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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 4616..


Question so resolved in the negative.

Community legal centres

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.59): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes:

(a) the motion passed by the Assembly on 30 June 2010 relating to Community Legal Centres (CLCs);

(b) the improvements made in 2010 to the structure of Havelock House to enable CLCs to make the most of the space available;

(c) the short term accommodation found at the old Gunghaleen School house in North Lyneham for sections of the Women's Legal Centre;

(d) despite (b) and (c), the office accommodation shortage for CLCs remains a problem and that they cannot supply a work desk for all funded staff positions and continue to be forced to reject offers of additional pro bono legal work;

(e) the capacity of CLCs to meet their full potential is being constrained due to the office accommodation shortage; and

(f) recommendation number 132 from the Select Committee on Estimates 2011-12; and

(2) directs the Government to undertake the actions set out in recommendation number 132 of the Select Committee on Estimates 2011-12 and report to the Assembly by the first sitting day in December 2011.

The Greens are pleased to bring this motion on for debate today because we believe that increased government support for community legal centres is an investment that simply adds up. Community legal centres provide unique legal support to people who would otherwise go without advice when they need it the most. In doing this they help close the gap on unmet legal need. Unmet need arises when people in need of advice cannot afford a private lawyer but also do not qualify for legal aid. These people literally fall through the cracks in our legal system and risk going unassisted.

Community legal centres play an important role in catching those people at risk. Having the ability to speak to a lawyer and get their advice is one fundamental way to ensure that individuals can uphold their rights. Any legal issue that arises can be an unexpected and highly stressful life event for the individual involved. Where legal need is unmet and people go without advice, the quality of justice and of our society is diminished.

Research has shown that for every dollar spent in a community legal centre the government saves $100 at later points in the justice system. This makes government


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