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Improved legal services for Western Australia.

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4 December 1998






I am pleased to announce today that up to 79,000 Western Australians will now have greater access to legal services thr ough the Federal Government’s provision of two new community legal services in the Kimberley and in the lower great southern region of WA.


The new centres are part of the Coalition Government’s $11.4 million initiative for extending access to legal services in regional and rural areas and improving the operation of the existing community legal services network.


The providers of the two new services are:


• the Kimberley Community Legal Service, based in Kununurra; and


• the Albany Community Legal Centre which will provide services to the lower great southern region of WA.


The Albany centre is expected to provide legal services to an area m the south west in which approximately 49,000 people reside. The Kimberley centre will be available to about 30,000 p eople for face to face consultations,1800 phone access, after hours services, education workshops and mediation.


Both centres will provide outreach services to outlying communities on a regular basis.


Community legal services deliver a range of legal services to disadvantaged people, including casework, legal advice and representation, and legal education activities. It is especially pleasing that these services are being made accessible to people living in regional and remote areas whose needs were often neglected under the previous Labor Government.


The high quality legal services provided by the Kimberley Community Legal Service and the Albany Community Legal Centre will assist those in the community who are most in need and address the imbalance of legal service provision existing between metropolitan and rural areas.


Media contact: Nicolas Harford (02) 6277 7300






December 1998




New Community Legal Services in Western Australia


Kimberley Community Legal Service


The service will be based in Kununurra, covering the Kimberley region of WA. This region is characterised by its vastness and remote network of towns and communities spread from the coastal area of Broome to the inland towns of Ku nunurra. The population of the Kimberley is about 30,000 with a large proportion of indigenous people. The majority of the population resides in the larger towns of Wyndham, Kununurra, Halls Creek, Warmun, Fitzroy Crossing, Derby and Broome. The Kimberley Community Legal Service plans to promote and provide access to a range of legal services that meet the needs of the most disadvantaged groups and people in the Kimberley region, including advice on domestic violence matters, family and de facto law, social security, tenancy and discrimination.


Albany Community Legal Centre


The service will be located in Albany, covering the lower great southern region of WA. The Albany Community Legal Centre will provide services to clients across some 35,000 square kilometers from Walpole in the west to Newdegate in the north-east, and Bremer Bay to the east. The population in this region is around 49,000. The Albany Community Legal centre has been operating in Albany on a voluntary basis for some time, and has recently conducted a community legal education program through which the service has gained some useful information about the legal needs of their client group. The service plans to build on this experience and provide a range of community legal services to meet the needs of disadvantaged people in their region. Specific service provisions will include face to face consultations, 1800 phone access, education workshops, mediation and an after hours service.


The Commonwealth Community Legal Services Program Rural and Regional Network Enhancement Initiative




Community legal services have proven to be a very effective means of assisting large numbers of needy people with legal services. The majority of existing community legal services have been established in and around capital cities. This exacerbates the disadvantage faced by people living in rural areas and raises issues of fairness in the distribution of services across the nation.


This $11.4 million initiative will extend legal services for Australians outside metropolitan areas as well as improve the ongoing operation of the community legal services network.


New program funding has been allocated over the next four years as follo ws:


(i) legal advice telephone service $3.090m;

(ii) new regional centres $4.900m;

(iii) capital upgrade $0.870m;

(iv) program support fund $0.800m; and

(v) clinical legal education project $1.740m.


Rural and remote legal advice telecommunication legal services:


This initiative will enable rural and remote communities to access legal advice services using the most appropriate technology; for example, toll-free numbers through a national network of rural telephone advice services, the internet, or video-conferencing. Services will be provided under contract selected by open tender.


New community legal services to high need regional and rural areas:


Six new community legal services will be established in:


• the Kimberley region and South West region in Western Australia

• the Iron Triangle region in South Australia

• the Centre-West region in Queensland

• the South Coast region in New South Wales

• the cross-border region in New South Wales and Victoria centred on Albury-Wodonga.


The new services in thes e high-need regional areas will provide community legal services on a regional basis. They will be subject to a service level agreement which includes accountability requirements, including quarterly reporting and use of a national activity database.


Capital Upgrades and the Use of New Technology:


To properly assist clients, legal services will need to make use of new technology which is safer and more efficient. The capital needs of existing community legal services will therefore be assessed to determine the most efficient allocation of funds.


Program Support Fund:


A program support fund will facilitate greater strategic support as the program expands, through improved information systems and program management reports.


Clinical Legal Education Project:


Four legal clinics will be developed with the aim of maximising both legal service delivery to disadvantaged clients and cooperation with universities. Funds will be made available to develop resources to assist in service delivery and enhance educational outcomes.