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Government comes through on legal aid

Government comes through on legal aid

The Federal Government has announced more than $20 million in additional one-off funding for legal assistance programs.

The Federal Government has announced more than $20 million in additional one-off funding for legal assistance programs. 

The funding will focus on enhancing early intervention and alternative dispute resolution and includes $10.1m for Commonwealth legal aid services, $4m for community legal centres, and $6.2m for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS).

The announcement comes a week after the Law Institute of Victoria urged the Federal Government to allocate more funding to legal services. While the Victorian Government had already allocated more than $20m to Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) in this year’s State Budget, LIV president Danny Barlow said Federal Government funding would further ensure increased availability for legal aid services for those appearing before the courts and increased legal aid rates.

The funding of legal aid commissions will deal with immediate pressures on service delivery and support measures such as improved mediation conferencing services, upgraded information technology and video-conferencing equipment. 

Community legal centres funding will help disadvantaged Australians who require legal assistance in areas such as consumer protection, mortgage and tenancy issues, welfare rights, family and homelessness issues. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services funding will pay for increased staffing and accommodation associated with the increased cost of service delivery.

An Access to Justice Taskforce has been also been established in the Attorney-General’s Department to report on the measures being undertaken to ensure the federal civil justice system remains simple, fair and affordable for all Australians.

“Legal assistance services are critical to effective early intervention by helping people resolve problems before they escalate and lead to entrenched disadvantage,” Attorney-General Robert McClelland said.


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