Cuts to legal sector must be stopped
I move that the Senate:
1. notes the effects of Commonwealth funding uncertainty on the legal assistance sector, including the possible closure of community legal centres, staff loss, a reduction in services to clients and declining staff morale;
2. acknowledges that, unless this uncertainty is addressed and funding restored, critical services directed at family violence, child protection, disability and mental health and services to regional, remote and Aboriginal land Torres Strait Islander communities may be irrevocably compromised;
3. accepts the findings of the Productivity Commission's 2014 report on Access to Justice, which recommended an additional $200 million in Commonwealth, State and Territory funding be provided for civil legal assistance services to address urgent need; and
4. calls on the Federal Government to immediately address the funding uncertainty and include increased funding for the legal assistance sector in the 2015/16 Federal Budget.