Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 07, 2024


Riverland Community Justice Centre

The Hon. R.B. MARTIN (15:10): My question is to the Attorney-General. Will the minister please inform the council about his recent visit to the Riverland Community Justice Centre?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:10): Certainly. I thank the honourable member for his question. As I mentioned yesterday, I was able to visit various locations in the Riverland, particularly meeting with Aboriginal organisations and members of the Aboriginal community in the Riverland, but it was an opportunity to meet with other areas that touch on my portfolios.

When cabinet visited the Riverland area immediately before the peaks of the flood at the end of 2022, I was able to visit, as I have a number of times, with people at the Riverland Community Justice Centre in Berri. At the time I last met, at the end of 2022, there was a dire need for legal advice for concerned home owners who were facing potential losses, including in some cases their home and possessions, as well as dealing with other unexpected matters that related to the impending natural disaster, particularly things that I did not think of at the time, such as Family Court matters and child custody arrangements: how you deal with things like shared custody when you are literally cut off by virtue of not being able to get across a river as easily as you have in the past.

The Riverland Community Justice Centre has worked tirelessly throughout this time to assist the community, and I was very pleased that we were able to provide further funding over and above what has been provided in the past for the legal matters that have arisen, to assist people in the flood-affected areas. I know that both the South Australian and the commonwealth governments have provided funding to the community legal centre in the Riverland.

In meeting with the people of the Riverland Community Justice Centre, I was pleased to hear about the experience during the last year—although it was challenging—of how flood-related matters had been dealt with and had progressed at that time. It is always pleasing also to hear from legal practitioners what they love about their work, particularly in regional areas in South Australia, and the challenges that are faced in the legal profession by people who are practising in regional areas.

Services like the Riverland Community Justice Centre are invaluable. They play an important part in the community's foundation. I particularly thank Georgia, as the solicitor, and the team from the Riverland Community Justice Centre for their ongoing service to the community. I look forward to seeing this important resource for the community thriving.