The 9th of October saw the Law School lawn filled yet again with a swath of people crowded around a sizzling barbeque. However, it wasn’t your average LSS event. The event was organised by the LSS’ Social Justice Department to raise awareness about the federal government’s recent cuts to the ACT Women’s Legal Centre (WLC).
Two petitions were circulated at the event, one bound for the Attorney-General’s office condemning the cuts and another off to the ACT government petitioning for state government funding. Representatives from the Turner-based WLC were on hand to answer questions and talk about the cuts, which will prove devastating to the centre if their projected 2015 implementation goes ahead.
Heidi Yates, the centre director, told Woroni; ‘It’s short-sighted of the government not to consider the impact these cuts will have to the community’.
Currently, the centre is only able to offer 2.8 active solicitors, each of who do around $600,000 worth of commercial legal work on a $50,000 budget. The WLC estimates that as a result of the cuts, over 400 women will be unable to access their services, which includes legal advice on problems relating to domestic violence, child support, gender and pregnancy-based discrimination and divorce and separation.
Hopes are now pinned on securing ACT government funding, which Ms.Yates noted is a viable option given that the WLC has moved from its original family law focus to a broader range of women’s issues which fall under the state government branch. Hopefully the LSS’ petition and other community events in support of the centre will drive government action to restore much-needed funding.
To access Women’s Legal Centre services, call 02 6257 4499.
Photo courtesy of the ANU LSS Facebook group.