About CLCs

Community Legal Centres (CLCs) have been a vital component of the provision of legal services in Australia for almost 40 years. There are more than 200 CLCs throughout the country and 49 in Victoria – in metropolitan, suburban, regional, rural and remote areas.

See the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria)

See the National Association of Community Legal Centres

CLCs operate within a number of key frameworks:

  • The Rule of Law – every person and organization, including the government, is subject to the law.
  • Promoting Responsibilities and Rights – like fairness, respect, equality and dignity.
  • Access to Justice – removing barriers that prevent people from understanding their responsibilities and exercising their rights.
  • Community Development – supporting local solutions to local needs.

Community Legal Centres provide access to justice. They compliment the private legal profession and Legal Aid Commissions by undertaking a range of cases that fall between the cracks. They also provide legal education to the community about responsibilities and rights and identify areas where the law can improve. They get people to first base on their legal issues and in many cases go into bat for the duration. They seek to prevent legal problems arising in the first place or to stop them escalating unnecessarily.

Most CLCs receive Commonwealth or State/Territory funding. Many also receive philanthropic funding or operate income generating projects.

So how are CLCs different from Legal Aid? Some find a rough comparison with the health sector to be helpful. Community legal centres are similar to community health services in that they are independent and community controlled, providing direct services but also emphasising community development and preventative programs (NB. Many other services form part of the legal service landscape, such as Aboriginal Legal Services and Aboriginal Family Violence and Prevention Legal Services). In contrast Legal Aid Commissions are statutory bodies that (while also conducting legal education and producing legal information resources) emphasise direct legal services both through salaried lawyers and the ‘judicare’ program where private lawyers are funded to provide legal services (like Medicare).

 

 

 

 

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