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Community legal centre study released



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8 July 1991

COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE STUDY RELEASED

Free legal aid worth over $2m a year is being provided by volunteer lawyers in community legal centres around Australia, an important new study has shown.

Launching Community Legal Centres - A Study of Four Centres in New South Wales and Victoria at the Redfern Legal Centre today, the Federal Justice Minister, Senator Michael Tate said the study proved conclusively that CLCs were outstandingly successful in attracting lawyers and other professionals prepared to give their

time without charge to assist less fortunate members of the community.

"This remarkable contribution, coupled with the dedication and commitment of those working within CLCs, has meant that centres have now become an important part of the network of community services available to ordinary Australians", Senator Tate said.

"CLCs have a long and honourable tradition dating back to 1972 when a group of concerned and idealistic lawyers formed Australia's first CLC at Fitzroy in Melbourne. Today, almost 20 years later, we are able to add to that tradition through this

study by documenting, for the first time, the important work being done day in day out in four centres".

Senator Tate said the data from the study would provide the foundation for further studies and analyses of CLCs over the next 12 months.

"I have just recently approved a request by the National Legal Aid Advisory Committee to examine aspects of the Federal Government's CLC funding programme - including the suitability of the existing funding guidelines. The Committee's advice should

be available early next year. In addition, I understand that the CLC movement itself will be considering the guidelines at its National Conference at Adelaide later this month. The CLC national representative will then report back to my Advisory Committee in August", Senator Tate said.

"We must ensure that CLCs continue to provide dynamic but practicable answers to the needs of the broader community. It is important, therefore, that mechanisms exist which will guarantee the successful development of the CLC movement into the future".

PA R LIA M EN TA R Y LIBRARY MICAH

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Senator Tate emphasised, however, that any changes to current procedures would only be made after full consultation with CLCs and Legal Aid Commissions.

Senator Tate took the opportunity to thank all those who had participated in the Study, with special thanks to the members of the Working Group, Gillian Wilks, Mark Courtney, Rhonda Fadden Alison Wallace and John Way.

For further information contact Shaun Gath: 06/2777260