GRANT District Council Mayor Richard Sage said he will continue to do his part in ensuring the people of the region are receiving the legal assistance required following the devastating closure of the South East Community Legal Service last month.
Speaking with Attorney General John Rau in what was described as a “fruitful” meeting recently, Mr Sage said he stressed the level of disadvantage experienced in the region and the need for immediate legal advice.
“Mr Rau was very frank and forthright and willing to listen to concerns and improvements that were put forward,” he said.
“He realises that a call centre where cases are redirected to the necessary person, isn’t as good as having regular face-to-face meetings.”
Alongside representatives from Berri Barmera Council – whose towns were also impacted by the loss of a community legal service – Mr Sage said he will stay in regular contact with Mr Rau, providing updates on how legal matters are being handled in the region.
“We will be involved with an ongoing review of the level of services which includes quarterly service reviews, assessment of resources required and disclosure of service statistics,” he said.
“In three months time we will meet with Mr Rau again, as well as those who are providing the service to discuss these matters.
“While we are there, we will go into the call centre in Adelaide to see how things are run.”
Since his meeting with Mr Rau, Mr Sage said he has spoken to management at the Mount Gambier Prison to see how inmates are finding the new process.
“They are happy with the changes and will keep in contact about how things are going,” he said.
“They have also utilised video conferencing with lawyers to seek legal advice.
“This is something that will be looked into further for other areas across the region, so people can simply go to a counsellor and speak to someone via video link.”
Seeing more positives than negatives in the new process provided by The Southern Community Justice Centre, Mr Sage said people in towns outside Mount Gambier will also have access to regular legal assistance.
“Places such as Kingston that have never before had a service available in the town will soon have the opportunity to have face to face meetings with a lawyer once a month,” he said.
“This is great for people in those towns who previously didn’t have access to face to face legal advice.
“Overall, the move has been very positive and there are more opportunities for the Grant District Council to be involved with the process and any changes that will be made.”