Illawarra Labor MPs have vowed to reinstate funding to the Illawarra Legal Centre at Warrawong.
Announced Saturday, Federal Labor is pledging $300,000 to the service over three years.
Phillip Dicalfas, the centre’s principal solicitor, has welcomed the funding, but says it will cover the cost of maintaining – not enhancing – the service.
“Basically Labor are committing to reversing the cuts that the Coalition would have put in place, that would have come into effect from July 1 next year,” he said.
“I would have been even happier if Labor or the Coalition had come up with more money, not just reversed the cuts. The Productivity Commission has recommended an increase in funding.”
The centre provides free legal advice and representation to some of the Illawarra’s most disadvantaged people.
Since it was born 30 years ago, the service has developed an offshoot tenancy service, a welfare rights service, a child support service, a children’s court assistance scheme and arms in financial counselling and community legal education. More than 7100 people accessed services last year.
“At Warrawong there’s a great deal of need,” Mr Dicalfas said. “If the cuts go ahead there would be about 150 clients who would be able to receive our service a year.
“There would be another 500 clients who might be indirectly affected, because the cuts would affect our administration staff and supervision of staff.”