VICTORIAN lawyers are riled at the state government for ignoring the need for additional legal aid resources.
“We were hoping that the Government would realise that more police and PSO officers would lead to increased criminal charges and put additional strain on our courts and legal aid resources,” President Caroline Counsel said.
In an article published on ABC Online, past president of the Law Institute of Victoria said lawyers have been asked to do more and more work for their legal aid clients with no additional payments.
"Why would you ever consider a career in this field?" he said.
LIV president Counsel said the Government had not built on the foundation of the previous Government’s additional $49.9 million for legal aid over two years, despite its massive injection in law and order resources.
“Legal aid funding is essential in providing legal advice to help resolve cases before the courts in a timely and efficient way, which benefits victims of crime, their families, defendants and the whole community,” she said.
“There is inadequate legal aid funding to meet the demands of people needing legal representation now, and we would expect this will dramatically increase over the next year."
“We are hoping that we will receive a better deal from the Federal Government for family law legal aid in next week’s Budget,” she said.
Counsel said the LIV welcomed the $9 million support for Community Legal Centres, as well as initiatives to get young offenders out of remand and into prevention and rehabilitation programs.
“We also welcome recognition that the Courts Integrated Services Program works in helping people deal with drug, alcohol and mental health issues to break the cycle of reoffending,” she said.
Counsel said the $22 million for CISP over four years and the $800,000 over four years for legal advice for the homeless was welcomed.