A Werribee community legal centre is calling on the federal government to reverse funding cuts that will rip almost $35 million out of the system by next year.
Denis Nelthorpe, chief executive of WEstJustice, has joined the National Association of Community Legal Centres to call for more funding to support young people in legal trouble.
The association is also requesting the government follow the Productivity Commission’s recommendation of an immediate injection of an extra $200 million per year to youth support.
“[These cuts] will severely limit the centre’s capacity to support our young people,” Mr Nelthorpe said.
“People might remember that this is the same government that, despite the staggering domestic violence numbers, refused to fund the trial of a lawyer at the emergency department at Werribee Mercy Hospital and the WEstJustice Centre.
“Despite a plan already in place for this initiative, the funds went elsewhere.”
Federal Lalor MP Joanne Ryan backed Mr Nelthorpe’s call for funding certainty.
“Any further cuts will hurt our community,” she said. “This has been going on since the 2014 budget.
“The most vulnerable are having their support ripped away from them.
“Given the high rate of youth homelessness within our community, and the high level of interactions between young people and the justice system, this is a particularly cruel but unsurprising ‘save’ by this government.”