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Belconnen legal aid office facing closure



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John Langmore,m p Member for Fraser Level 2, Swanson Plaza, Belconnen ACT 2617 Tel: (06) 253 4580, Fax: (06) 253 4585 Media Release

Belconnen Legal Aid Office facing closure

“ The Belconnen Legal Aid Office is facing closure because of John Howard’s budget cuts,” Member for Fraser, John Langmore said today.

“ The Belconnen office was only opened in April this year by the Federal Attorney General, Daryl Williams, now, less than six months later the office is facing closure because of cuts to the Legal Aid budget,” Mr Langmore said. .

ACT Legal Aid received funding from the previous Federal Labor Government to establish an office in Belconnen following a survey which showed that 40% of Legal Aids’ clients would find an office in Belconnen more accessible.

ACT Legal Aid staff recently received advice that its previously anticipated three years worth of funding for tire service in Belconnen was to be stopped at the end of March next year.

The Belconnen office, located in Northpoint Plaza, employs 5 solicitors and “para” legals to provide legal aid for people involved in family law disputes, representation of children in family disputes as well as criminal matters.

The office also has staff from the Canberra Mediation Service, who provide mediation services as an alternative to costly legal action. The service offers mediation in a wide range of areas, such as the care and parenting of children, financial and property matters.

“ This cut again demonstrates the devastating impact John Howard’s budget is having on the Belconnen area. The office was located in Belconnen to meet the demands of people using the service, now these cuts threaten the future of the Belconnen office,” he said.

“ ACT Legal Aid has entered into written contracts, in good faith, on the lease of office space in Belconnen, and has signed contracts with solicitors and other staff to run the office. They now face costly early termination of these contracts,” he said.

“ I call on the Howard Government to honour its commitment and provide the three full years worth of funding for this service, which the Belconnen area needs and deserves, “ Mr Langmore concluded.

For further information: Simon Corbell 253 4580 1 October 1996 John Langmore 2540846 (h)