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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 June 2021) . . Page.. 1631 ..


“(1) notes:

(a) Community Legal Centres (CLCs) are a key support in Canberra’s legal assistance sector, alongside Legal Aid ACT. Together they provide a range of valuable and specialised legal services, helping to support vulnerable and disadvantaged Canberrans;

(b) ACT CLCs include the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, Canberra Community Law, Women’s Legal Centre, the Consumer Law Centre, and the Environmental Defenders Office; and

(c) demand for legal assistance in Canberra has grown and become more complex as a result of COVID-19. This increased pressure remains;

(2) further notes:

(a) the Federal and ACT Governments have jointly provided short-term COVID-related funding to the legal assistance sector until 30 June 2021;

(b) the latest Federal Government Budget did not continue this funding for the majority of ACT CLCs, leaving them at risk of a shortfall in resources to maintain current service levels from 1 July 2021;

(c) sources of private and non-government funding to the legal assistance sector have decreased during the pandemic; and

(d) the ACT Government will make funding decisions regarding the ACT’s legal assistance sector as part of its 2021-22 Budget process, and advise the sector as soon as practical; and

(3) calls on the Federal Government to recommit support for the ACT’s legal assistance sector.”

I commend the amendment to the Assembly.

MR PARTON (Brindabella) (4.14): I stand to speak in support of Ms Lee’s motion. As the shadow minister for housing, I spend seemingly more than half my life advocating for people who have fallen through the cracks of housing or who are about to fall through. And those cracks seem to be getting wider. For that cohort, Canberra Community Law is the critical last line of defence against homelessness. I implore the government to grant them the certainty that would enable these services to continue.

Based on what has been said in the chamber, I do not think that there is any disagreement on this particular aspect of this debate. I cannot overstate the importance of this organisation and of some of the organisations that have been added to by Mr Rattenbury in this debate.

Particularly when it comes to Canberra Community Law, those who are staring down the barrel of the prospect of homelessness are always, always, facing severe economic challenges. They are just about never able to fend for themselves in the legal space. And the services provided by CCL, the understanding that they have in this space and, I guess, the genuine human ability to actually care, are unmatched.

Their importance has been elevated even further by two things of the government’s doing: (a) the discontinuation of funding for the Tenants Union ACT, which this Labor-Greens government did in 2019; and (b) the extreme housing affordability


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