Ensuring Tasmanians have equal access to justice is the motivation behind a push for more funding to support community legal centres.
Peak body Community Legal Centres Tasmania has called on both major political parties to secure future funding. Currently the centres are forced to seek new funding each year at both a state and federal level.
CLC Tasmania spokesman Ben Bartl said without being able to promise a secure future the centres struggled to retain staff.
“Job security becomes an issue, if we’re struggling to retain staff it means there’s a loss of knowledge,” he said.
“The best possible representation we can provide will be provided when we’ve got skilled staff in those roles and if we have longstanding staff in those positions, vulnerable members of the community can be assured they’re getting the very best representation and access to justice would be better.”
Responding to the call from CLC Tasmania, Labor said it “strongly believed that all Tasmanians should have effective access to justice on an equal basis”.
“Labor will commit to lobbying federally for an increase in all CLC funding,” Bass Labor MHA Michelle O’Byrne said.
A Liberals spokesman said the party was “continuing to engage with the CLCs regarding their funding arrangements, as well as working with the Commonwealth to ensure the continuation of their ongoing funding responsibilities for these important legal assistance organisations”.
In Tasmania the general community legal centres are based in Launceston, Hobart and the North-West.
There are five other centres – Animal Welfare Community Legal Centre, Environmental Defenders Office, Tenants’ Union of Tasmania, Women’s Legal Service and Worker Assist.