Law Council Tells Senate Of Dramatic Decline In Legal Aid Funding

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MR3209

29 October 2009


Law Council Tells Senate of Dramatic

Decline in Legal Aid Funding 

Commonwealth funding for legal aid has been dropping sharply, with

figures

obtained by the Law Council

showing a steady decline since the

late 1990s.

In evidence provided this week to a Senate inquiry into access to justice,

the Law Council highlighted

that the Commonwealth’s

share of legal aid

funding has fallen by about 20 per cent between 1996/97 and 2009/10.

Law Council President John Corcoran said, “Virtually every organisation

that has provided evidence to this Senate inquiry has highlighted the fact

that the legal assistance sector is chronically underfunded. It is clearly an

issue the committee and the Government cannot ignore.”

“The Commonwealth Government has

largely been responsible for the

stagnation in legal aid funding since 1996,” Mr Corcoran said.  

During

the period of 1996-97,

the

Commonwealth’s contribution,

out of a

total income for legal aid commissions around the country of $264 million,

was $128 million – or roughly 50 per cent of legal aid income.  

In contrast, the Commonwealth’s contribution

in 2009/10

has dropped to

$168 million from a total expenditure

of $531

million –

a figure that

represents less than 32 per cent.

“The Law

Council is awaiting the findings of

the Legal and Constitutional

Affairs Committee’s report into Access to Justice, which is due

to be

released tomorrow. We

look forward to analysing its recommendations,

which we hope will provide a fresh impetus to calls for increased

Commonwealth legal aid funding,” Mr Corcoran concluded. 



Media Contact:

Elenore Eriksson, Director Public Affairs 

P. 02 6246 3716 || M. 0419 269 855


The Law Council of Australia exists to represent the legal profession

at the national level, to speak on behalf of its constituent bodies on

national issues, and to promote the administration of justice, access

to justice and general improvement of the law.






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