find the latest legal job
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
View details
Academic Dean and Head of School of the TC Beirne School of Law
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· An outstanding opportunity · Provide educational, research and organisational leadership
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Arncliffe NSW 2205
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Legal aid push gathers steam

Legal aid push gathers steam

Australia

A raft of legal industry bodies have voiced their support for the national Legal Aid Matters campaign, calling for a total of $350 million in funding.

The Legal Aid Matters campaign, which was launched on Monday to mark the first day of National Law Week, is aimed at ensuring the next federal government responds decisively to the funding crisis.

"Deep cuts by successive federal governments now means that thousands of ordinary Australians are being denied justice," Stuart Clark AM, president of the Law Council of Australia and spokesman for the Legal Aid Matters campaign, said.

"Decades of cuts mean whoever wins the election in July will inherit a system on the brink of complete failure. Reversing the cuts and ending this injustice must be priority for all parties."

The campaign is calling for a total of $350 million in funding, including $120 million to cover civil legal assistance, with the states and territories contributing $80 million, for a total of $200 million – as recommended by the Productivity Commission.

The campaign also wants the Commonwealth’s share of Legal Aid Commission funding increased to 50 per cent with the states and territories, which would amount to an additional $126 million.

Finally, the campaign called for the immediate reversal of the 2014 Commonwealth funding cuts to Community Legal Centres ($12.1 million) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services ($4.5 million) to take effect from July 2017.

The Law Society of NSW, the Law Institute of Victoria, the Victorian Bar, the Queensland Law Society, the Bar Association of Queensland, the ACT Law Society, the Law Society Northern Territory, the Law Society of Western Australia, the Law Society of South Australia and the South Australian Bar Association have all voiced their support and organised various events and rallies across the country.

"The state of legal aid in this country is deplorable and the profession needs to do whatever it can to bring this sorry state of affairs to the attention of the public," Andrew Harris QC, president of the South Australian Bar Association, said.

"I doubt that you will ever get a better time to get the attention of politicians than in an election campaign. Regrettably, it is an issue which is not as seductive as submarines nor as terrific as trains, but it really matters."

National Legal Aid and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) also both voiced their support for the campaign.

"The lack of legal assistance is a large, but often unseen, problem which profoundly harms disadvantaged Australians, their families, the economy and our society," Suzan Cox QC, chair of National Legal Aid, said.

"The scale of this often-invisible problem has now been quantified by the Productivity Commission. It finds that inadequate legal assistance is highly corrosive – socially and economically – and must be addressed with an immediate $200 million funding increase from Commonwealth, state and territory governments."

She continued: "Extra funding is essential because the current legal aid means test is simply too mean. It results in even some pensioners and welfare benefit recipients being ineligible for legal aid."

ALHR is concerned about the effects this funding crisis will have on society’s most vulnerable members, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, women and children, according to the ALHR vice-president Kerry Weste.

"Funding cuts have come at a time when there are crisis levels of Indigenous imprisonment, high rates of Indigenous children in the child protection system and growing rates of family violence," Ms Weste said.

"A failure to address the funding crisis will make a bad situation worse as more Australians will be unrepresented in courts and unable to access legal assistance. This will lead to increased costs to all governments as unrepresented litigants will block the courts and create inefficiencies in the system."

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Legal aid push gathers steam
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Gavel, legal book, criminal lawyers
Jan 19 2018
Three criminal lawyers named NSW magistrates
The NSW Attorney-General has announced the appointment of three new local court magistrates. ...
Warning
Jan 18 2018
Lawyer highlights ‘unintended consequences’ on SSM estate planning
A succession lawyer has warned that the right for same-sex couples to legally marry could have a sub...
drug rehabilitation services available in rural and remote communities
Jan 18 2018
ALS survey shines spotlight on insufficient rehabilitation services
A new survey posted by the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) has revealed an alarming insight into ...
APPOINTMENTS
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'...
opinion
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...
Help
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 & ...