Community Legal WA (CLWA) welcomes the state government investment into community legal assistance announced today by the Attorney General Honourable John Quigley MLA.

The introduction of four-year funding agreements for community legal centres (CLCs) is particularly welcomed. CLWA Chief Executive Officer Chelsea McKinney said that the new 4-year agreements provide the kind of steady income needed for CLCs to focus on improving service delivery and developing more innovative ways to meet people’s needs.

The government has also provided the community legal sector with additional funding of $1.85 million per year, compared to funding received last year.

‘This increase in funding will help CLCs pay for the growing cost of service delivery including paying fair wages to staff and meeting the costs of contemporary, high-quality legal services,’ Ms McKinney said. The funding boost also enables expansion of services in some regions that had particularly pressing gaps in the past and is a step towards more equitable access to services.

However, the funding falls short, with most CLCs still only able to maintain existing levels of service. This means that community legal centres will continue to prioritise service delivery to maximise impact within available resources, and that some services or population groups will miss out.

CLCs provide both specialist and local, place-based, services across the state. They offer an integrated model of care to meet the legal and holistic needs of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our community. These include women and children escaping family and domestic violence, people whose tenancies are at risk due higher rents and the impact of COVID-19, and people whose employment is at risk in the continuing uncertainty of the pandemic environment.

For all these groups, demand is rising with an estimated 29,000 people turned away from CLCs in Western Australia last year. 

Ms McKinney said that we need to fill service gaps so that no matter where someone lives their human rights can be met. ‘We know that demand is growing and that in the coming years many more vulnerable people will require legal assistance so that their basic needs for housing, safety and employment can be addressed.’

Community Legal WA keenly awaits the September state budget and urges the government to direct some of its expected budget surplus towards the CLC sector’s pre-election call for an additional $3.5 million per year.

CLWA values the state government’s commitment to access to justice and looks forward to continuing our close partnership with the government and other legal assistance agencies to identify and respond to the most pressing legal needs and gaps for West Australians.


Further information
  • In 2019-20, CLCs helped 27,874 vulnerable Western Australians to access justice.
  • In 2019-20, the top legal issues CLCs supported people with were family and domestic violence, employment law, family law, parenting arrangements, tenancy, and credit and debt.
  • 26 not-for-profit CLCs provide free or low-cost legal support to vulnerable people across WA, offering both specialist legal services, and local, place-based services.
  • CLCs support people to resolve legal issues early, before they escalate and become more serious.
  • Community led, CLCs respond to the emerging needs of local communities, such as in emergencies and disasters, helping people at risk of losing their tenancy, and providing a crucial part of the package of services needed to support safety for women and children that are victims of family and domestic violence.
  • The impact of COVID is significant with 50% of CLCs reporting that clients have more complex issues, and 46% reporting that clients have more urgent issues during the pandemic.
  • An estimated 29,000 people were turned away from WA CLC’s in 2019-20.

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