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Federal Budget 2011: Budget lets down Victorian courts and legal aid

Federal Budget 2011: Budget lets down Victorian courts and legal aid

Additional police coupled with a paucity of additional funding for Victoria's court system will lead to further strain on court and legal aid resources, according to the Law Institute of…

Additional police coupled with a paucity of additional funding for Victoria's court system will lead to further strain on court and legal aid resources, according to the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV).

Speaking out following yesterday's (3 May) release of the Victorian State budget, the LIV said the Government has failed to recognise the need for additional legal aid resources.

"We were hoping that the Government would realise that more police and [protective services] officers would lead to increased criminal charges and put additional strain on our courts and legal aid resources," said LIV president Caroline Counsel.

Counsel added that the Government has 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."

According to Counsel, lawyers have been asked to do an increasing amount of work for their legal aid clients with no additional payment.

"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.

However, 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, and the $800,000 over four years for legal advice for the homeless.

"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.

Reporting live from Parliament House in Canberra on Budget Night (May 10), teams from Capital Monitor and Lawyers Weekly will be keeping you up-to-date on the key announcements and industry reaction on this site as it happens, as well as on our special Federal Budget microsite: www.lexisnexis.com.au/federal-budget . Click here to sign up for our free Federal Budget e-newsletter -- delivering all the key announcements & reaction direct to your inbox on budget night.

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