Media Release – WLST victim of shortfall of federal funds

Women’s Legal Service Tasmania will lose just under $120,000 in funds from 1 July 2020 if the National Partnership Agreement shortfall is not addressed by the Commonwealth Government, the CEO Ms Cehtel said today.

In total, Tasmania has lost out on just under $1.3 million from the National Partnership Agreement.  This money assists the most vulnerable members of the community access justice. Until next financial year, the State Government had stepped in to maintain services at current levels.

“Women’s Legal Service Tasmania is thankful to the Treasurer, Peter Gutwein and Attorney General Elise Archer who have so far plugged the gap, however the State Budget recently released by the Liberal State Government has not provided for ongoing funding to meet this Commonwealth funding shortfall beyond the 2019-2020 financial year.” Ms Cehtel said.

“This means that we will lose the ability to help women with casework and telephone advice and will reduce the number of community legal education sessions we can provide throughout Tasmania.”

Women’s Legal Service Tasmania provides a wrap-around service to women who would otherwise be unable to access the legal system. Much of that work is for women who have experienced family violence and have limited funds to engage private lawyers.

Ms Cehtel said: “Tasmanians can ill afford to have their access to lawyers further eroded. Access to justice is a right that needs to be preserved for all, not just those that can afford it.”

Ms Cehtel has today contacted the Federal Member for Bass, Bridget Archer to discuss the funding shortfall and to ask Ms Archer to advocate for Tasmanian women to ensure that they do not lose access to services allowing them to exercise their legal rights.