Monday, 1 February 2016

ACT legal profession supports national legal aid funding campaign

“The Federal Government’s continued underfunding of legal assistance services is adversely affecting the ability of some of the most vulnerable members of the community to access the justice system,” the President of the ACT Law Society, Martin Hockridge said today in a joint statement with Shane Gill, President of the ACT Bar Association.

Mr Hockridge and Mr Gill were speaking at a ceremony to mark the opening of the legal year. The ceremony was attended by the Attorney-General, Simon Corbell MLA, as well as judges, magistrates and members of the legal community.

“The ACT Law Society and the ACT Bar Association join the Law Council of Australia (LCA) in calling on the Federal Government to reverse the reduction in legal aid funding,” said Mr Hockridge.

“There has been a significant and sustained reduction in legal aid funding since 1996. This funding shortfall has resulted in many vulnerable members of the community who need legal assistance being left to navigate the justice system as best they can.

“The inadequate level of federal funding has been consistently identified in a number of government sponsored inquiries – and most recently, the Productivity Commission’s report on access to justice. These reports indicate that investing money in legal assistance services will result in longer term savings.

“While legal practitioners assist where they can through the provision of pro bono services, this is not an acceptable alternative to the provision of adequate services by the Federal Government.”