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
Top legal bodies want cuts to Aboriginal legal aid reversed

Top legal bodies want cuts to Aboriginal legal aid reversed

Fiona McLeod

The government has been urged to rethink $13.3 million in cuts to indigenous legal services proposed for July.

“The likely consequences of these cuts will be chaos in the courts and an increase in indigenous imprisonment, [which is] already at unprecedented levels,” said Australian Bar Association (ABA) president Fiona McLeod SC (pictured).

Ms McLeod said the statistics concerning indigenous incarceration in Australia are “damning” and constitute a “national crisis”.

Aboriginal people represent 2.3 per cent of Australia’s population, but 27.4 per cent of Australia’s jail population. Indigenous people are 18 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-indigenous people.

“The figures for juveniles are worse. Young Aboriginal people are locked up at 24 times the rate of non-indigenous juveniles,” Ms McLeod said.

Greens senator Penny Wright said inadequate legal understanding and representation were largely responsible for the high incarceration rates for Aboriginal Australians.

“These cuts demonstrate an appalling lack of concern about shameful over-incarceration of Aboriginal people. Without the national coordination, advocacy and frontline assistance," she said, "I believe we will see imprisonment rates rise even further."

Law Council of Australia (LCA) president Duncan McConnel called for the federal government to immediately re-commit funding to Indigenous Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS).

“Given what we know – that Indigenous people are hospitalised due to family violence at up to 33 times the rate of non-Indigenous people – there is an urgent need for the government to … commit to providing legal services to assist families to escape the cycle of violence,” said Mr McConnel.

Family violence costs Australia $15 billion each year or 1.1 per cent of GDP and indigenous women experience physical violence at twice the rate of non-indigenous women, according to the LCA.

The cuts have been widely criticised by the legal profression, legal aid service leaders, the Productivity Commission and, most recently, the Northern Territory's chief justice, Trevor Riley.

“Cutting service to Aboriginal legal aid may improve the budget bottom line marginally for a year but the increased costs elsewhere in the justice system, due to the lack of services to vulnerable people and the enormous social impact of these cuts, will far outweigh any short-term savings,” the ABA's Ms McLeod concluded.

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

Top legal bodies want cuts to Aboriginal legal aid reversed
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 & ...