QAILS Quarterly | April 2016

QAILS Quarterly


Highlighting the work of Queensland's community legal centres

Queensland community legal centres have over 30 years of service delivery experience providing free information, advice and referral, casework and representation to the community. 

Cutting funding for community legal services a travesty of justice

LAST year, our members provided legal help to almost 50,000 people.  As many of you will know from seeing people coming through your doors every day, fewer and fewer people are able to afford a lawyer to assist them with legal problems, so more people rely on government-funded services when they’re facing a crisis.

But another 80,000 were turned away from Queensland’s centres. These people were unable to speak to a lawyer on the phone to get advice about their rights as a renter, or see a lawyer to get advice about their dispute with a bank, or to get someone to represent them in a divorce proceeding.

Rather than increasing the services available to people with legal problems, the federal government has flagged that it will reduce funding for legal assistance services by 30 per cent. Attorney-General George Brandis and new federal Minister for Women, Michaela Cash, have acknowledged the cuts to community legal centre funding and said maintaining new funding would be looked at as part of the Government’s budget processes.

The acknowledgment of the cuts is welcome, but the real test is whether the Federal Government will commit to concrete actions that will ensure people get access to the legal help they need.

Last year, the Federal Government spent $728 million on its own lawyers, but it says it can’t find the $12 million it needs to maintain community legal services across Australia, or even the $1.8 million to maintain services in Queensland. The money is there, and the Government should prioritise providing help to vulnerable people facing legal crises.

So what are Queensland Community Legal Centres doing about this?  Last week QAILS Director, James Farrell as well as community lawyers from across Australia visited Canberra to encourage our elected leaders to ensure that these organisations will continue to offer their critical services.  This resulted in three questions being asked of the Attorney-General in parliament and a motion being passed supporting funding for CLCs.

Behind the scenes we have been having one-on-one meetings with state and federal MPs and their staff. We are also working proactively to keep this issue in the media.  For examples the launch of our recent report, Enough is enough, on ABC TV, was reported on in the Brisbane Times, Nova106.9, 9 News, Yahoo 7 and ABC News , and James Farrell's opinion piece in the Courier-Mail .

You can support this work by:
  • Talking about your work, and the people you help, on social media using the #fundequaljustice hash tag;
  • Meeting with your local member of parliament (see a list of state and federal members);
  • Telling QAILS about the impacts of these federal funding cuts on services in your community;
  • Subscribing to Community Law Australia campaign updates.
 Qails thanks you for your continual support and believes that working together will see disadvantaged Australian’s get the legal help they deserve.  Anything else is a travesty of justice.

International Women’s Day Morning Tea 2016

Showcasing the work of our members

North Queensland Women’s Legal Service partnered with Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland in both Cairns and Townsville to host a morning tea event in both cities for International Women’s Day 2016. Read about the event here.

Mackay Regional CLC helps reunite a family - Hayley* and David* and their two young children lived together as a family until they were evicted from their rental property. Hayley and David were homeless for 3 months. They entrusted the care of their two children to two family members while they stabilised their living arrangements.  Read how Mackay Regional CLC helped to reunite this family here.

Cairns CLC helps clear hospital fees of client's late husband - A client contacted the Cairns CLC in relation to a dispute with a health service provider.  The Cairns CLC reviewed correspondence, which was addressed to the client's late husband. The Centre wrote to the hospital advising that the client has no legal obligation to pay the invoices and requesting that all future demands be directed to the executors of the client's late-husband's estate. Read the outcome here.

Mackay Regional CLC keep Keith* on his feet - Even though Keith* continued to work full time in a fairly well paid job, he became bankrupt shortly after his separation from Jenny* due to debts incurred during the relationship. Mackay Regional CLC assisted Keith in his bankruptcy matter by corresponding with his trustee in bankruptcy.  Read the outcome here. 

Park and Village Information Link works with client to enforce rights - Samantha* is a resident of a retirement village and attended a talk about Retirement Living Options presented by the Park and Village Information Link. Samantha used the advice to make an informed decision to stay in the village. Read the outcome here.

Bill Mitchell (Townsville CLS) and Anne Lewis (Seniors Creating Change)

Queensland's community legal centres in the spotlight

Bill Mitchell (Townsville Community Legal Service Inc.) and Anne Lewis (Seniors Creating Change) presented at the Elder Abuse Conference which took place 23 to 24 February in Melbourne. They presented on the subject of Seniors Creating Change: From Idea to Intervention. Download a copy of the presentation here.

700% increase in calls answered - The new Women’s Legal Service Helpline was established and has been up and running since 7 January 2016. Over this short time they have already exceeded the calls they answered in 2015 - with a total of 1607 calls answered to date. This equals a 700% increase in assistance in only two and a half months.

Suncoast Community Legal Centre nominated for Australia Day Award - Suncoast Community Legal Service was honoured to be awarded Community Organisation of the Year at the 2016 Australia Day Awards hosted by Sunshine Coast Council.

Cairns Community Legal Centre recently published a booklet for seniors called ‘Care for your Assets: Money, Ageing and Family’. Download a copy here.

EDO NQ has appointed a principal solicitor - Tania Herber has been appointed as the new Principal Solicitor with Environmental Defenders Office of Northern Queensland. Tania has responsibility for the organisation’s work in planning and environment litigation, legal advice, law reform and community legal education.

Increased services from the Mackay Regional CLC - Mackay Regional Community Legal Centre received funding from the Department of Housing and Public Works via Tenants Queensland as part of the STARS program.  As a result of this funding they employed a full time and part-time solicitor to focus on residential tenancy and rooming accommodation issues. They are also participating in the DV duty lawyer program which is allowing them to provide duty lawyer service to respondents every second Friday.

The QPILCH Mental Health Law Practice held it’s annual training weekend in late February and has 27 new advocates on board for the Tribunal Advocacy Service. Now in its 5th year, the Advocacy Service helps people on Involuntary Treatment Orders prepare for their review hearings at the Mental Health Review Tribunal. For more information go here.


Meet our sponsor

The Services Union is committed to Real Change to make Australia a more just place to live and work. We strive to improve the wages and working conditions of our members and to make our workplaces fairer and more respectful.

Our members working in the Social and Community Sector are frontline employees. They work tirelessly helping others and building communities.

The Services Union aims to ensure that vital public and community services reach everyone who needs them.

Through our Union, we strive to make the Social and Community Sector better by fighting for increased, long term government funding. We work with our members and workplace delegates to help them engage with all levels of government to ensure the future of their services in the public interest.

Our Union gives our members the strength and power to ensure that their voices are heard and acted upon.  To find out more go here.

Find a centre near you
If you're looking for services in your local area, our Centre Locator provides a map-based search of all accredited Community Legal Centres in Queensland.

Visit the QAILS website for more information about QAILS or Queensland's community legal centres.


The Advocacy and Support Centre opens in Roma , Maranoa Plus More.

Tough times for WLSQ legal helpline, Courier Mail p.12.

Legal centres tackle Brandis on funds. Syndicated throughout Queensland.

Cutting funding for community legal services a travesty of justice, Courier Mail p.36.

Community Legal Centres to meet with MPS today over funding. Syndicated throughout Australia.

More than 30,000 to suffer if community legal centre funding cuts go through.  Syndicated throughout Australia.

Suncoast Community Legal Service's first gala ball in 32 years to assist domestic violence victims. Maroochy Weekly.

The human rights of Women with Dementia. Queensland Women's Health Network Newsletter.

New funding for their Senior Legal Service. 7 News.

Queensland Law Society welcomes short-term funding for CLCs.

Ian Walker MP criticises the close of Roma legal centre. Western Star.

MYEFO Falls short lf legal funding, Lawyers Weekly.

State Parliament Legal Affairs Committee inquiry into a Human Rights Charter for Queensland. 612 ABC.

'Deadly consequences' for government cuts. Brisbane Legal.

International Women’s Day Morning Tea 2016

Sector events


QAI Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme: Accommodation for people with disabilities and the NDIS

EDO NQ submission to the Standing Committee on the Environment: Register of Environmental Organisations

EDO QLD submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications: The threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia

QAI Submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Education and Employment: The feasibility of, and options for, creating a national long service standard, and the portability of long service and other entitlements

QAI Submission into the Education, Tourism, Innovation and Small Business Committee: Inquiry into a suitable model for the Implementation of the National Injury Insurance Scheme 2016

EDO QLD submission on the Finance and Administration Committee: North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability (Renewal of Mining Leases) Amendment Bill 2015 and North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2015 – EDO Qld

QAI Submission into the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee: Disability Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

EDO Qld and EDO NQ submissions into the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resource Committee: Planning Bills 2015

QAILS, ATSILS, YAC submissions into the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee: Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

QAILS, WLSQ, QIFVLS submissions into the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee: Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2015

QAI and ATSILS  submissions into the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee: Review of the Crime and Corruption Committee 2015

QPILCH submission into the Transportation and Utilities Committee: Plumbing and Drainage and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

Thanks to our major funder

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