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Stability in funding needed

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August 07, 2017

Community legal centres can now apply for a share in more than $7million of funding, but the manager of one Shepparton practice says more stability is needed when it comes to funding commitments.

Community legal centres can now apply for a share in more than $7million of funding, but the manager of one Shepparton practice says more stability is needed when it comes to funding commitments.

A new round for the Victorian Government’s funding for community legal and family violence centres is open and the state’s 50 community legal centres need to reapply for three grant funds, worth up to $50000 a year.

While Goulburn Valley Community Legal Centre managing lawyer Kaz Gurney welcomed the announcement, she said forms of funding were only short-term and did not address the critical need for ongoing support.

The centre only recently re-secured part of a Federal Government package for community legal centres, after months of uncertainty and the loss of a specialist family lawyer.

The GVCLC had previously understood it would lose $100000 in annual funding at the start of the financial year, due to expected cuts to CLCs across Australia.

‘‘I think CLCs generally have been extremely well-served by our state government; but as far as the Commonwealth Government is concerned, it would be great to have that certainty long-term,’’ Ms Gurney said.

‘‘It’s a really big thing because it impacts on staff morale, it diverts money that should be going into retaining staff and servicing clients, instead of the constant turnover we have as a result.’’

The Victorian Government funding will inject support into issues such as family violence, family law and fines.

Community legal centres play a vital role in helping disadvantaged Victorians obtain legal advice, support and representation.

Ms Gurney was confident the funding would allow the centre to recruit a full-time lawyer in family violence law and protection.

She said the development of the new Shepparton law courts had increased the need for a duty lawyer to attend up to four times a week.

‘‘Any particular family violence funding from our state government is terrific because we all understand this is a huge issue that impacts families at all levels,’’ Ms Gurney said.

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