Report: Community legal centres’ disaster response


Community legal centres are vital services that are flexible and responsive in times of crisis. We’re able to mobilise quickly, make and sustain connections within our communities, and support people in times of vulnerability and hardship. Download the full report. 

The view from Mid-North Coast Community Legal Centre’s front door during the 2019/20 bushfires.

Community legal centres across NSW form a vital part of the safety net that help protect marginalised people and communities from the social and economic impacts of crises, like extreme weather events and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our communities are often first and hardest hit by extreme weather conditions. People experiencing financial hardship, First Nations people, people who are homeless, people with disabilities, and people living in rural, regional and remote communities, are time and time again left with inadequate protection from climate catastrophes such as bushfires, flooding, extreme heat or cold, hailstorms, and more.

Alongside the physical and psychological impacts, crises like these can create or exacerbate serious legal issues, including problems with insurance claims, housing and tenancies, income and social security, credit and debt, family violence and family law, destroyed documents and wills, and more.

In 2020, community legal centres in NSW received Commonwealth Government funding to support the sector’s response to the Summer 2019 Bushfires and to the COVID-19 pandemic. Centres have used the funding in a variety of ways, including providing outreach to bushfire-affected communities, boosting digital service delivery, increasing staff capacity, and developing self- help resources.

Community legal centres are best-placed to respond to the needs of their communities during and after natural disasters and other crises. However, temporary or short-term funding, while welcome, can create inefficiencies and uncertainty. Sufficient and sustainable baseline funding will enable us to respond quickly and efficiently in times of crisis when our communities need us most.

Download the Community legal centres' disaster response report

Financial Rights Legal Centre senior solicitor Jen Lewis (second from left) and solicitor Naomi Delaney (far right) with two members of the local St Albans Rural Fire Service.