If you need assistance with a family law matter or domestic violence matter please contact Cristina Huesch or one of our solicitors, Sharla Stevens or Angela Li on (02) 6223 2400.
(Please note: Our blogs are not legal advice. For details about how to obtain correct legal advice please arrange a free conference with Alliance Family Law.)