There was cause for celebration (and cake) on Friday July 28 when Hume Riverina Community Legal Service celebrated its 18th birthday, after Federal Attorney General Daryl Williams AM QC MP launched the service on that date in 1999.
From humble beginnings – four staff and a budget of $200,000 – the service has grown to become an accepted and key member of the legal sector, locally and nationally, with 11 legal and five admin/community development staff. The team is also about to grow further, thanks to Legal Aid NSW confirming funding for the NSW Care Partner Program, and a family law/family violence role.
While staff and budgets have changed, the commitment to providing a professional service for disadvantaged and vulnerable people and families in North East Victoria and Southern Riverina of NSW remains as strong as it was on day one. HRCLS provides family violence and family law legal assistance, as well as generalist legal services on everyday legal problems, including fines, credit and debt issues, consumer complaints and motor vehicle accidents.
Being auspiced by UMFC and with strong relationships in the community service sector, HRCLS continues to work together with other services, such as financial counselling and drug and alcohol support for clients struggling with multiple issues in their lives.
From the beginning we have been a voice for rural, regional & remote (RRR) Australia, and we continue to speak up for this sector of our community, with a particular emphasis on the complex issues of living on the border through differing laws in Victoria and NSW.
We are passionate about linking our community to the law, and our involvement in community legal education and law talks has continued to expand as our staff go out and about through our catchment of 17 local government areas, helping people to understand the law and how to access it.
Our commitment to law reform has long been a foundational pillar of our service and we continue to work for a fairer and more just society. Most recently we have been involved in the Access to Justice Review in both Victoria and NSW, the Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria and the Elder Abuse Inquiry (Vic).
We are grateful for the community support over the past 18 years and look forward to continuing to make a difference in our region by providing free legal advice to people who otherwise can’t afford a lawyer.