Wednesday, July 1, 2015
SENATOR THE HON GEORGE BRANDIS QC
Today, a new five year national partnership agreement on legal assistance services commenced. It delivers $1.3 billion of Commonwealth funding for legal aid commissions and community legal centres.
This is the first time Commonwealth funding for community legal centres has been included in a national partnership agreement. The agreement provides for a fair and more systematic approach to the funding allocation to deliver legal services to vulnerable people. States and territories, as the level of government closer to the people needing services, will now be able to make integrated, evidence-based decisions about where funding is directed and how services are delivered.
The Australian Government recognises that people may face multiple and interrelated legal problems. The new agreement focusses on helping the most disadvantaged members of our community – including women and children experiencing domestic violence, people with disabilities or mental illness, and Indigenous Australians. The agreement is the product of more than twelve months of intensive consultation and negotiation with state and territory governments and the legal assistance sector.
I thank the state and territory Attorneys-General for the genuine and collaborative way in which the new agreement has been developed. In addition to the significant funding contribution under the national partnership agreement, the Australian Government will continue to directly fund Indigenous legal assistance providers, delivering on the Government’s ongoing commitment to improving law and justice outcomes for Indigenous Australians.
The Government has allocated $350 million over five years to provide culturally appropriate legal assistance services to support Indigenous people to effectively access justice.