Queensland has two more weeks to decide whether to accept or reject a funding proposal from the federal government that would see its contributions to legal services cut by 23 per cent from 1 July 2017.
The Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services (QAILS) warned the funding cuts could jeopardise access to justice in the state.
“Unresolved legal problems can escalate, leading to added strain and cost to the justice system and further legal, financial, social and health problems for the individual,” QAILS director James Farrell said.
QAILS joined several community service NGOs – such as the Queensland Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies, Anglicare, Youth Affairs Network of Queensland, UnitingCare, Mater Young Adult Health Centre and the Australian Pensioners’ and Superannuants’ League – in calling on federal attorney-general George Brandis to commit to better funding.
“We hope the federal government will listen to the community and these services and ensure vulnerable people can access legal services when they face a crisis,” Mr Farrell said.
“They should also accept the Productivity Commission’s advice to provide a $200m funding increase, rather than cutting funding and services, by a quarter.”
Previously, the National Association of Community Legal Centres has expressed disappointment that the Federal Budget failed to address “chronic underfunding” in free legal services.
Similar funding arrangements in South Australia have threatened the future of two community legal centres.