Community Legal Aid for Child Abuse Royal Commission
3 April 2013 at 9:46 am
The Federal Government is to fund community legal centres to assist those wanting to tell their stories to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Assault which begins in Melbourne today.
Funding is to be provided through the Royal Commission’s Legal Advisory Service.
The National Association of Community Legal Centres Inc (NACLC) has welcomed the funding
saying specialist support for all victim and survivors is critical.
“People need a strong and skilled legal advice service independent of the Royal Commission’s own legal team, in order to feel safe to tell their stories,” NACLC Board Chair, Michael Smith, said.
The NACLC says it had strongly advocated to the Federal Government to ensure that victims have access to a holistic advisory and support service resourced by highly experienced and skilled lawyers, counsellors and support workers.
“Expertise in assisting victims of sexual assault and people who have experienced trauma is vital,” Smith said.
NACLC says it specifically argued the importance of including specialist staff trained and experienced in providing services to key groups with special needs such as children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
“While it had not been our intention to be directly involved, NACLC is honoured that the Australian Government approached NACLC, asking us to assume the key role in establishing a national legal advice service to support victims,” Smith said.
NACLC says it has informed the Attorney-General’s Department that it will be consulting immediately with Community Legal Centres including the Pro Bono Legal Clearing Houses, State and Territory Legal Aid Commissions, the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and the private profession in order to identify and draw together the best possible national team of suitable staff.
The Legal Advisory Service will have a main office in Sydney and staff in different regions to meet victims’ needs and reflect the timing of the Commission’s own inquiry processes.