Legal literacy program set to expand

A LEGAL literacy initiative run by the Launceston Community Legal Centre will soon be made available to rural and regional communities across the state.

Already under way in Tasmania's North and North- East, the service will be rolled out across the rest of Tasmania later this year.

The program's expansion has been made possible through a $176,000 grant secured before the state government entered caretaker mode.

The cash injection was part of $1.445 million of grants announced by Attorney-General Brian Wightman yesterday.

Money allocated to the Launceston Community Legal Centre will fund the recruitment of legal literacy co-ordinators in the state's North-West and South.

Also paid for through the grant will be initial and ongoing training for a team of volunteer advocates in each of the regions.

Launceston Community Legal Centre spokeswoman Beylara Ra said the program was designed to help people daunted by the prospect of potential legal issues or paperwork.

"We work with local clients to address issues before they require legal advice or intervention," she said.

"Our volunteers don't give legal advice, they give information and referrals to accredited legal practitioners."

Ms Ra said people often approached the free legal service with questions about areas of employment, family, residential and consumer laws.

"We're trying to educate and empower local communities to use lawyers more effectively and ensure their contact with the legal system doesn't go pear- shaped," she said.

"If people get early, effective and correct legal advice, it can save them and the state's court system thousands of dollars down the track."

Ms Ra said the legal literacy service had already made a tangible difference in Tasmania's North and North-East."There's no doubt this program has changed people's lives for the better," she said.

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