find the latest legal job
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
Property Lawyer
Category: Property Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· 12 Month Contract · Diverse Work
View details
In-House Legal Counsel (Mid to Senior)| Regulated Markets (Energy and Gas)
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Full PD on Request · Exciting High Impact Role
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
Law Council sticks knife in on legal aid funding

Law Council sticks knife in on legal aid funding

Legal Aid Commissions, community legal centers and Indigenous legal services are "chronically underfunded", according to the Law Council of Australia.

LEGAL Aid Commissions, community legal centers and Indigenous legal services have been "chronically underfunded" in recent years, according to the Law Council of Australia. 

Legal aid has been facing downfall, particularly in the Commonwealth area, since 1996 when the so-called "commonwealth-state divide" was introduced by the previous government, the LCA said.

In evidence provided this week to a Senate inquiry into access to justice, the Law Council highlighted that the Commonwealth’s share of legal aid funding has fallen by about 20 per cent between 1996/97 and 2009/10.

Commonwealth funding for legal aid has been dropping sharply, with figures obtained by the Law Council showing a steady decline since the late 1990s.

A Parliamentary Committee report on Access to Justice is due to be released today. 

Bill Grant, secretary general of the Law Council, told The New Lawyer that the demise of legal aid in Australia came about in the mid 1990s when the Howard Government decided that it would only allow Commonwealth monies to be spent on Commonwealth law matters. 

Previously it was a 55-45 per cent split, with the latter coming from the state. This has lead to a drastic drop in Commonwealth funding, Grant said.

"I believe this was not about Commonwealth law matters, it was about cutting the amount of money it was putting into legal assistance sector, not just legal aid but community legal centers and aboriginal legal services, all of which are chronically under funded," he said. 

When the Rudd government came into power, he said, many were hopeful it would see the beginning of correcting that position. "No one expects sizable amounts of money to be injected in one or two budgets, but the money in real terms has actually decreased," Grant said.  

The Law Council said the Attorney General is trying as hard as he can to get the money out of his government, "but we've seen resources go into other areas. I don't think it's as simple as "times are tough'". 

The Law Council recommends the Commonwealth develop and adopt a mechanism to begin to break down the commonwealth-state funding divide. 

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

Law Council sticks knife in on legal aid funding
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Law Council of Australia
LCA calls for urgent adoption of ‘game-changing’ recommendation
The Law Council of Australia has urged for the immediate adoption of a key recommendation put forwar...
Sally Wheeler
Nov 20 2017
ANU College of Law appoints new dean
A distinguished legal academic and the former head of law of a higher education institution in Irela...
Nov 17 2017
It's time for politicians to commit to eradicating domestic violence
The national shame of domestic violence cannot be left unaddressed, writes Christine Smyth. ...
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 & ...