Hunter Community Legal Centre outreach lawyer to continue work in Port Stephens

Yacaaba Centre staff have breathed a sigh of relief following the NSW Government’s $6 million funding announcement that will save community legal centre jobs across the state.

Centre director Lynn Vatner said as far as she was aware, the outreach lawyer provided to the Yacaaba Centre by the Hunter Community Legal Centre would continue his work in the area.

There were fears the position would be cut when a new funding arrangement for NSW community legal centres came into play on July 1.

“The system is still working here,” Ms Vatner said.

“Someone will be here, as scheduled, next Wednesday (April 19).”

Ms Vatner said the outreach legal service was “very well used” and she was “very keen to see it continue”.

A $6 million rescue package for community legal centres was announced by NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman last week.

The package will provide addition support to community centres during the next two years to fix a federal government funding shortfall that was set to plunge the sector into crisis.

Community legal centres, which provide free legal advice to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, were facing a wave of job losses and closures from July 1 as federal funding was set to be slashed by 30 per cent.

In NSW, this translated to a cut of about $3 million  a year.

The NSW Council of Social Service welcomed the announcement.

Council CEO Tracy Howe said community legal centres are the “heart of our community”.

“They ensure everyone has access to justice, not just those who can afford it,” she said.

“We’re so pleased the NSW Government has stepped up to the plate.”