Federal government reverses funding cuts to community legal centre | video

Mid North Coast Community Legal Centre's Tim Bauer, Jane Titterington, Kimm Conradsen and Tamsin Wells. Pic: Oscar Carter
Mid North Coast Community Legal Centre's Tim Bauer, Jane Titterington, Kimm Conradsen and Tamsin Wells. Pic: Oscar Carter

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The federal government decision to reverse a planned 30 per cent cut to community legal centres has been welcomed by the solicitor with the Mid-North Coast office.

Jane Titterington said the decision provides certainty for the delivery of services.

The funding cuts were earmarked 12 months ago and were due to take effect on July 1, 2017.

“We welcome the announcement and thank the attorney general,” Mrs Titterington said.

“While it is too early to determine funding levels to individual centres, this announcement is good news for the many disadvantaged people across the Mid-North Coast that seek out our services.

“Our footprint extends from Kempsey through to the Manning area and we also provide outreach services to Laurieton, South West Rocks and the correction centre.”

Mrs Titterington said the centre provides advice and assistance to thousands of people in any one year.

The nature of their services and assistance levels makes it difficult to quantify the exact number of clients the service assists, she said.

“We are sometimes the first point of call for people who are seeking initial advice and information,” she said.

“In the last financial year we probably gave advice to over 1000 people, provided case work for several hundred people and provide information on how to access self help information for hundreds more.

“Alongside those services, we would also set up and assist with community legal education and community days.”

Mrs Titterington said the Mid North Coast Community Legal Centre’s core responsibility was to provide services to the disadvantaged, the low income, the aboriginal community, homeless people, people living with a disability or people living with a mental health issue and people experiencing employment issues.

The service also extends to people experiencing debt problems or people escaping instances of domestic violence.

“They can be the young and they can be old,” she added.

The Mid North Coast Community Legal Centre employs a total of seven staff in either full or part-time positions while there are also many volunteers who assist the service throughout the year.

The centre is also used by students as placement for professional training.

Mrs Titterington said she believed community legal centres should attract increased funding.

The federal government announcement includes $39 million for community legal centres over three years under the national partnership agreement on legal assistance services. The announcement also included an additional $16.7 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services.

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