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Government must boost legal assistance to tackle family violence



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MEDIA RELEASE 21 May 2015

Government must boost legal assistance to tackle family violence

Federal cuts to legal assistance funding will undermine efforts to tackle domestic violence, say the Australian Greens.

Legal assistance and domestic violence are two separate agenda items for tomorrow's Law, Crime and Community Safety Council Meeting, but the Australian Greens spokesperson for legal affairs Senator Penny Wright says they should be addressed together.

"If the Government is really genuine about addressing domestic violence, they need to fund the services out there helping people to understand their legal options and act on them," Senator Wright said.

"Earlier this year, the Productivity Commission found legal assistance services needed at least $200 million more - just to address urgent need.

"The Government's shake-up of legal aid funding means cuts to services in several states with more people in desperate need of help being turned away."

Australian Greens spokesperson for women Senator Larissa Waters said access to justice should be a right, not a privilege.

"The chronic under-funding of community legal centres is having devastating impacts on women trying to escape domestic violence and enforce their legal rights to safety, child protection and housing," Senator Waters said.

"The Senate Inquiry into domestic violence, established by the Greens, found some legal centres trying to help women were so under-funded that law students were attempting to do the work of qualified lawyers.

"The Attorneys General and COAG must actually fast-track a national Domestic Violence Order scheme instead of just talking about it. This has been on the 'to-do' list since at least 2010, and there's no excuse for this delay."

Media contacts: Senator Penny Wright - Danielle Forsyth 0417 173 508 Senator Larissa Waters - Monique Vandeleur 0419 626 725