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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 June 2021) . . Page.. 1628 ..


services and it really gives them a terrific opportunity to be co-located and draw benefit from working with each other and combining their efforts.

Canberra Community Law is, of course, one of Canberra’s community legal centres. It does provide free legal assistance to people with housing issues, those at risk of or experiencing homelessness, with social security problems, experiencing race or disability discrimination or with other complex socio-legal difficulties. The people whose lives can be turned around by Canberra Community Law are among the most vulnerable in our city. These are people who are very close to falling through the gaps, and the government applauds and appreciates the transformative work by the staff of Canberra Community Law.

The Women’s Legal Centre is another of Canberra’s CLCs. It provides vital legal support in a culturally sensitive and trauma-informed way to vulnerable women, in areas such as domestic and family violence, family law, child protection and employment. Some of the stories about what the Women’s Legal Centre has been able to do for some women who are really on the edge of disaster are genuinely inspiring.

The Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT is, of course, another key part of Canberra’s network of community legal centres, providing free legal services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the areas of criminal law, care and protection, family law and social support.

Another CLC serving Canberra’s most in need is the Consumer Law Centre, which provides support to people who have issues with consumer credit, debt recovery and bankruptcy, to name a few. This kind of work is especially more important now that the commonwealth government is seeking to loosen lending standards, and that is a measure that is opposed by many of the state and territory governments who know that this is going to have a real impact at the ground level. What the federal government is actually seeking to do is contrary to the advice of the royal commission into the excesses of the banking industry.

Finally, of course, we have the Environmental Defenders Office, which provides free and low-cost legal services to protect our land, air and water. The EDO works with community members, conservation groups and the traditional custodians to achieve these really important outcomes.

I express both my and the government’s sincere gratitude for the hard work that our CLCs put in to turn people’s lives around when they are at crisis point. As I have mentioned, Legal Aid ACT is the other part of the legal assistance sector in Canberra. I recently had the opportunity to visit Legal Aid and see how hard their staff work across criminal, family and civil areas of law. I also saw the innovative approaches that they take to make sure they can provide an appropriate and personal touch and make sure that people are given the best support that they can get and have their best chance to get their lives on track when they find themselves having difficulty with legal issues.

Having painted a picture of the full community legal sector in Canberra, let me turn to funding. The legal assistance sector is funded in the ACT as part of a national


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