Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan)
My adjournment matter is for the Treasurer, Tim Pallas, and the action I seek is for the government to fund a further four community legal hubs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Victoria.
In last year’s budget the government delivered $2.176 million for the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service to develop two hubs for Aboriginal communities across Victoria.
While this funding was welcomed, it will not meet the demand.
The Legal Need and the COVID-19 Crisis report by the Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria highlights the following concerns regarding the pandemic and associated legal need:
• The number of legal problems experienced by Victorians will increase.
• The proportion of Victorians who need free legal assistance to handle their legal problems will increase, as more Victorians become unable to afford private legal representation.
• The consequences of unresolved legal problems will become more severe, as people lose sources of financial and health resilience to the adverse effects of their legal issues.
Nerita Waight, the CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, is adamant the two hubs are not enough to service the legal needs of Aboriginal Victorians. In their budget submission VALS requested funding for six community legal hubs.
Nerita is the expert on this. She knows the legal issues of the Aboriginal community better than anyone else in this state.
Therefore the action I seek is for the government to support Nerita by funding a further four Aboriginal community legal hubs across Victoria in consultation with the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service.