Law Society welcomes cancellation of proposed cuts to legal assistance funding
The Law Society of Western Australia welcomes today’s announcement by the Federal Government that it will restore funding to community legal centres in the upcoming Budget and not proceed with previously proposed cuts of approximately $35 million.
“I am delighted that the Federal Government will not be proceeding with previously proposed cuts to the legal assistance sector. A reduction in funding of around 30 percent would have been extremely damaging to community legal centres generally, and to legal services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in particular,” said Law Society President Alain Musikanth.
“Practitioners in our legal assistance sector do terrific work in ensuring access to justice for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, making it vital that their organisations receive adequate funding. This announcement will be a great boost to these practitioners and, most importantly, to their clients who desperately seek legal help, and the Federal Government is to be congratulated on its decision not to proceed with the cuts,” Mr Musikanth said.
“The Law Society of Western Australia had joined with the Law Council of Australia and other law societies across the country in campaigning for the proposed cuts to be reversed and I am pleased that the Federal Government has responded appropriately. As Law Council President Fiona McLeod SC has noted, it is important that the work to maintain acceptable levels of legal assistance continues, especially in light of the Productivity Commission’s 2014 recommendation of an additional $200 million.
“Prior to the State election, the Law Society had encouraged local politicians to confirm their commitment to an additional $8 million, plus long-term funding to overcome the rapidly escalating crisis in the legal assistance sector. The Law Society will continue to work at State level to ensure the Western Australian community is properly served,” Mr Musikanth said.
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About us: The Law Society of Western Australia is the peak professional association for lawyers in the State. The Society is a not-for-profit association dedicated to the representation of its more than 3800 members. The Society enhances the legal profession through its position as a respected leader and contributor on law reform, access to justice and the rule of law. The Society is widely acknowledged by the legal profession, government and the community as the voice of the legal profession in Western Australia.