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Access to justice threatened by cuts

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national association of comnumity legal centre”

A ttention; D irector News News Date; 03 July 1996 Dalu|03 July 1996 Embargo; Kc ne

Access to justice threatened by cuts Proposed cuts to programs funded by the federal Attorney General w o u ld significantly impede access to the legal system for ordinary Australians.

According to a recent internal memo, the Attorney's Department is facing a $32.5 m illio n cut· Subsequently it has become clear that tills cut is like ly to apply lo legal aid and other programs funded by the Department such as com m unity legal centres and fam ily mediation services.

C om m unity legal centres currently assist more than 300,000 people each year and are w id e ly regarded as being both innovative and efficient.

In 1993 several new services were established in rural areas and to cater for particular groups such as women and young people. These sendees wvre­ established fo llo w in g inquiries and reports demonstrating they were the most effective w ay to increase access to the legal system.

These initiatives and the core program are now ih-eatened by the- proposed cuts. A 10 per cent cut to the current program w ould see more than 50,000 people miss out on much needed legal advice, ref* rral and continuing assistance in areas such as fam ily law, tenancy and consumer law.

Gordon Re no i if, convenor o f the National Association of C om m unity Legal Centres said "tin : needs of those people who w ill be most affected by the cuts w ill not be met b y tire legal profession, the courts, or any other legal service providers. 1 he Sc people w ill be left to live w ith injustice

"The National Association calls on the H oward Government to honour its pre­ election com m itm ent lo improve access to justice lo r the Australian com m unity and to retain current levels of funding for legal aid and com m unity legal centre!»."

Mare Inform ation: -

Gordon Rcnouf, Convenor, bh: 08 8041 3304 ah: 08 8948 2414 Irish Blake, National Funding Representative, bh; 09 430 2292 ah; 09 295 2004 or 015 773 705 Tony WesVnore, Coordinator: 041 925 6339

National Association of Community Legal Centres Suite 602, 383 Pitt Street, Sydn&y 2000 Tel: 02 264 9595 Fax; 02 264 9594