Community legal centres

Community legal centres

Community legal centres (CLCs) are independent community organisations that provide free advice, casework and legal education to their communities. These centres are an integral part of the justice sector.

Some are generalist centres that assist people with issues such as credit and debt, family law, family violence, victims of crime compensation and neighbourhood disputes, while others specialise in particular areas of law, such as tenancy, consumer, employment, human rights, elder abuse, environmental and immigration law.

Via the Community Legal Services Program (CLSP), we grant and administer funding to 43 centres, Djirra, the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and the Federation of Community Legal Centres. In 2020–21, we administered approximately $57m to these centres. This funding includes baseline funding and special purpose funding attached to specific service delivery.

Community Legal Services Program

CLSP supports CLCs to provide legal assistance and associated activities – increasing access to justice in Victoria. The CLSP does this by administering funding (grants) to CLCs on behalf of the Commonwealth and State Governments as well as Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) funded grants.

As part of the CLSP Reform Project, VLA introduced a new simplified funding agreement (the ‘Service Agreement’) and associated documents from 1 July 2020, to align with the National Legal Assistance Partnership, to:

  • increase the transparency through which CLSP grants are made and administered by documenting the funding principles which VLA uses to make CLSP funding decision
  • clarifying the minimum eligibility requirements for organisations in receipt of CLSP funds, and
  • outlining the standard process for making new CLSP grants.

For organisations receiving funding via CLSP from 1 July 2020, the CLSP policies are set out in the Victorian CLSP Funding Guidance (docx, 553.2 KB). The funding guidance also refers to the current CLSP budget and funds report template (xlsx, 107.32 KB) and CLSP plan template (docx, 407.29 KB).

If you have any questions about these documents or require an accessible version, please contact our CLC Funding and Development Program at clcfd@vla.vic.gov.au

Community Legal Services Program (CLSP) Reform Project

In 2017, we initiated a review of the CLSP to ensure it aligned with current expectations regarding the planning and delivery of legal services and accountability for expenditure of public money. (Phase one of the CLSP Reform Project).

In Phase two of the CLSP Reform Project, we consulted with the sector and based on the sector’s feedback, developed and introduced a new service agreement and supporting guidance documents, which embedded funding principles from 1 July 2020.

The reform project is an ambitious program of change. We acknowledge that it will take time for changes to be fully integrated into work practices. In Phase three we are allowing two years (2020–21 and 2021–22) for Victoria Legal Aid's CLC Funding and Development Program to support centres to adapt to new processes and to meet the new requirements. As part of Phase three, we are increasingly focusing on how we can support the professional development of the sector through capacity building activities.

Read more about the CLSP Reform Project.

More information

For more information about CLSP, email clcfd@vla.vic.gov.au.

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