We are today announcing that the Turnbull Government will make a further significant investment in the community legal sector, as part of the 2017-18 Budget.
The Government will commit an additional $55.7 million over the next three years for Community Legal Centres ($39 million) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services ($16.7 million).
Combined with existing funding under the National Partnership Agreement to 2020, this represents the largest ever Commonwealth investment in legal assistance services, going to Legal Aid Commissions, Community Legal Centres and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services – a record Commonwealth commitment of $1.73 billion.
As part of the Government’s commitment to tackling violence against women and their children, the additional $39 million for Community Legal Centres will prioritise frontline family law and family violence services.
This investment builds on the Turnbull Government’s historic funding commitments to keep women and children safe from violence. The Government has already committed $45 million for frontline legal assistance and family law services as part of the $100 million Women’s Safety Package and $100 million Third Action Plan.
The Government is also investing more than $112 million through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy to Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS) to provide culturally-appropriate legal assistance and support to Indigenous families.
The funding allocation will be finalised with the states and territories under the National Partnership Agreement.
As part of the Government’s commitment to achieving real and positive change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, an additional $16.7 million will also be directed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services over the next three years.
The Commonwealth continues to provide over 95 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services funding, despite the majority of services being provided for state or territory criminal law matters.
The Government has always recognised the essential role of the legal assistance sector in providing access to justice for the most vulnerable Australians.
This record funding commitment acknowledges this, and has been achieved despite strong budgetary pressures and, unlike the Labor Party, the available funds are being prioritised and committed to provide frontline services to those who need them most.
Sources Attorney-General, Senator The Hon George Brandis QC
Minister for Women, Senator The Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator The Hon Nigel Scullion