The Federal Government will provide over $13 million in additional one-off funding for legal assistance programs across the country, the Attorney-General Robert McClelland announced today.
With access to justice a key focus, the Government has contributed $270 million to legal assistance services and is currently negotiating a National Partnership Agreement on legal assistance services in the states and territories - which aims to achieve significant reform in the way legal assistance services are provided in the future.
The additional funding announced today will include $1.1 million to work in collaboration with the Law Council of Australia to attract lawyers to work in legal assistance programs in rural, regional and remote areas of Australia.
Research conducted by the Law Council in 2009 found that if the shortage of lawyers in rural, regional and remote areas was not addressed as a matter of priority, access to justice in these communities would be seriously impaired.
The Law Council made a submission in March to the Attorney-General's Department and said the funding announced today was a very positive step in addressing the problems.
"The Law Council has expressed concern that ongoing problems in recruiting and retaining legal practitioners in country Australia are negatively impacting on the ability of people living in these areas to access legal services," said Law Council president, Glenn Ferguson.
"The funding announced today will assist the Law Council to work together with the legal assistance sector and the private profession to develop a number of initiatives aimed at addressing this crucial issue."