Today's announcement of a reversal in cuts to Community Legal Centres and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services is welcome news and I thank all those who joined the campaign.
The back down is good news for Hunter Community Legal Centre and its dedicated staff who were faced with the prospect of turning away hundreds of local residents in need.
Community Legal Centres help hundreds of thousands of people around Australia in need of free legal assistance who do not qualify for legal aid. They are on the frontline in the battle against domestic violence and assist people with problems as diverse as Centrelink debt, tenancy disputes and employment issues.
Hunter Community Legal Centre and its dedicated staff has been helping our local community for 26 years. Any loss of funding would have seriously jeopardised its capacity to serve our communities and to provide out-reach services in lower and upper Hunter communities.
Labor has been protesting these cuts for years, arguing vulnerable Australians in need of free legal services - including domestic violence victims - would suffer.
The devastating cuts would have seen many centres across the country offering free legal help close their doors and clients in need turned away.
The uncertainty faced by the centres in recent months and years has been incredibly damaging, with many already losing experienced staff and unable to plan for the future. It’s unacceptable.
Labor is committed to free legal services for Australians who need it, and will always give Community Legal Centres and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services the support they deserve.