Queensland community legal centres say they need an extra $54 million in government funding over the next three years if they are to provide necessary services and access to justice to the state’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable people.
Community Legal Centres Queensland (CLCQ) yesterday released its 2022-25 State Budget Investment Proposal, which says it is seeking a further $18 million in additional annual funding over each of the next three years as an investment in much-needed access to justice for all Queenslanders.
“Queensland’s community legal centres (CLCs) need to be adequately funded to respond to increased demand, complexity and urgency of legal problems, resulting from COVID-19 and population growth, for vulnerable and disadvantaged people experiencing most urgent and complex needs,” a CLCQ statement said.
“The recent flood events in South-East Queensland have highlighted how important community-based responses are to recovery. Increased baseline funding for the community legal centres will ensure they are more agile in the face of the changes to legal needs that emerge out of events like these.”
CLCQ is the peak body providing support and advocacy for 34 independent local CLCs across Queensland.
Queensland’s CLCs provide free information, legal assistance and referral, representation and casework, community education and advocacy for vulnerable clients and communities facing legal problems.
CLCQ’s 2022-25 funding proposal includes seven recommendations across four key areas for the expansion of the Queensland Community Legal Services Program.
It says the additional State Government investment would meet an increase in demand for legal services by investing:
- $5 million a year to help meet increased demand for general CLC services
- $3 million a year to support Queenslanders pursuing their human rights
- $3 million a year to support the provision of domestic and family violence assistance
- $1 million a year for Family Violence Prevention Legal Services to provide specialist legal assistance to First Nations Queenslanders
- $5 million a year to prevent and address service delivery gaps
- research via a $1.5 million one-off investment for analysis of the economic impact of CLCs to assist future government planning and investment, and
- $500,000 a year to enhance capacity to effectively support the CLC sector.
In 2020-21, Queensland CLCs delivered services to 240,000 clients, 53,000 of which were vulnerable and disadvantaged people requiring free legal assistance.
A further 80,500 people had to be turned away from CLCs during the same period due to a lack of resources.
See the CLCQ Budget Proposal.