find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
LCA criticises legal aid underfunding

LCA criticises legal aid underfunding

Chronic underfunding is crippling the legal assistance sector, the Law Council of Australia (LCA) has claimed, after figures were released revealing community legal centres are turning away record numbers of people in need.

Around 73 per cent of community legal services in Australia aren’t able to meet demand for their services, according to an Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) survey, which has found a record 11,693 people presenting for help were turned away over the past year.

Catherine Gale (pictured), LCA president, told Lawyers Weekly the survey highlights the Federal Government’s failure to address underfunding of the legal assistance sector.

Gale described the Commonwealth’s 34 per cent contribution to the total legal aid budget in 2010-2011 as “inadequate”.

“There has been a dramatic drop in the proportion of funding contributed by the Commonwealth ... and the outcomes will have a significant impact on many Australians, including some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Australian Government legal aid funding per capita has fallen by about 22 per cent in real terms since 1997. The LCA has made a business case to Treasury to restore Government funding to 50 per cent by 2015.

“Underfunding of the legal assistance sector creates additional costs downstream, rippling into many different areas, including the justice system, public health system and the broader business community,” said Gale.

She pointed to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report commissioned by National Legal Aid, which revealed that for every $1 spent on Commonwealth legal aid services up to $2.25 is saved within the justice system.

“This means that the Commonwealth can actually save more than it invests by simply delivering on its funding obligations,” she said.

Funding shortfalls have also forced legal aid commissions in some jurisdictions to tighten eligibility for legal aid, which has left many people living below the Henderson poverty line unable to access legal assistance, Gale claimed.

This problem is not unique to community legal centres, she continued, with Legal Aid Commissions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services “feeling the effects of funding shortfalls for well over a decade”.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

LCA criticises legal aid underfunding
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...