Community legal centres win federal funding reprieve

OPPOSITION: Labor's Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, made an impassioned plea in federal parliament for funding of community legal centres to be reinstated.
OPPOSITION: Labor's Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, made an impassioned plea in federal parliament for funding of community legal centres to be reinstated.

The federal government has reversed plans to slash millions of dollars in funding from community legal centres after coming under intense pressure, including from lawyers.

The government had planned to take $35 million from the sector, which gives free legal help to disadvantaged and vulnerable people in 190 centres across Australia – including at Wyong and Newcastle.

The new funding arrangements had been due to start on July 1.

Legal centres feared the funding cuts would have forced them to sack staff and turn away thousands of desperate people who could not afford their own legal advice. 

But the government is now promising $55.7 million in extra funding to be confirmed in the May 9 budget.

Prior to the federal government’s funding rethink, the state government announced $6 million in additional support for community legal centres over the next two years. On Monday, the state government said it would honour that commitment, notwithstanding the federal decision.

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