Highlights and movements in the sector
We have seen yet another busy year for CLCs around NSW and the State Office.
New Community Legal Centre on the Mid North Coast of NSW
In April we welcomed our newest CLC member – the Mid North Coast CLC. Based in Port Macquarie and serving the Macquarie- Hastings, Greater Taree and Kempsey local government areas, MNCCLC started seeing clients in June. We extend a warm welcome to them and look forward to having them contribute to the growing vibrancy of the CLC sector in NSW.
Equal remuneration for the CLC sector
We have continued to lobby hard and strenuously for equal pay for our sector. This has been a significant issue for community organisations and one that has been growing in momentum with the ASU’s Equal Pay Case, currently before Fair Work Australia. This is one of the most important cases for the rights of women to equal pay in over 20 years. CLCNSW has provided its support to the ASU campaign, including joining the ACOSS Fair Pay campaign and supporting the ASU rallies in December.
CLCNSW also updated the NACLC 2006 report on CLC remuneration which demonstrated that CLC salaries are significantly lower than those in comparable jobs elsewhere. In conjunction with NACLC and other state associations around Australia, we worked with Mercer Human Resources Consulting to develop sound evidence that salaries in the CLC sector remain well under par in comparison to similar roles elsewhere, including roles in other public legal service providers. The 2011 Mercer report has been used extensively in submissions and other lobbying efforts for the equal pay campaign.
CLC/Legal Aid NSW Partnership Program
This year, Legal Aid NSW announced the formation of the CLC/ Legal Aid NSW Partnership Program, a funding program for one-off projects which are undertaken in genuine partnership between at least one CLC and Legal Aid NSW. A total of $100,000 is made available every financial year for innovative and responsive projects conducted in genuine partnership, and which aim to provide access to justice for disadvantaged people in NSW.
CLCNSW congratulates those CLCs that have been successful in securing funding under this program to date and encourages all member CLCs to consider applications for future funding rounds. We also look forward to building more positive collaborations with units within Legal Aid NSW working on the funded programs.
New government elected in NSW
In March 2011 we saw a Coalition government elected by NSW voters. In the months leading up to the election, CLCNSW undertook a number of initiatives to raise CLC issues with Members of Parliament and other government stakeholders. In November 2010, we hosted a forum for MPs and staffers at NSW Parliament House, which aimed to raise awareness of the work of CLCs. The forum was attended by the then Attorney General, the Hon. John Hatzistergos, the then Shadow Attorney General Mr Greg Smith, Greens spokesperson on legal issues, David Shoebridge MLC, and a number of other MPs. Presenters from CLCNSW spoke about funding, law reform and RRR issues.
CLCNSW also distributed to all political parties its 2011/12 budget submission, which had a particular focus on the 2011 state election. In that submission, CLCNSW called for State funding of $8.5 million. This includes existing maintenance funding, minimum baseline funding for all CLCs and enhanced funding for the provision of specialist services such as consumer law, prisoners and care and protection.
Since the formation of the new government, CLCNSW has met with the Attorney General, Greg Smith SC MP, and the Shadow Attorney General, Paul Lynch MP. We look forward to working with Mr Smith, Mr Lynch and other Government stakeholders to ensure that issues affecting disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals and communities are taken into account when changes to laws and polices are being considered.
The National Accreditation Scheme
CLCNSW has been working hard with NACLC on the implementation of the National Accreditation Scheme, one of the most signi cant projects NACLC has undertaken in recent years. The Scheme
is driven by NACLC’s desire to demonstrate to the Australian community that member CLCs deliver services of the highest quality and in accordance with best practice.
CLCNSW is committed to assisting member CLCs achieve accreditation under the scheme. To that end, a new position of Regional Accreditation Coordinator, funded by both Legal Aid NSW and the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department, has been created at the State Office. The primary role of this position will be to assess individual CLCs’ service delivery against standards under the Scheme and to identify, if necessary, areas of improvement to enhance such service delivery. More details on accreditation can be found elsewhere in this annual report.
It has been yet another busy year for the state office. Detailed reports and highlights for the State Office and its committees and networks are found elsewhere in this report.
I thank staff for their efforts supporting, coordinating and leading the sector through their work for CLCNSW. I particularly thank the Director, Alastair McEwin, for his leadership of the organisation.
In looking ahead to 2011/12, it promises to be another busy and challenging year. Activities will include participating in the review of NSW legal services, an evaluation of the Sector Development Program, and nalising the new CLCNSW strategic plan for 2012–2015.
Funding and support
On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the following individuals and organisations for their support during 2010/11:
The Hon. John Hatzistergos, former NSW Attorney-General, for his interest in and support of CLCs;
The Hon. Greg Smith SC MP, NSW Attorney-General, for his interest in and support of CLCs;
The Hon. Robert McClelland, Federal Attorney-General, for his support for the CLC program;
Mr Laurie Glan eld, Director General, Department of Attorney General and Justice, for his support for the CLC program;
Alan Kirkland, CEO of Legal Aid NSW, for his support of CLCNSW and his willingness to collaborate with CLCs;
Bronwyn McCutcheon, CLC Funding Program Manager, Legal Aid NSW, and her team of Timika Williams and Jane Cipants, for their support of the State of ce and the community legal service program;
Michelle Jones, Program Manager, Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Scheme;
The Trustees and Administrator of the NSW Public Purpose Fund;
Geoff Mulherin and Jane Kenny from the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW; and
Julia Hall, Executive Director of the National Association of CLCs
My thanks also to my fellow Board members for their expertise and commitment to the State Office over the past 12 months. I would like to particularly thank and acknowledge the work of the convenors and co-convenors of the CLCNSW networks. Without your commitment and dedication, the sector would not be as informed and united as it is on the various issues that we work on.
Finally, I would like to thank the management committees, staff and volunteers of community legal centres in NSW.