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Funding for legal assistance services.



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Joint Media Release

9 May 2009

Minister for Home Affairs Bob Debus MP

Attorney-General Robert McClelland MP

FUNDING FOR LEGAL ASSISTANCE SERVICES

The Rudd Government will provide more than $20 million in additional one-off funding for legal assistance programs, focussing on enhancing early intervention and alternative dispute resolution.

“Legal assistance services are critical to effective early intervention by helping people resolve problems before they escalate and lead to entrenched disadvantage,” Mr McClelland said.

Additional one-off funding in legal aid services will include:

• $10.1 million for Commonwealth legal aid services; • $4 million for Community Legal Centres; and • $6.2 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS).

Funding for legal aid commissions will address immediate pressures on service delivery and support measures such as improved mediation conferencing services, upgraded information technology and video-conferencing equipment, and tailored training opportunities focussing on mediation skills and family violence identification and management.

Community Legal Centre funding will help disadvantaged Australians who require legal assistance in areas such as consumer protection, mortgage and tenancy issues, welfare rights, family and homelessness issues.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services will receive funding for increased staffing and accommodation associated with the increased cost of service delivery.

“These additional resources will help address pressing legal aid needs, particularly those of Indigenous Australians and families under acute financial pressure,” Mr Debus said.

As part of the Government’s commitment in this area, an Access to Justice Taskforce has been established in the Attorney-General’s Department and will soon report on further measures to ensure the federal civil justice system remains simple, fair and affordable for all Australians.

Media Contacts:

Samantha Wills (Debus) 0448 721 372 Adam Siddique (McClelland) 0407 473 630