Why community legal centres are the “beating heart” of the legal profession
Events such as the 2022 floods, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the 2019-20 bushfire season have fueled unprecedented demand for the free legal assistance sector in NSW.
But with funding uncertainty preventing the ability for long-term planning, the sector is fighting an uphill battle.
Keely McDonough reports for LSJ
In the 2020-21 financial year, Redfern Legal Centre saw a 200 per cent increase in the number of referral and information services delivered at its front desk and during advice and casework.
Despite this unprecedented level of demand, RLC CEO Katherine McKernan says current funding uncertainty leaves RLC caught in ‘a holding pattern’:
“We could potentially see two parts of our service delivery, if decisions are made soon, really grow and progress in the employment law and family violence space,” McKernan told LSJ.
“But we don’t have any certainty around that, so we are having to make decisions about staffing and clients in a short-term way … We would really like to see some decisions from the NSW Government around what’s happening with the funding so we have certainty. Then longer term the demand needs to be looked at and how that is actually going to be resourced.”