The future of the Southland Community Law Centre is in question because Justice Ministry plans for the service are unclear.
Southland centre manager Denise Lormans said the ministry had yet to say whether Southland would see its service cut, but she and her staff were concerned for the future.
The centres are contracted by the Government to provide their services. The current contracts end on June 30 next year.
The ministry has said it would cut the number of CLC providers from 26 to between 10 and 15 when it invited tenders to do the work after June 30, Ms Lormans said.
The Invercargill-based centre received $400,000 in funding last year, providing 6000 hours of legal consultation, she said.
It also provided legal education for community organisations, employers and employees across the province.
"We are definitely concerned there may be no services funded in Southland," Ms Lormans said. "What they are planning to do certainly has implications for rural areas."
Any funding provided could be so inadequate the centre would not be able to help people who needed access to justice, she said.
"We do see an awful lot of people here . . . if you cut that down to half where will the others go?"
She said the centre was not afraid of tendering for the contract against other providers.
Community Law Centres Aotearoa chief executive Liz Tennet said the Government wanted to introduce competition into the not-for-profit sector, which would cause restructuring of the service.
Justice Ministry director of provider and community services Alison Hill said no decision had been made about the future of Government funding for CLCs.
She said services would continue in Southland and that no final decision had been made on how funding would be allocated.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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