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Vic Gov denies pulling funding plug on International Student Legal Advice Clinic

Sumisha Naidu

Wed Oct 12 2011


THE Victorian Government denies claims it has pulled the funding plug on the International Student Legal Advice Clinic (ISLAC).

This morning, The Agereported that ISLAC will be holding its last free clinic for international student services due to funding cuts from the Victorian Coalition government.

But a government spokesperson has told Meld Magazine this was not the case.

“ISLAC was provided with only 12 months funding on a pilot basis by the previous government,” he said.

“Now that the pilot has been completed, decisions about ongoing funding for the service need to be made by Victoria Legal Aid, which operates independently of government and is well placed to decide how legal services for international students can best be provided.

“The Government understands that VLA will provide funding and support for ISLAC to be able to continue in operation until at least the end of the current financial year,” the spokesman said.

Victoria Legal Aid’s Director of Civil Justice, Kristen Hilton, said discussions about how to support ISLAC have been ongoing for months.

“We’ve been in discussions with the clinic itself, and also the Department of Justice and the Multicultural Affairs Commission, working out what the ongoing needs of the service were and what types of support they need and those discussions have been going on for the last couple of months,” she said.

“We’re really pleased that we’re now in a position to be able to guarantee support for their centre until the next financial year.”

But clinic coordinator Harley Dannatt said this was the first he had heard of this.

“This is a development. Prior to today, Legal Aid said, ‘We have no money that we can give you’,” he said.

“As of today, they’ve said, ‘We want to talk about what we can do’.

“We want ISLAC to stay open but we don’t know what that looks like…we have no idea at this stage.”

Mr Dannatt said they would have a better idea of their future when they meet with Victoria Legal Aid tomorrow.