Our legal assistance services aren’t funded properly
- Federal Government legal aid funding has steadily deteriorated from $11.22 per capita in 1997, and is now heading towards less than $8 per capita. More information about legal aid funding is here.
- In 2014, the Productivity Commission found that many relatively affluent Australians could not afford a lawyer if they had a serious legal issue.
- The Commission reported that only around eight per cent of households would be eligible for legal aid grants without having to make a contribution towards costs. Another three per cent may be eligible, subject to making a contribution. It found that ‘means tests are too mean’ with respect to legal aid and recommended that these be increased.
- The Commission further found that more resources are needed to better meet the legal needs of disadvantaged people, recommending that an immediate injection of $200 million was needed to improve legal assistance services for disadvantaged people for civil matters alone.
- In 2015, community legal centres reported turning away 160,000 people nationally due to lack of capacity. These pressures will be even more acute from 1 July 2017, when the Federal Government will cut funding to community legal centres by 30 per cent nationally. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services will lose another $4.5 million in Federal money, equating to a reduction of over $6 million since 2014.
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