FEDERAL FUNDING CUTS WILL IMPACT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS IN NORTH QUEENSLAND

Date:  30 March 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FEDERAL FUNDING CUTS WILL IMPACT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS IN NORTH QUEENSLAND

The North Queensland Women’s Legal Service (NQWLS) will receive $2.4 million in combined federal and state funding over the next three years to operate its offices in both Townsville and Cairns, but there is still a shortfall.

NQWLS Director, Anne Lewis, said “We appreciate the State government’s effort to ‘plug the gaping hole’ left by the significant cuts to our Commonwealth funding over the next three years.  The Queensland government knows that women and children experiencing domestic violence and family breakdown need the vital frontline services that NQWLS provides”.

Ms Lewis continued “The truth is, the funding provided leaves us way short to even maintain existing levels of service for women in crisis, never mind the fact that the number of women coming forward seeking help is constantly increasing”.

“We have a shortfall in funding of $400,000 per year to meet the costs of running two offices in Townsville and Cairns.  It means a loss of up to 2,000 free legal services each year.”
NQWLS provides a free Legal Advice Line – on 1800 244 504 – from Monday to Thursday, between 9am till 1pm for women living in rural, regional and remote communities anywhere north from Sarina – essentially the top half of Queensland.  Sadly, for every call NQWLS responds to, another 7 calls go unanswered due to lack of resources.  The funding cuts will deepen this crisis and reduce access to legal help for North Queensland women, some whose lives may be in danger as a consequence.  Last year, 71 women were killed in Australia because of domestic or family violence.  One quarter of them were Queenslanders.

It does not make sense to cut access to vital frontline legal services for women experiencing violence.

We are asking the Commonwealth government to meet the shortfall and reverse these funding cuts before 1 July.

NQWLS wants the public to contact their Federal MPs and the Queensland Senators and ask them to let the Prime Minister know that funding cuts planned for community legal centres must be stopped.  The public can also help by signing the community petition at http://www.fairagenda.org/clc_cuts and share it on social media, using the hashtag #fundequaljustice to spread the word.

(ENDS)

Media Contact:                Anne Lewis, NQWLS Director, phone 4772 5400 or 0422 014 430.

Email:  director@nqwls.com.au

 

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