Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 08, 2023


Riverland Community Legal Services Program

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (14:45): My question is to the Attorney-General. Will he inform the council about the additional funds that were provided for legal services as part of the support for residents affected by flooding in the Riverland region?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:45): I thank the honourable member for his question and note the very keen interest the honourable member has had in areas of the Riverland and the very close association he has had with the Riverland over many years.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: I can't hear the Attorney.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I fondly remember times at community functions, events and at pubs in the Riverland with the Hon. Russell Wortley, who travels extensively throughout the state—probably not as much as did our former colleague the Hon. David Ridgway (nor has he had as many lunches), but still quite extensively throughout South Australia.

South Australia is lucky to have some truly fantastic community legal services available for South Australians in need of legal assistance, often during some of the most difficult periods in their lives. Community Legal Centres (SA) provides membership to many of those services, including the Women's Legal Service, JusticeNet SA, Uniting Communities Law Centre, Community Justice Services SA, Northern Community Services, Working Women's Centre and the Family Violence Legal Service Aboriginal Corporation, to name a few.

Across these services and more that sit within the membership of Community Legal Centres (SA), over 15,000 people access free legal advice each year at centres located across both metropolitan and rural South Australia. On top of the significant legal advice work, Community Legal Centres (SA) has now also produced and distributed legal information brochures and flyers, which detail specific legal advice and services that are available in 20 different languages.

Over 4,000 of these flyers have been distributed directly to people and households at risk, or who have been impacted by floods. The information on these brochures has been kept clear and simple, including an outline of what important documents are in the case of having to leave one's home in an emergency situation, such as a flood.

Information on the flier also detailed key flood-related insurance information, with insurance assessment tips and frequently asked insurance questions. Many of these information flyers were distributed in the presence of Community Legal Centre (SA) staff and volunteers at the various emergency response centres that were established for flood-affected communities in the Riverland region.

This legal service representation to emergency response centres was also made up of membership of groups, such as Uniting Communities, Community Justice Services and Women's Legal Service SA, to provide much-needed information and support, often when people haven't even had a chance to begin to think about the legal implications of the floods, given the nature of evacuations that needed to occur and other matters of trying to protect property and lives.

I was also pleased to learn at a recent meeting with Community Legal Centres (SA) that they have recently been awarded a $90,000 grant from SAFECOM to develop video resources to be used on social media and education activities for natural disaster preparation and response, which again is available in many different languages. The grant will also provide for the centre to manufacture additional grab-and-go bags, which were initially designed and created for South Australia's bushfire season, providing a heat and waterproof satchel that is labelled 'Important documents', should someone need to leave their home at very quick notice.

This initiative from the centre received some very positive feedback as a safe, simple and effective way for people clearly to store their essential documents. I want to congratulate all those and pay tribute to those who have provided many, many hours in their own time to provide legal services and legal assistance to their fellow South Australians.