Posted on 12. Oct, 2011 in News

A legal clinic that provides support to international students will be forced to shut by the end of October following a decision by the Baillieu Government to stop funding the service, Shadow Attorney General Martin Pakula said today.

Last year, the former Labor Government provided $220,000 for a 12-month pilot for the International Student Legal Advice Clinic(ISLAC).

The Western Suburbs Legal Service runs the clinic at three locations – Newport, Melbourne and Box Hill.

Mr Pakula said that despite the pilot’s success, the Baillieu Government had refused to continue funding for the clinic.

“Settling into a new country and studying can be daunting and it’s important that international students have the legal support they need,” Mr Pakula said.

“Between 200 and 250 international students have used the service, and it has provided support on a range of issues such as migration, education services, and dispute procedures.

“The pilot has been enormously popular and is valued by international students.

“The program’s success makes it all the more astounding that the Baillieu Government is refusing to continue funding the service.”

The Baillieu Government has told the Western Suburbs Legal Service that it should seek funding for the clinic through Victorian Legal Aid.

“Unfortunately, Victorian Legal Aid doesn’t have spare funds for the service, and that means the clinic for international students will shut its doors at the end of October,” Mr Pakula said.

“Understandably, this is causing great concern within the international student community.”

The National Union of Students, the Council of International Students Australia, the Law Institute of Victoria and ISANA International Education Association have written to Mr Pakula outlining their concerns.

“I’d urge the Attorney General Robert Clark and the Premier to renew funding for the clinic before it is forced to close its doors in just three weeks time,” he said.



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