New Community Legal Centre for Tweed Shire
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Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre (NRCLC) based in Lismore has been assisting people in the Tweed Shire for the last 10 years. NRCLC had observed an increasing need for legal assistance in the Tweed Shire (with high population growth) and was delighted to secure a small pool of funding in 2008 to open an office in the area.
The new office is in Murwillumbah and was officially opened by the NSW Attorney General, the Hon. John Hatzistergos on 13 March 2009. It employs two part-time staff - a Solicitor and a Community Development/Community Legal Education (CD/CLE) worker.
NRCLC’s solicitor provides free legal advice to the local community at the Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah Courthouses and at the Pottsville Neighbourhood Centre on a rotating basis. Since the official opening all appointments have been fully booked.
NRCLC has also received numerous requests for CLE programmes. The CD/CLE worker has contacted all the relevant services in the Tweed Shire to ascertain their specific needs for community legal education (CLE) programmes. She recently attended a Youth Expo, following which she will be delivering education sessions to youth groups on their legal rights. She is a member of a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Steering Committee which is organising a “Unity Festival’ in November 2009, to highlight the continuing need of CALD communities for work on eliminating discrimination. In May 2009 the solicitor and CD/CLE worker will attend a Seniors Expo in Tweed and present a CLE on Powers of Attorney.
NRCLC is pleased, but not surprised by the demand on appointments in the new office. More than half of NRCLC’s clients have always come from the Tweed area, even though the Centre is based in Lismore. NRCLC believes the high demand on their services demonstrates the great need in this area, not only for a Community Legal Centre, but also for a locally based office of the Legal Aid Commission.