It is with great pleasure that I introduce the Strategic Plan of Community Legal Centres NSW Incorporated for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2018.
This plan has been developed by CLCNSW in consultation with its members, staff and Board. CLCNSW also consulted with Legal Aid NSW about the key funding and sustainability issues for the CLC sector in the immediate future.
As a result of these extensive consultations, this plan represents a clear direction for CLCNSW for the next three years. In particular, it incorporates ideas and suggestions from our member CLCs on what they want to see CLCNSW working on in the coming three years. There is no doubt in our minds that the next few years will present significant challenges for the CLC sector. We are facing diminishing funding from government along with policy changes. We are also seeing marked differences in the way people access and use information and services, such as through technology, including social media. These, and other challenges, represent a call to action for our sector to respond and change to ensure that we continue to deliver what our communities need if they are to have true access to justice.
The plan outlines five priority areas that CLCNSW will focus on. First, we will increase awareness of, and respond in strategic ways to, access to justice issues. We will do this by collaborating with CLCs and our other stakeholders to work on such issues, including utilising research into unmet legal needs. Second, we will advocate for law reform that delivers social justice for CLC clients. Activities will include engaging in sector-identified law reform activities, which will include undertaking campaigns and responding to issues of significant injustice for communities of most need. This work will have a particular focus on meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Third, we will promote the value of CLCs as unique and valuable contributors to the justice system. Staff and board members will, for example, use social media to promote the role of CLCs, as well as attend events, such as law student future careers days to promote working in CLCs as an exciting career option. Fourth, we will work with CLCs in NSW to build their organisational capacity to deliver services. This means we will undertake activities such as providing professional development opportunities and projects to increase the capacity of staff and volunteers. We will also continue supporting CLCs to provide best practice legal services through the National Accreditation Scheme. And finally, we will put aim to ensure CLCNSW itself is a strong peak body for its members into the future. This will involve activities such as seeking alternative sources of funding and ensuring we have the best staffing structure in place to carry out all the objectives of this plan.
Our commitment to improving access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is demonstrated through the implementation in 2014/15 of our Reconciliation Action Plan. The Plan acknowledges the importance of developing strong effective relationships with Aboriginal people to inform the services delivered by CLCs. We are pleased to see some strong initiatives already being produced as a result of this Plan and we remain committed to building on these initiatives.
As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the CLC movement in NSW in 2015, it is important that we reflect on our history. CLCs in NSW have a strong and proud history of collaboration and cooperation. They also have an outstanding record of creating and delivering innovative legal services to the community, particularly those who are most marginalised and do not have the mechanism to voice their issues. This Strategic Plan outlines how CLCNSW will continue to support the collaboration, cooperation and innovation of our member CLCs.
I thank our members, Board, staff and stakeholders of CLCNSW for their valuable contributions to this plan. I look forward to working with you all to implement this plan, as we strive to make our vision of a fair and inclusive community a reality.
I commend this document to you.