Overview of Community Legal Centres (CLC)

Overview of Community Legal Centres (CLC)

Community Legal Centres (CLC's) are independent non-profit organisations which establish their goals and priorities in response to the legal and related needs of the communities they serve.

Community Legal Centres primarily target their services to people who are ineligible for legal aid and who are unable to afford the services of a private solicitor. The services offered through Community Legal Centres complement the range of services provided by Legal Aid Commissions. Centres and their state associations are dedicated to working closely with commissions and their staff. Centres are frequently the first contact point of clients later referred to Legal Aid Commissions.

Centres aim to provide services to people who are Centrelink recipients, those on low incomes, or who have difficulty in accessing legal services, including people with disabilities, women, young people, Aboriginal people and people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds.

Direct legal assistance was provided to about 275,000 clients nationally in the 2004-2005 year. The areas of law that clients were assisted with will vary from centre to centre depending on the needs of the community. Nationally the percentages of clients assisted in the different areas of law were Civil 64%, Family, 29% and Criminal 7%. The problems assisted with included

  • tenancy
  • child contact and residency
  • immigration
  • injuries
  • credit and debt
  • Government pensions/benefits
  • property in marriage
  • employment
  • divorce and separation
  • family domestic violence
  • consumer complaints

Of the 275,000 clients seen nationally

  • 62% were women
  • 72.4% were between 18-49 years
  • 82.5% had a low income
  • 62% were sole parents of families with dependent children
  • 4% had a low proficiency in English
  • 4% identified as indigenous
  • 8% were living with a disability

There are three main types of Community Legal Centres

  1. Generalist CLC'S - Generalists Centres operate across a broad range of legal areas to particular geographic community.
  2. Specialist Community CLC'S - Specialist Centres provide services to a particular community such as women, people with disabilities, children and young people, people with HIV/AIDS, and the aged
  3. Specialist law CLC'S Specialist Law Centres provide services in particular areas of law such as tenancy, consumer credit, environmental law, disability discrimination, welfare rights and immigration law.

Many generalist centres incorporate specialist programs and projects into their centres.

Community Legal Centres adopt a multi-disciplinary, holistic approach to the clients, whose needs may or may not be primarily legal. Many CLC'S employ social workers, tenancy workers, domestic violence workers and community legal educators in offering a broad range of preventative legal services, such as community legal education and the development and provision of information. For example, many CLC'S train community and social workers in other government and community agencies in legal issues which are pertinent to their clients. CLC'S produce a wide range of community legal education materials such a books leaflets, information and teaching kits, and audio and video programs They have proved over time to be prolific publishers of plain English information about the law; sometimes independently, sometimes in conjunction with commercial publishers including the major publishing houses.

For further information on Community Legal Centres contact National Association of Community Legal Centres
PO Box A2245, SYDNEY NORTH, NSW 1235
Tel: 02 9264 9595
Fax: 02 9264 9594
Email: naclc@flc.fl.asn.au
Website: www.naclc.org.au


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