The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (16:53): I rise to speak on behalf of government members in relation to this motion. The Housing Legal Clinic operates under the Welfare Rights Centre (WRC) and provides pro bono legal services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Services are provided across metropolitan and regional South Australia. The WRC is a community legal service, providing free legal advice and assistance to South Australians in tenancy and social security law.
In 2017-18, the WRC was allocated funding of $172,000 to run the HLC. The service agreement for this service was due to expire on 30 June 2018. The WRC was previously funded by the Attorney-General's Department to provide statewide specialist community legal services. The WRC was not successful in a competitive procurement process for these services and, indeed, Uniting Communities was the successful tenderer, and funding to WRC for these functions ceased as at 30 June 2017.
In September 2017, the former government approved the provision of additional once-off funding of $300,000 to the WRC to deliver the expanded welfare rights service to South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) clients. This service agreement will expire on 30 September 2018.
In May 2018, the WRC submitted a proposal to the Department of Human Services requesting a total of $475,000 per annum for a minimum of two years to continue the services currently provided by the WRC. The Minister for Human Services has approved an extension of
funding to the HLC until 30 September 2018 to align with the expiry of the expanded welfare rights service agreement with the WRC. This extension will allow the new housing authority time to consider how this funding is providing a service element that is meeting a service gap/need in the community and assisting in preventing homelessness.
The housing authority will review and provide advice to the government on the future of this service and the most effective and efficient means of providing legal support to the community. It should be noted that without both the funding for the HLC and the funding for the expanded welfare rights service it is likely the WRC will cease to function.
In conclusion, I note that the funding has been extended until 30 September 2018. The government is committed to ensuring full consideration is given to how this funding can continue to provide a service element that is meeting a service gap/need in the community and assisting in preventing homelessness. As such, the government will not support this motion because it disagrees with the suggested time frames in the motion.