2006/2007 CCLCG (NSW) Annual Report


The Annual Report for the Combined Community Legal Centres' Group, for the 2006-2007 financial year.


Chairperson's Report:

In 2006/07 the State Office made significant advances, particularly in the confirmation of the positive work of CLCs and in accessing greater funding for the sector.

Review finds NSW CLCs “sound, well conceived and well administered”

NSW Community Legal Centres were declared to have a clean bill of health after an extensive review of the NSW Community Legal Centres Funding Program. On 15 February 2007, the Commonwealth Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and the NSW Attorney-General Bob Debus released the Report of the Review of the NSW Community Legal Centres Funding Program Copies of the report can be downloaded from the CCLCG website: www.nswclc.org.au

The Review, which received over 50 submissions from community organisations, government departments and individuals, found that the CLC Funding Program is “sound, well-conceived and well administered” and represents “an effective use of public funds” that warrants continued government support.

The Review noted that a key strength of the program is that Centres have flexibility to design and develop their service delivery model, based on their knowledge and experience of communities, and their strong relationships with other service providers. The Report also noted that
CLCs are highly effective at identifying unmet legal need in the community, and using a mix of strategies including legal services, community development approaches, law reform and community legal education, to meet these needs.

CCLCG welcomed the Review Report and its recommendations to resource all existing CLCs to a minimum baseline level of funding. The Review also found that Centres are under-resourced and under-funded to meet the growing demand for their services, and that more funding would improve the accessibility of CLCs to Indigenous Australians and other disadvantaged client groups.

CCLCG will continue to work with the Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General to address the Review Report’s recommendations and improve the work of CLCs.

Funding for two new programs for NSW CLCs!

CLCs were delighted when the Public Purpose Fund approved a grant of over $400,000/year for two State-wide programs:

1. CCLCG Training Program; and
2. CCLCGAboriginalLegalAccessProgram.

The need for these two programs was identified in the Report of the Review of the NSW Community Legal Centres Funding Program, and the funds now enable CCLCG to implement some of the recommendations of the report.

The CCLCG Training Program specifically aims to ensure that CLCs have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide the best services possible to their clients against the backdrop of a rapidly changing legal scene. In particular centres in rural regional and remote areas will be provided with opportunities to train and develop their staff and management committee members. CLCCG welcomed Joanna Mantziaris as the Training Program Coordinator to oversee this program.

The CCLCG Aboriginal Legal Access Program responds to the continuing difficulty Aboriginal clients face in accessing legal services. CCLCG welcomed Renee Williamson as the Aboriginal Legal Access Program Coordinator to oversee this program.

CLCs found that Aboriginal clients faced compounded problems as members of social and economically disadvantaged communities that made it hard to access legal services. In response to this several CLCs have initiated very positive projects to improve the accessibility of their services for Aboriginal clients. The CCLCG Aboriginal Legal Access Program was initiated to strengthen these existing initiatives and enable them to continue and expand.

National Conference in Wollongong, NSW

NSW CLCs were very proud to host the National CCLC Conference in Wollongong in September 2006. The conference has provided an invaluable opportunity to forward the work of CLC staff in their own centres through networking and skill-sharing opportunities between people from around the country. There were excellent workshops on issues
ranging from community legal education on credit and debt, to Aboriginal family violence, to human rights and disability. Numerous NSW CLCs contributed their ideas and expertise to the conference, particular thanks to Illawarra Legal Centre.

NSW Legal Assistance Forum

For the second year, I represented CLCs and was Deputy Chair of the NSW Legal Assistance Forum (NLAF). NLAF promotes collaboration and coordination in the development of legal services in NSW, specifically for disadvantaged people. The Forum includes representatives from government, private and non-government bodies that provide a range of legal services. This year, NLAF completed its review, which found that there had been increased collaboration among members particularly in addressing gaps in provision of services. NLAF also focused on a number of key areas including provision of legal service in rural regional and remote areas, overcoming conflict of interest barriers, the scope of legal services provided by Chamber magistrates, access to interpreters for legal services, and launched a new guide on legal services for Aboriginal People in NSW and the ACT.

State Office Staff

As a result of the Public Purpose Fund (PPF) funding, the State Office doubled its staff, and relocated to new premises in Ultimo. On behalf of the Board, our sincere thanks to the team at the State Office (Polly Porteous, Alison Aggarwal, Renee Williamson, Joanna Mantziaris, Jean Parker and Norico Allen) for their enthusiasm and commitment throughout the year. Thanks also to Sinead Eastman for her research on the CCLCG Employment Rights Project and to Renee Fallah,
a UTS student, for her volunteer work on researching and writing a report on law reform and policy.

This year we farewelled our long-term Finance Officer, Carol Roberts, after over 20 years of service with the community legal centres. The Board thanks and acknowledges Carol for her dedication and contributions to CLCs over the years.

Funding and Support

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the following individuals and organisations for their support of the State office during 2006/07:

  • Mr Bob Debus, the NSW Attorney-General until April 2007, for generously contributing funds for the National CLC Conference held in Wollongong, and his overall committed support for CLCs;
  • Mr John Hatzistergos, the new NSW Attorney-General, for his interest in CLCs;
  • Mr Bill Grant, CEO of Legal Aid NSW, for his support of CCLCG and his willingness to collaborate with CLCs;
  • Mr Dennis Roach, CLC Funding Program Manager, Legal Aid NSW, for his continued support of the State office and the community legal service program;
  • Mr Richard Funston and Ms Louise Blasejowska from Legal Aid NSW;
  • The Trustees and Administrator of the Public Purpose Fund for supporting two new CCLCG programs;
  • Mr Geoff Mulherin and Ms Sue Scott from the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW for their continued support for CLCs particularly the community education training program and subsidies for RRR centre staff to travel to CLC conferences;
  • Ms Julie Bishop, Director, National Association of CLCs;
  • Mr David Evans of Nash O’Neill Tomkins Lawyers for pro bono legal assistance;
  • Mr David Hillard, Ms Angela Tao and Ms Laura Duesbury of Clayton Utz for pro bono legal assistance.

Thanks to my fellow Board members for their expertise and commitment to the State Office over the past 12 months.

Finally, I would like to thank the management committees, staff and volunteers of community legal centres in NSW. Without their continued dedication and support of the CCLCG State Office, community legal centres would not be in the strong position we are in today.

Michelle Jones



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