The funding assigned to Legal Aid has been slashed by another $15 million in the Federal Budget released last week. This has caused significant outrage among sectors of the community who lament the further cuts will erode basic human rights and result in a higher instance of justice being miscarried.
The Law Council of Australia had said an additional $80 million in funding was required not a reduction of $15 million. Law Council of Australia President, Mr Michael Colbran OC, said the $15 million in cuts to legal aid announced will have a significant impact on the already chronically under-funded legal assistance bodies to provide legal services to many Australians.
Mr Colbran further commented as follows:
“Successive Federal Governments have short-changed legal aid over the last two decades with the Commonwealth transferring massive costs on to the states and territories – this simply cannot continue”
There are great fears that the current level of funding provided to legal assistance services is unsustainable as there is an increasing demand for legal services whilst funding declines.
The Law Council of Australia Access to Justice spokesperson De David Neal SC has commented that the means tests for legal aid are so stringent that some people who qualify for pensions or benefits do not qualify for legal aid.
In Victoria alone cuts in grants of legal aid over the last three years mean that an additional 11,000 people will confront the legal system without legal assistance.
Increases in self representation has seen criminal trials being postponed, children being unrepresented in Family Court matters and former partners cross-examining each other in court after violent relationship breakdowns.
Gatenby Criminal Lawyers is a preferred supplier for legal aid. Contact our office for an appointment today on 55 800 120 and we can lodge an application for legal aid on your behalf.
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