Funding certainty for essential legal aid services

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To ensure vulnerable Canberrans receive essential legal assistance, the ACT Government’s ACT Budget 2022-23 will fund three organizations to provide essential legal services to those who need them most.

Canberra Community Law will receive $1.072 million over three years to provide free legal services, specializing in public housing, social security, disability discrimination and homelessness.

“Not having to reapply for funding every year gives us the ability to plan meaningful programs,” said Genevieve Bolton OAM, Executive Director and Senior Counsel. “It’s also a huge stress reliever.”

Indigenous Legal Services NSW/ACT will receive $743,000 over two years to establish a new dedicated Care and Protection Legal Advocacy Service to provide culturally appropriate legal and advocacy services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the care and protection system of the ACT.

He will also receive $470,000 to continue the position of trial attorney, which provides legal assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans.

“It takes time to develop effective community programs, monitor their performance and adapt improvements so that we provide the best possible services,” said Nadine Miles, Senior Legal Officer. “It is great to see the ACT government recognizing this by making longer term funding available. This will allow us to continue to support the indigenous peoples living on Ngunnawal and Ngambri lands, especially children and families.

CARE ACT will receive $700,000 over three years to pursue the Mobile Debt Clinic (formerly known as the Reach Out Programme) which supports Canberrans who experience financial abuse due to domestic and family violence.

Attorney General Shane Rattenbury said the three-year funding will bring financial stability to these organizations.

“Better financial stability means stronger foundations for these valuable community programs,” said Rattenbury. “Previous budgets have primarily reported year-over-year funding initiatives, which limits an organization’s ability to strategically plan its programs and services.

“COVID-19 has created a new level of demand for many of these community services. This investment will ensure that these services can support our community not just to get through the pandemic, but for the longer term.

“We also heard during Our booris our way independent review of the need for culturally appropriate care and protection of legal services, which is why we fund the innovative programs of Indigenous Legal Services.

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