Why we chose not to accept an offer of federal funding

Staying bold, fearless and independent

In early 2023, Environmental Justice Australia decided not to accept an offer of federal government funding – because our independence and ability to be bold and fearless is too important.

We were curious and even a little bit excited when at the last federal election, Labor promised to restore Community Legal Centre funding, stripped by the Abbott Government in 2015, to us at EJA.

Around $10 million was budgeted over four years to the Environmental Defenders Office and Environmental Justice Australia by the Albanese government, but this funding would be even more restrictive than funding under the Howard Government.

In fact, it would be the most restrictive government grant we have ever received.

These restrictions did not support the kind of work that we know is critical for a public interest organisation like us.

That’s why we made a difficult decision not to accept it.

Why? Our independence and ability to be bold and fearless is vital.

When the Abbott government gutted our funding in 2015, we decided there had to be a better way.

Never again did we want to be in the position where politicians could derail our organisation or restrict our work.

Over the past decade, thanks to the generous support of people like you, we’ve worked hard to become the bold, impactful and independent organisation we are today.

We gratefully receive funding from people across Australia. This includes donations from individuals, gifts in wills, and major gifts from individuals and charitable trusts.

We also receive grants from foundations that share our vision and believe in our mission.

We gratefully receive pro-bono support from law firms and legal counsel who advise and appear on behalf of our clients in court.

Leading experts in Australia and around the world contribute their scientific research, expertise and advice through pro-bono assistance.

The only government funding we receive is a community legal centre grant from Victoria Legal Aid to provide access to justice for a small number of clients.

As a national public interest legal organisation, we use the law to challenge the government every single day.

We take federal ministers to court.

We run game-changing legal interventions to compel governments to act.

We ask inconvenient questions about justice and inequality, to drive public policy.

We tirelessly advocate for better laws that work for people and nature.

We can do all of this because we are independent.

The legal cases and campaigns we run are cutting-edge. We often deal with thousands of pieces of evidence in complex litigation and have no shortage of things to do. All of that needs reliable multi-year funding.

If you can, please consider donating today to power a strong and fearless legal voice for communities and nature.