Page updated June 4, 2020

ECLC welcomes frontline funding

June 4, 2020

Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) welcomes recent Federal and State Government funding announcements to support frontline free legal services needed by priority communities as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

On 6 May 2020, the Australian Government announced funding of $63.3 million.

This was followed a few days later by a State Government announcement of $17.5 million for frontline free legal services. This funding will also support legal services to upgrade technology so that more Victorians receive the help they need to work remotely and digitally.

Money is expected to flow directly to Victoria Legal Aid and every Community Legal Centre and Aboriginal legal service in the state – supporting priority Victorians with a range of issues including family violence related matters, employment rights, debt and consumer credit, and tenancy and housing matters.

While the number of clients ECLC has helped during the Coronavirus lockdown has remained steady, the issues people are facing have changed and the number of calls to ECLC has begun to increase. Some issues have also become more complex as vulnerable people staying and/or working at home during the lockdown do so under quite difficult and often unsafe conditions.

ECLC CEO Michael Smith said that while Coronavirus restrictions have eased, the pandemic has evolved into a multi-layered emergency.

“We are now seeing a health, economic, and social crisis,” he said.

The huge number of community members that have unexpectedly become unemployed has placed significant pressure on individuals, families, and government systems.

As a result, ECLC is starting to see more clients who need legal help with their tenancy, social security, debt, finances, and other issues.

While ECLC expects family violence, family law and elder abuse issues to rise considerably, the increases it has seen so far have been predominantly in family law and access to children issues.

However, ECLC is concerned that while family violence may increase, the ability for people to seek help – with family members in the home – is now much more difficult.

“ECLC looks forward to the release of further details outlining how the proposed government funding measures will be implemented,” said Michael.

In the meantime, ECLC’s multidisciplinary legal team are ready to help priority groups by phone with legal problems.

Call (03) 9285 4822 or email ECLC to make an appointment.

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