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
Legal bodies urge government to rethink legal aid cuts

Legal bodies urge government to rethink legal aid cuts


National, state and territory legal bodies have joined forces to launch a national campaign to draw attention to the crisis in legal aid.

Over the last 20 years, successive federal governments have cut the Commonwealth’s share of legal aid from 50 per cent to 35 per cent, according to the Law Council of Australia (LCA). 

The LCA is urging the Federal Government to restore its funding to 50 per cent and substantially increase funding to all legal assistance bodies.

“The plight of people denied legal aid is a direct result of hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts by successive federal governments,"said LCA president Stuart Clark. “It is time to take a stand."

The Law Society of South Australia, the Law Society of Western Australia, the Law Society of Tasmania, Queensland Law Society and Law Society Northern Territory have also called for the Federal Government to restore its share of legal assistance funding.

Successive government and publicly funded inquiries have recommended substantial increases in Federal Government funding, including by the Government’s chief economic policy advisory bodies, according to the LCA.

Law Society of SA president David Caruso said that savings are not achieved by cutting legal aid.

“Underfunding legal aid means denying citizens their legal rights,” he said. “That entrenches hardship, leading to greater welfare dependence and even increased criminal activity.”

Over the past five years nearly 15,000 South Australians have been refused legal aid. 

South Australia’s Legal Services Commission’s budget is now being cut by $10 million over the next four years, while the state’s Community Legal Centres have seen a $900,000 reduction in funding.

“[Legal aid funding cuts] severely impacts many Australians, including working families and those who've lost jobs and fallen on hard times,” said Mr Caruso.

"Without legal aid, individuals are denied legal help against larger corporate and government bodies with deeper pockets," he continued.

The current means test has also dissuaded many low-income earners from applying for legal assistance, according to the Law Society of SA.

“Legal aid is there to assist underpaid workers, victims of elder abuse, domestic violence victims, ripped-off consumers, victims of fraud, and debt-ridden small business operators,” continued Mr Caruso.

“A commitment to funding legal aid by the Federal Government is a commitment to these people having their legal rights defended."

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

Legal bodies urge government to rethink legal aid cuts
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 & ...