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Women's legal centre opens new premises as three year service agreements begin for community legal centres.



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ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON DARYL WILLIAMS AM QC MP

NEWS RELEASE

21 January 2003 10/03

WOMEN’S LEGAL CENTRE OPENS NEW PREMISES AS THREE YEAR SERVICE AGREEMENTS BEGIN FOR COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRES

Today I had the pleasure of opening the new premises of the Women’s Law Centre in Perth which coincides with the launch of a new three-year service agreement for community legal centres in the Commonwealth Community Legal Services Program.

The Women’s Law Centre is a relatively young organisation, which was established late in 2001 after winning a Commonwealth tender to establish a new legal service for women in Western Australia.

The organisation is one of several community legal centres in the Commonwealth Community Legal Services Program that is funded by the Commonwealth to provide services across the State.

The opening of the new premises represents an important step in the Centre’s development, particularly in establishing its identity as a specialist provider of legal services to women in Western Australia, and as an important resource for other

women’s services in the State.

Women’s legal services are an integral element of the community legal services program with at least one women’s legal service established in each State or Territory.

They provide a range of services to women, including community legal education, legal advice, legal information, casework and law reform activities.

I am also pleased to announce that community legal centres operating under the Commonwealth Community Legal Services Program have moved to a new service agreement.

From 1 January 2003, community legal services are funded through a model three-year service agreement instead of the previous annual service agreement.

The new agreement will provide Government and clients of the services with an assurance that the existing high level of service is maintained and provided at a consistent quality across Australia.

The agreement is the result of extensive consultation and negotiation with stakeholders of the program and peak representative bodies. The community legal services sector is very supportive of the introduction of the new agreement and

Media Contact: Jennifer Grove (WA) (08) 9316 3633/ 0407 467 870 www.law.gov.au/ag

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agrees it is a major step forward in bringing stability and certainty to ongoing funding arrangements.

Under a three-year agreement, community legal services will be able to implement longer term strategic planning which will provide new opportunities for tasks and projects which have previously been unachievable under a 12-month regime.

The Commonwealth Community Legal Services Program provides funding to 126 community legal services located throughout Australia. These organisations provide general and specialist legal services to assist disadvantaged members of the Australian community. The Government will provide $22.3m to support the program in 2002-03.

The Government is committed to developing and expanding the Commonwealth Community Legal Service Program. Since the 1998-99 Federal Budget, the Government has funded 11 new community legal services in areas of need.

The Government sees the introduction of the three-year service agreement as a further demonstration of its commitment to the valuable services provided by community legal services throughout Australia.

NB. The Women’s Law Centre is situated on the corner of Waterford and Beaufort Street at 920 Beaufort Street, Inglewood, Perth WA. The telephone number is (08) 9272 8800.