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Thursday, 21 February 1980
Page: 316

Mr Jacobi asked the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice, on 7 November 1979:

(   1 ) Why have the funds for research by the Commonwealth Legal Aid Commission into matters connected with the need for, and delivery of, legal services been substantially reduced.

(2)   What was the nature of the research carried out by the Commission during 1978-79.

(3)   Will any of this research be jeopardised by cuts in funding.

(4)   Has the Commission been fully staffed during 1978-79; if not, why not.

(5)   What assistance was provided to each or any of the 12 Community Legal Services operating in Australia on a fulltime basis during 1978-79.

(6)   What provision has been made for assistance to these centres in 1979-80.

(7)   What steps does the Commission intend to take to foster the initiation or development of communitybased legal services in 1979-80.

Mr Viner - The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(   1 ) The funds provided to the Commission for research have not been reduced. For externally commissioned research in 1979-80 $25,000 has been provided against $12,500 provided for that purpose in 1978-79. In addition it is open to the Commission to have a number or research projects conducted by its staff. The total funds provided for salaried staff, including research staff, has also been increased in 1979-80. Funds provided to the Commission take account of the need for restraint in all fields of public expenditure.

(2)   During 1978-79 the following work was carried out by consultant researchers:

(a)   an examination of the published material relating to the need and demand for legal services in Australia;

(   b) a study of the objectives of major legal aid services in Australia and a report on the best method of evaluating the effectiveness of those services; and

(c)   a brief for the framework for a study of the access and accountability of legal aid services.

Commission staff commenced the following research during 1978-79: an interstate comparison of legal aid costs ( completed ); a study of group legal services; and a study of social indicators.

(3)   No. The funds provided will enable the research mentioned in paragraphs 2 (b) and (c) above to be completed and further projects to be undertaken.

(4)   The Commission has not been fully staffed during 1978-79. Some staff members were not recruited until the later months of the financial year. The Commission has not succeeded in filling several positions, and a number of vacancies are advertised at present. The Commission has not yet recruited up to its staff ceiling level.

(3)   Funds totalling $88,000 were made available to the following legal aid services during1978-79:


(6)   Total assistance to community-based legal aid services in 1979-80 will be $270,000. This will comprise $175,000 specifically provided for such assistance in 1 979-80, together with $95,000 paid from funds appropriated to New South Wales in1977-78 and held in trust for distribution as directed by the Commonwealth.

(7)   In its Second Annual Report the Commission has strongly supported the concept of voluntary and communitybased legal schemes, but has not indicated the steps it intends to take to foster such schemes. To the extent that it is practicable to do so, the Government is assisting the development of such schemes through special grants.

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