Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon has welcomed news that the Federal Government won’t proceed with its longstanding plans to slash Community Legal Centre funding.
“This backdown from the Attorney-General is great news for everyone who campaigned so hard, and a welcome reprieve for the Hunter Community Legal Centre which was facing damaging cuts that would impact the critical services they provide ,” Ms Claydon said.
“These cuts would have had dire consequences for so many of the most vulnerable people in our community who rely on Community Legal Centres for assistance at some of the most difficult times in their lives.”
Ms Claydon said while the reprieve was welcome, the Federal Government should never have threatened the cuts in the first place.
“The Federal Government has forced the community legal sector into limbo for years – they’ve been unable to plan, only able to fill positions on a short-term and unsure what services they would be able to provide into the future,” Ms Claydon said.
“You have to question the priorities of a government that thinks nothing of handing over $50 billion for a big business tax cut, while it tries to cut funding for critical community legal services.”
Ms Claydon said that even if the funding is maintained, demand still outstrips the services that can be provided in the Newcastle Hunter region.
“Even without the cuts, the Hunter Community Legal Centre turned away more than 1300 people last financial year because they simply don’t have the resources to keep up with demand,” Ms Claydon said.
“I sincerely hope the State Government follows through on its commitment to deliver extra funding to New South Wales Community Legal Centres. This may at least go some way to addressing this serious unmet need.”