The head of Tasmania's Environmental Defenders Office says she spends "a lot" of her time fundraising for the organisation due to a lack of state and federal funding for the service - time she says would be better spent "providing better services to the community".
EDO Tasmania chief executive Nicole Sommer is the latest legal practitioner to speak out against the current level of funding - from both the federal and state governments - for legal assistance services in the state.
The EDO offers advice and assistance to Tasmanians concerned about environmental planning law issues who may be looking to represent themselves at the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal.
The National Partnership Agreement (NPA), a federal funding mechanism which determines the distribution of legal assistance funding across the country, expires on July 1, 2020, at which time a new agreement will be struck.
No federal funding has been provided to EDOs since 2013, while the Tasmanian and South Australian EDO offices are the only ones in the country not to receive "substantive" state funding.
EDO Tasmania received a meagre $8750 from the state government in the 2019-20 budget.
"The funding that we do receive from the state, whilst welcome, doesn't even cover the rent," Ms Sommer said. "We rely, really, on the generosity of mum-and-dad donors to keep our doors open."
"I spend a lot of my time on fundraising which is not a way that a lawyer of my experience should be using her time.
"I could be providing better services to the community if I had security of funding."
In a state budget estimates hearing last week, Greens leader Cassy O'Connor asked Attorney-General Elise Archer why the EDO didn't receive additional funding under the Solicitors' Guarantee Fund.
Ms Archer responded: "Any body or organisation of a community nature can apply to the Solicitors' Guarantee Fund and it's assessed and contributions are made accordingly in the limited funds available."
She said the reason EDO Tasmania didn't get funding through the NPA because "Commonwealth funding priorities do not include environmental law".