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Drought legal forum boosted

DROUGHT-AFFECTED farmers will continue to receive free online legal advice after the Federal Government announced additional funding for The Drought Law Forum, to support its operation until…

DROUGHT-AFFECTED farmers will continue to receive free online legal advice after the Federal Government announced additional funding for The Drought Law Forum, to support its operation until July 2009.

Funded by the Department of Family, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and a project of the Victoria Law Foundation, the website is designed to provide legal advice to farmers in remote areas facing financial difficulties and personal stress as a result of the drought.

FaHCSIA said that the Forum has received more than 10,000 visits since first appearing online in September 2007, and has provided answers to legal questions on diverse subjects including debt management, share farming, contracts, water rights, boundary disputes, driving offences and inheritance issues.

Jon Kirby, executive director of Victoria Law Foundation, said that accessing legal information anonymously allows famers to prevent issues escalating and costs spiralling out of control. “It’s been great partnering with FaHCSIA because they recognise the danger of letting legal issues escalate and how easily this can be avoided by providing people with practical and relevant information when they need it,” he said.

The funding will also allow the production and distribution of 30,000 brochures outlining contact details for legal information and advice services in remotes areas around Australia.

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