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Monday, 11 November 2002
Page: 6031


Senator Ludwig asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 16 September 2002:

With reference to Commonwealth funding of legal aid to the states:

(1) What is the process used by the Commonwealth Government to determine the level of funding by state to fund legal aid agencies.

(2) What is the number of matters referred by the Regional Law Hotline to legal aid agencies since it became operational in 2001.

(3) How many applications for legal aid have been rejected in Queensland in the past 2 financial years, by type of matter dealt with (eg. Family Court matter, criminal matter, etc).


Senator Ellison (Minister for Justice and Customs) —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Commonwealth funding under the legal aid agreements for 2000-04 was allocated using a distributive funding model which takes account of relevant demographics, and demand and cost factors. It uses a similar approach to that taken by the Commonwealth Grants Commission in its work. The methodology used to distribute funding is currently being reviewed with assistance from the Commonwealth Grants Commission and in consultation with Legal Aid Commissions. The Commonwealth aims to reach agreement on a revised model with the Legal Aid Commissions in time for the implementation of the new agreements for 2004-08.

(2) The Regional Law Hotline is a confidential, free, legal telephone service available to people living in 14 designated regional, rural and remote locations throughout Australia. This service uses the infrastructure that was established to support the Family Law Hotline. The Family Law Hotline is a confidential, free, national telephone service focussing on family law system information including details of relevant support services throughout Australia.

The Regional Law Hotline service is provided jointly by staff of the Regional and Family Law Hotline call centres and 14 participating Regional Law Hotline service providers. People who call the Regional or Family Law Hotlines (toll free on 1800 050 400 or 1800 050 321) can receive family law related information from the call centre staff. If they require legal advice or general legal information and they live in a designated area, then the call centre staff transfer the call to the corresponding Regional Law Hotline provider.

The Regional and Family Law Hotline call centres referred 3,007 matters to legal aid agencies between 21 June 2001 and 20 September 2002. Of these, 81 originated from Regional Law Hotline designated areas.

(3) The numbers of applications for legal aid in Commonwealth matters, which have been refused by Legal Aid Queensland, are set out in the table below.

Applications Refused by Law Type - Legal Aid Queensland:

Year

Family

Civil

Criminal

Total

2000/01

3,570

183

63

3,816

2001/02

3,877

160

68

4,105

By way of further information, the tables below set out the numbers of applications received and the numbers of applications approved by Legal Aid Queensland in Commonwealth matters.

Applications Received by Law Type - Legal Aid Queensland:

Year

Family

Civil

Criminal

Total

2000/01

12,941

627

474

14,042

2001/02

12,807

494

536

13,837

Applications Approved by Law Type - Legal Aid Queensland:

Year

Family

Civil

Criminal

Total

2000/01

9,186

443

404

10,033

2001/02

8,884

313

476

9,673