Coalition funding to Legal Aid a start, but not nearly enough
13 May 2016
The Federal Coalition’s $30 million commitment to fund Legal Aid, community and Aboriginal legal services over three years was a good start but nowhere near enough, according to Queensland Law Society.
Society president Bill Potts said Federal Attorney-General George Brandis’s three-year commitment should the Liberal and National Party be re-elected was a sign the government was aware of the dire position these services in.
However, Mr Potts said: “Much more is needed if we are to make justice accessible for all and to rid our community of the scourge of domestic violence."
“The Society is pleased that there will be consultation with national associations to best target the funding, but we are also underwhelmed by the commitment of only $30 million across the nation over a three-year period.
“The promise of $10 million a year across Australia is a drop in the bucket and in effect services across will be left to fight among themselves for their meagre share of the scraps. Legal Aid and community legal services have become adept at making inadequate funding go a long way, but Rome wasn’t built on a shoestring budget; we cannot count on being able to squeeze more out of over-worked Legal Aid lawyers and volunteers.
“There has been a spike of 42 percent in domestic violence court filings in the past five months alone and a further 58 percent increase in breaches. Add to that the horrific statistic that 30 women this year alone have died as a result of domestic violence, and it is clear increases in funding will save lives."
Mr Potts said that addressing the issue of Domestic Violence needed a co-ordinated approach involving Legal Aid funding and prevention programmes, rather than a patchwork approach.
He also said it remained unclear at this stage how much of the funding would be earmarked for Queensland.
“This is a step in the right direction, but much more is needed to lift this funding beyond the merely symbolic, and get to the point where women enjoy the dignity, safety and security that we expect in our society.”
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