Partial Reversal Of Cuts To Legal Assistance A Step In The Right Direction

Labor has welcomed the Government’s decision to return $15 million dollars to legal assistance services to help women experiencing domestic violence.

THE HON. MARK DREYFUS QC, MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

PARTIAL REVERSAL OF CUTS TO LEGAL ASSISTANCE A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Labor has welcomed the Government’s decision to return $15 million dollars to legal assistance services to help women experiencing domestic violence.

The provision of legal assistance is a vital part of dealing with the scourge of domestic violence in our society.

The Liberals record, however, is crystal clear:

  • $24 million cut from Community Legal Centres

  • $15 million cut from Legal Aid Commissions

  • $13 million cut from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services

  • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services cut from the Attorney-General’s Department and forced to tender afresh for the entirety of their Commonwealth funding

“The impact of these cuts has certainly been felt on the ground,” said Shadow Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus.

“Programs have been cancelled. Clients have been turned away. Staff have had to leave centres. There has been enormous disruption and uncertainty across the sector.”

“Labor welcomes the Government’s announcement that it will return some funding for legal assistance services,” said Mr Dreyfus.

“However, we must be clear that this decision regrettably follows two years of cuts, disruption and uncertainty imposed on the legal assistance sector by the Abbott/Turnbull Government.”

“I am pleased that the Government is willing to recognise just how vital community legal centres and other legal assistance services are for vulnerable women.”

“Now the Government must explain how it intends to fund those vital services well into the future.”

While the Government has abandoned some of its earlier cuts, its new National Partnership Agreement locks in future cuts to community legal centres, which are set to lose almost 30 per cent of their funding from 2017-18.

Labor looks forward to hearing further detail about how the additional funding promised by the Government will be used.

THURSDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 2015