Cuts to legal service funding
Deniliquin residents needing free legal advice may be forced to wait longer for assistance due to funding cuts in this year’s federal budget, according to Hume Riverina Community Legal Service.
HRCLS has been providing a free outreach legal service including visits to Deniliquin and Finley areas for many years, working out of the Intereach facilities in both locations. It helps vulnerable women and other victims in need.
Hume Riverina CLS principal lawyer Sarah Rodgers said funding cuts would mean less services in Deniliquin and Finley, with visits to be cut from fortnightly to monthly or bi-monthly. ‘‘We’re all quite disappointed,’’ she said. ‘‘We obviously wanted more funding because as it is we are already turning people away. Family law and family violence issues take up more than half the cases we deal with.
‘‘It is fundamental that if victims are experiencing family violence they have access to free legal services. Often people in these situations simply choose to stay in the violent situation because they can’t afford help and don’t know what their entitlements are,’’ Ms Rogers said.
Hume Riverina CLS has spent the past 12 months advocating for the federal government to reinstate a reduction in funding from $42 million down to $30 million, announced in last year’s budget and due to come into effect on July 1.
Last week’s response to the Productivity Commission’s Report all but ruled out those hopes.
The report recommended in 2014 that the federal government contribute $120 million of the $200 million per year required to meet legal needs.
Ms Rogers said the service did not want to be in a position where it had to deny help to people who walk through the door.
NSW Outreach lawyer Janet Osborne and principal lawyer Sarah Rodgers.