With their target demographic being the disadvantaged and people with special needs, Community Legal Centres (CLCs ) provide a good safety net for those needing initial legal advice services free of charge.
At a recent dinner meeting, Nowra Rotarians and guests were given an overview of the services provided at CLCs and associated outreaches by its guest speaker, Emma Wood, the Shoalcoast Community Legal Centre Co-ordinator.
The first CLC in Australia was established in 1972 in Fitzroy, Victoria.
In 1977 and the first one in NSW was established in Redfern IN 1997. In 1999, the Shoalcoast CLC was formed in Nowra, firstly as an outreach service from the Illawarra CLC, then in its own right following its accreditation in 2016.
Shoalcoast CLC provides free legal service for those eligible on the coastal area between Berry and the Victorian boarder taking in the Local Government areas of the Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla and Bega Valley. Services include information and referral, advise on legal matters, legal casework and representation in targeted areas of law, Community legal education, law reform, public policy and advocacy.
It provides outreach free legal services to men and women through many different programs including ALAP (Aboriginal Legal Access Program) and RWOP (Rural Women’s Outreach Program).
They can help with domestic abuse cases, fines and debt problems, matters in the children’s court, discrimination, among other services. They do not help with legal advice like conveyancing, wills, personal injury or business or commercial law.
In Nowra, they are located in the Holt Centre, and have 14 staff and 30 volunteers, who are known as the orange people, due to the colour of their shirts.
They receive funding from the Commonwealth Government, the NSW State Government but are also glad of any donations.
CLC solicitors give free advice over the phone every Tuesday and Thursday between 10am and 12 noon for those wishing to find out more about the free legal services provided and their eligibility to use them should contact the agency directly on 44229529 or 1800 229 539.