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19 February, 2022

Legal services get funding boost

More money will be allocated to legal services, as announced last week, and Gilgandra is more than ready to benefit.

By Emily Middleton

The Western NSW Community Legal Centre, Legal Aid NSW, Aboriginal Legal Service, Women’s Legal Service, and Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre were among 14 providers successful in receiving a slice of the additional $52 million over four years.

Karly Warner, CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service who also work in Gilgandra, has said that while the additional funding is welcomed, it’s still not enough to meet the level of need in the community.

“Last year we supported well over 23,600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with these matters across NSW and the ACT, but we know there are more people needing our help,” said Mrs Warner.

“We support Aboriginal people in Gilgandra via out- reach from our Dubbo office, and regularly appear in Gilgandra Local Court.

“Our solicitors and Aboriginal field officers help people to deal with police matters and criminal charges, family law, and keeping Aboriginal kids safe and cared for within their family, kin, culture and community.”

Minister for western NSW Dugald Saunders said the funding is in addition to the $43 million already allocat- ed to Legal Aid NSW and the Western NSW Community Legal Centre under the National Legal

Assistance Partnership Agreement 2020-25 (NLAP). “It’s an unfortunate fact that residents of western NSW are among the most vulnerable when it comes to need- ing access to the legal system, but this funding will help address that need,” said Mr Saunders.

“It will help provide some level of surety that assis- tance will be there for domestic and family violence vic- tim-survivors, people with mental health issues and workers who have experienced sexual harassment and discrimination.

“Organisations like the Western NSW Community Legal Centre and the Aboriginal Legal Service provide vital legal help to the community, and I’m delighted this additional support will enable lawyers to help those who can least afford it.”

The successful organisations were selected follow- ing a rigorous panel assessment, and Mr Speakman, NSW attorney general, said each plays a vital role in providing support within the legal system.

“This funding will help ensure people who are doing it tough have access to legal support when they need it,” Mr Speakman said.

“The dedicated lawyers and staff or our legal assis- tance sector provide an invaluable contribution by deliv- ering much needed help to disadvantaged communities where many people are feeling the impact of COVID- 19,” he said. 

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