Legal help matters. 

It matters to the woman trying to escape family violence and cannot afford to lose the roof over her children’s head.

It matters to the man who has lost his job due to Covid and has debt collectors knocking at his door.

It matters to the family in financial hardship who need to know their rights about tenant evictions.

But providing legal help was not a top priority for the Commonwealth or State Government in their 2020 budgets. 

The budgets failed to secure sustainable funding for community legal centres to assist the avalanche of people requiring legal help at this critical time.

Before the Covid pandemic, more than half of WA’s community legal centres were forced to stop taking new clients to manage demand at some point last year.

Since Covid, the increase in demand for legal help with tenancy, family and domestic violence, employment matters and credit & debt are growing - with the worst yet to come.

We know people experiencing disadvantage are more vulnerable to legal problems[1] and Covid has seen the number of unemployed people double to over 1.45 million.[2]   

With the unemployment rate rising[3] and JobSeeker set to reduce to just $40 a day,[4] from $78 a day at the start of the pandemic, community legal centres are bracing for further demand from people seeking legal help.

A second surge from tenants is also expected when the moratorium on evictions ends in March. 

We acknowledge and appreciate the one-off Covid funding from the Commonwealth and State Government pre-budget, but we know it is not enough to meet demand with funding running out in 6 months.  This will coincide with the expected avalanche of legal demand as JobSeeker rates reduce  and the moratorium on evictions ends.

Community legal centres, staffed predominantly by women, do excellent work with limited resources and are extremely efficient, securing 70,000 hours in volunteer and pro bono contributions last year.

With both the State and Commonwealth Government emphasising the need to create jobs, this was also a missed opportunity to fund many job-ready positions in community legal centres, which are desperately needed and currently delivered by un-paid volunteers.


[1] ‘The Justice Project – Final Report,’ Overarching Themes, August 2018. Pg 6.  The Law Council of Australia.

[2] Source: