The Mid North Coast Community Legal Centre (MNCCLC) was established after the local community worked together, assisted by funding from the Law and Justice Foundation, to clearly demonstrate the need for a legal service to assist disadvantaged residents.
A legal needs analysis was developed that demonstrated significant evidence that disadvantaged people living on the Mid North Coast of NSW had poor access to legal support in dealing with the justice system.
The research found that the Mid North Coast region has one of the highest levels of social disadvantage in NSW, with extensive social and geographic isolation, separation from family networks and limited social and economic infrastructure.
An important part of this problem was that Mid North Coast residents did not have access to a community legal centre which focuses on the legal needs of disadvantaged groups.
On 3 December 2010, Commonwealth Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, and NSW Attorney General, John Hatzistergos, announced the Mid North Coast would soon have access to improved legal services, with a new community legal centre to open in Port Macquarie early in 2011. The successful applicant to operate the new centre was – Disability Advocacy NSW (now known as Advocacy Law Alliance) .
“The new service will play a key role in ensuring disadvantaged residents of the region have greater access to legal assistance to encourage early resolution of disputes before they escalate,” Mr McClelland said.
The new legal centre was a joint initiative of the Commonwealth and NSW Governments, funded by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and Legal Aid NSW.
Mr Hatzistergos said the funding was consistent with the findings of a February 2010 Mid-North Coast Legal Needs Analysis Report which clearly demonstrated the need for a Community Legal Centre on the Mid North Coast. “It is well known that many rural and regional centres are requiring more resources to meet the legal demands of their communities,” he said.