Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre started as a project of the Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre in 1985 with one volunteer worker. Funding was later obtained to employ a part-time co-ordinator and solicitor and the Centre was incorporated as the Blue Mountains Community Legal Centre in 1986.
Since then Centre has grown substantially. On 12 March 2006 it changed its name from the Blue Mountains Community Legal Centre to Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre (EECLC) to reflect its expansion into the Central Tablelands region west of the Blue Mountains. The new name acknowledged the significant contribution of Elizabeth Evatt to the justice sector as a judge, law reformer, academic and international human rights advocate.
EECLC now employs a number of full and part time staff across all program areas, including solicitors, tenant advocates, operations officer and a volunteer coordinator.
The Centre also depends on its active team of volunteers and supervised student placements drawn from various disciplines including law, social work and community welfare. Today, EECLC is an independent community organisation that provides free legal and advocacy services to its local communities. It covers an extensive catchment area that includes the Blue Mountains, Lithgow, Oberon and Bathurst. EECLC is the only free legal service in this region, with the nearest Legal Aid offices located in Penrith and Orange.
EECLC’s primary function is to improve access to the justice system. EECLC gives priority assistance to the most vulnerable people in our community.
EECLC aims to provide practical assistance with legal problems particularly in the areas of:
• family law and domestic violence
• credit and debt
• age and disability
EECLC can assist clients in navigating the complexities of the legal system. The service also provides clients with referrals to other services where appropriate.
EECLC’s funding comes from the State and Commonwealth Attorney-General's Departments and is administered by Legal Aid NSW through the Community Legal Centres Legal Services Funding Program.
In addition to its core legal services, EECLC auspices the Cooperative Legal Services Delivery Program (Central Tablelands) funded by Legal Aid NSW.
The Blue Mountains Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service is funded by the NSW Office of Fair Trading.
EECLC also acknowledges the generous support of Blue Mountains City Council, which provides us with rent free premises.
Current programs and projects of the EECLC include:
- Free legal advice service
- Duty Legal Advice at Apprehended Violence Order list days in conjunction with the Women's Domestic Violence Advocacy Service
- Task assistance and representation services (including Victims Compensation)
- Blue Mountains Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service (including Duty Advocacy to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal)
- Community Legal Education
- Regional Coordinator for the Cooperative Legal Service Delivery Program (Central Tablelands)
- Law and policy reform work in key practice areas (eg. family law) or on issues of local or sector wide concern.