Almost two decades of free legal advice from the Riverland Community Legal Service comes to an end today with the Weatherill Labor Government’s funding cuts forcing the Berri based service to shut its doors.
The State Government made a $6 million funding reduction to community legal centres which comes into effect tomorrow and the Riverland is the hardest hit, with services to be consolidated to an office based more than three hours away.
Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone called on the Weatherill Labor Government to immediately reverse the funding cut to the Riverland Community Legal Service.
“This is a sad day for the people of the Riverland and the thousands of people this service advises and represents every year,” Mr Whetstone said.
“The Weatherill Government has continued to rip government services out of the region to the detriment of the local community.
“There is very little chance the new model based at Christies Beach will be able to adequately deal with the high number of face-to-face appointments undertaken by the Riverland Community Legal Service.
“The Law Society of SA, legal professionals and community legal centres have called on the Attorney-General to reverse these cuts, yet they have been ignored.
“Not only does the Riverland lose more local jobs through poor government decision making but it will put local people at a further disadvantage.
“This short-sighted decision to close this very important Riverland service will have far reaching consequences,” Mr Whetstone said.
The Legal Services Commission of South Australia Annual Report for 2015-16 places the Riverland in the ‘most disadvantaged’ area for these services and this decision to close the Riverland will only compact that fact.