NSW A-G unveils new community funding commitments

04 July 2022 By Simon Levett
Mark Speakman

The NSW government has increased special funding to the legal assistance services sector in order to help people most in need.

The Perrottet government has specifically increased services to the legal assistance services, supporting the NSW commitment to delivering 630,000 legal services each year to vulnerable individuals, families and communities.

It has developed an NSW Legal Assistance Strategy with key stakeholders such as Legal Aid NSW, the Aboriginal Legal Services NSW/ACT and the Community Legal Centres.

The strategy was developed in accordance with the National Legal Assistance Partnership 2020-2025 (NLAP). The NLAP is an agreement between the Australian government and all states and territories to provide Commonwealth-funded legal assistance.

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The priorities of the NSW Legal Assistance Strategy suggest four key areas of priority, namely addressing the needs of people who experience disadvantage, meeting the outcomes of the Closing the Gap agreement, preventing and responding to domestic and family violence, and building the capacity of the sector to support equitable access to legal services.

Attorney-General Mark Speakman suggested that recent crises have put a strain on the provision of services by the NSW legal assistance sector. He said that, in response, “the NSW government has made record investments in the NSW legal assistance sector with legal aid doubling between 2020-11 and 2020-21”.

He stated that “recent events such as the 2019-20 bushfires, the 2022 floods and the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in unprecedented demand on our state’s legal assistance sector”.

Mr Speakman noted that “in the past three years, more than $40 million in state funding has been allocated to community legal centres, an 85 per cent increase since 2015-2016”.

He said that “combined with Commonwealth funding contributions under the National Legal Assistance Partnership, total government investment in the NSW legal assistance sector will exceed $450 per annum from 2022-23”.

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Mr Speakman continued that “the NSW legal assistance sector plays a critical role in ensuring access to justice for some of the most vulnerable people in our community”.

He continued: “Together, the NSW government and the legal assistance sector can make a significant contribution to breaking the cycle of disadvantage and ensuring that people can fully participate and prosper in their communities.”

Commonwealth Attorney-General the honourable Mark Dreyfus QC MP said that “legal assistance services play a vital role in helping the most disadvantaged Australians have access to justice”.

“This strategy will help provide this assistance to the people who need it most, and the Commonwealth looks forward to working with the states and territories on these issues to assist those in greatest need.”

NSW A-G unveils new community funding commitments
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