The Australian Greens today welcomed an announcement by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon that $1.6million would be allocated to legal assistance services around Australia but called for a more substantial investment in the near future.
"I am heartened by this announcement, and to see Ms Roxon acknowledge the strong cost-benefit of Community Legal Centres," Greens spokesperson for Legal Affairs, Senator Penny Wright, said.
"As the Attorney-General acknowledged, the Government's $1.6million allocation to legal assistance services is a modest investment, particularly because Community Legal Centres are operating under increasingly strained circumstances due to underfunding and within a system that has been described by community lawyers as reaching a crisis point.
"Just weeks ago, an Australian Council of Social Services survey revealed that approximately 73 per cent of legal services are struggling to meet demand for their services and that waiting lists are very long.
"The Australia Institute also recently highlighted that each year approximately 500,000 Australians are missing out on essential legal services.
"Community Legal Centres fill a significant gap in providing legal services for those Australians who can otherwise not afford legal representation, including low income earners and people from non-English speaking backgrounds.
"We need to recognise and value the important work community lawyers and legal centres do by properly resourcing and funding them. I hope that the Government will follow up on this announcement with a more substantial investment in the near future."