The value of community legal centres

Community Law AustraliaThe launch of a new campaign and report by Community Law Australia was a valuable reminder of the importance of community legal centres in providing legal help to people who can’t afford a private lawyer or aren’t eligible for legal aid.

Over the years, the foundation has funded hundreds of projects by community legal centres which have had a real impact on the lives of Victorians. We’ve even funded new community legal centres to help meet demand for legal services, including the Public Interest Law Clearing House (Vic) and the Environment Defenders Office.

In 2011/12, 42 per cent of our grants funds supported projects by community legal centres to help local communities address a range of legal issues or overcome barriers to legal services. These projects complement traditional legal advice services provided by community legal centres and are often delivered on top of their normal workloads, requiring significant commitment from staff and volunteers.

Here are just a few examples of recent projects by community legal centres in Victoria. There are many more examples on our website and in our annual reports.

Grant projects by community legal centres in Victoria

  • Consumer Action Law Centre – a project to understand why thousands of Victorians fail to seek legal help in relation to relatively small debt claims.
  • Youthlaw – videos to help raise awareness about the legal problems affecting young people
  • North Melbourne Legal Service – a project to develop and pilot an innovative program for young people aimed at preventing family violence in inner north-west Melbourne (in partnership with Doutta Galla Community Health Service and local secondary schools).

To find out more about the services provided by your local community legal centre visit the Federation of Community Legal Centres. Or if you’ve got a legal problem and aren’t sure which type of legal service you need, our Law help guide 2012 is a good place to start your search.

And finally, if you’re a community legal centre and you’re looking for funding for your legal project, applications for our next grants round close 12 September so now is the time to start speaking to our grants manager.

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