'Tweed legal services facing massive shortfalls'
SHADOW Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says community legal services in Murwillumbah and Tweed are under threat and unable to meet the needs of residents due to continued budget cuts by the Federal Government.
During a visit to Tweed Heads earlier this morning, Mr Dreyfus said he would be sitting down with representatives from the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre, which is based in Lismore but has outreach services in Murwillumbah and Tweed, to discuss their concerns.
Mr Dreyfus said he visited the Murwillumbah centre in March last year when the service was facing a "30 per cent cut from the Federal Government”.
"When I sat down with them last year they told me those cuts would have been crippling for the service that they provide to the local community,” he said.
"Happily, we were able to fight that and have those cuts reversed in the budget last year.”
But Mr Dreyfus said increased demand from the community had left the Murwillumbah and Tweed services "facing massive shortfalls”.
"They are still facing massive shortfalls in what is required for them to meet a very high level of unmet legal needs that community legal centres should be able to provide,” he said.
"We still see from the Federal Government a complete lack of preparedness to provide what is appropriate funding for assisted legal services.”
Mr Dreyfus also visited Lismore in 2016 during a plea to have funding cuts to programs aimed at preventing domestic violence reversed.
The call for more funding comes not long after State Labor Candidate for Lismore Janelle Saffin demanded front-line services at the Murwillumbah Court House be restored after jobs were slashed and the court went from four sitting days and two hearing days per month, to just one hearing day per month.
Two registrars were also replaced by one part-time registrar.
At the time, Ms Saffin said she would be "advocating this matter to the Shadow Attorney General” in a bid to have the services restored and avoid the court potentially being closed.
However, a NSW Justice spokesperson said there were "no plans” for the court to close in the near future.