Vulnerable people in Moree will be able to continue to access free legal advice thanks to a $6 million funding boost to community legal centres by the NSW goverment.
North and North West Community Legal Service (NNWCLS), which operates an outreach centre in Moree once a month, has welcomed the state government announcement to nearly double its contribution to community legal services across the state.
Community legal services are on the brink of a funding crisis as federal funding is set to be cut by 30 per cent from July 1.
As NNWCLS are already receiving the bare minimum funding allocation, they weren’t facing cuts, however principal solicitor Terri King said the state government’s increased contribution is a big win for the community.
“In the community legal sector our resources are already stretched as is – so if there were cuts to other centres, it puts more pressure on them and ourselves,” Ms King said. “Already we have to turn people away because our current level of funding doesn’t cover the need for our service.”
NNWCLS have only three solicitors who service 11 outreach locations, including Moree.
Ms King visits the Moree Community Library on the last Thursday of every month, where she has face-to-face appointments available for up to five clients.
The generalist service is able to help clients with a range of legal issues from criminal matters to credit and debt issues.
In Moree, Ms King mostly covers family law matters, Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship cases, as well as a lot of civil law issues.
NNWCLS has been coming to Moree for many years, however if the service were to lose a solicitor, Moree, being one of their furthest outreach locations, would potentially be one of the first places to be cut.
“This state government funding ultimately guarantees the current level of service delivery that we provide,” Ms King said. “If they cut funding, jobs will have to go and that’s when your ability to assist clients is reduced.
“Having our funding guaranteed means we don’t have to look at cutting any of our outreach services. It provides that security for people in all communities.”
Ms King said with funding secured for the next two years, NNWCLS is looking to expand community awareness of their services.
“This will allow us to look into and be more creative with advertising to try to get our name out there in the community,” she said.
“We can only assist vulnerable people when they know we exist.
“We’re very keen for everyone to know we’re out there.”
Anyone in Moree can access NNWCLS’ free legal assistance by calling 1800 687 687 or 6772 8100.
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