Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Access to Justice
That the Senate—
(i) research from early 2012 by the Australia Institute which revealed that approximately 500 000 Australians are missing out on essential legal services,
(ii) the 2012 Australian Council of Social Service Community Sector Survey that highlighted how community legal centres are struggling to meet demand, waiting lists are increasing and approximately 14 per cent of people who sought assistance in 2010-11 were turned away, and
(iii) recent research by the New South Wales Law and Justice Foundation which estimated that each year over 8 million people will experience a legal problem; and
(b) calls on the Government to respond to the current crisis in the legal assistance sector, and promote improved access to justice, by addressing:
(i) the high cost of legal services,
(ii) increasing demand for legal assistance,
(iii) changes to legal aid eligibility, and
(iv) the impact of recent court fee increases on individuals and small businesses.
Thank you. The Australian government has invested $1.5 billion in legal assistance programs in the last five years. The government is currently undertaking the first comprehensive national review of all Commonwealth funded legal assistance. The findings of the review will form an evidence base to guide future decisions on how best to deliver legal assistance programs to increase access to justice for all Australians.
Question agreed to.