Subscribe to News
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES for the COMMON GOOD
News  |  Social Affairs

Senate Support for Legal  Assistance Funding


Thursday, 30th March 2017 at 4:39 pm
Lina Caneva
The Senate has passed a historic motion led by the crossbenches and Labor calling for immediate action on the funding crisis affecting Australia’s legal assistance sector and the federal courts.


Thursday, 30th March 2017
at 4:39 pm
Lina Caneva


0 Comments


FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

 Print
Senate Support for Legal  Assistance Funding
Thursday, 30th March 2017 at 4:39 pm

The Senate has passed a historic motion led by the crossbenches and Labor calling for immediate action on the funding crisis affecting Australia’s legal assistance sector and the federal courts.

The motion, passed on Wednesday, was co-sponsored by Senator Kakoschke-Moore (NXT), Senator Jackie Lambie, Senator Derryn Hinch, Senator Pauline Hanson, and Senator Nick McKim (Greens) and supported by Labor.

It called on the government to:

  • immediately reverse the cuts to Community Legal Centres (CLCs) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services that take effect from 1 July
  • commit to adequate and sustainable longer-term funding contributions to the legal assistance sector
  • release the 2014 KPMG report on the federal courts
  • review resourcing for the federal courts and identify what resources are required to address unacceptable delays in hearings and determinations.

Last week a national pro bono conference was told that the Australian legal assistance sector was facing a federal budget disaster.

The conference heard that crisis in legal assistance funding had been steadily worsening over two decades, and that drastic cuts to take effect from 1 July this year would be particularly “disastrous”.

On Wednesday Law Council of Australia president Fiona McLeod said the Senate had sent a vital and timely message to government that could not be ignored.

“This historic motion, co-sponsored by a wide array of crossbench Senators, is a landmark Parliamentary recognition of the funding crisis in our justice sector and the consequences for all Australians,” McLeod said.

“It is a funding crisis that affects all parts of our justice system: advice (CLCs), representation (legal aid) and judicial hearings themselves (the federal courts).”

“Most urgently, the government should reverse the imminent cuts to CLCs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services.

“CLCs are forced to turn away 160,000 people per year. Many of those people will now carry problems that have grown far worse because they couldn’t obtain legal assistance.

“On legal aid, government funding has fallen from $11.22 per capita annually in 1997 to $7.84 today. Just 8 per cent now qualify for legal aid, despite 14 per cent living under the poverty line. Around 10,000 people per year are compelled to front the courts alone.

“Meanwhile, the underfunding of the federal courts means that families facing the most serious family law issues can wait up to three years before determination.

“Cutting legal assistance and court funding generates much greater costs down the track. To the Senate’s great credit, this has now been formally acknowledged. On behalf of the legal profession, I strongly urge the government to address this crisis as a matter of urgency.”


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.


Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers?

Get in touch at news@probonoaustralia.com.au

Get more stories like this

FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Pressure to boost Newstart grows with launch of Senate inquiry

Luke Michael

Thursday, 25th July 2019 at 4:23 pm

Demands for Jobactive Overhaul

Luke Michael

Tuesday, 19th February 2019 at 5:21 pm

Senate Vote to Increase Income Support Payments Fails

Lina Caneva

Monday, 14th August 2017 at 4:20 pm

Calls to Abandon Cashless Welfare Card Voted Down in Senate

Wendy Williams

Monday, 19th June 2017 at 4:49 pm

POPULAR

The NDIS needs a new plan

Wendy Williams

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019 at 8:15 am

Calls for review into social enterprise structure

Maggie Coggan

Wednesday, 4th December 2019 at 8:28 am

Responsible super funds come out on top

Maggie Coggan

Monday, 9th December 2019 at 5:12 pm

Subscribe to News
pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

Get the social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!