Law Council of Australia

Media

Budget a missed opportunity to invest in justice

29 March 2022

The Law Council welcomes the funding announced in tonight’s Budget to support Australians interacting with the family law system, women experiencing family violence and those affected by the floods.

In particular:

“The Law Council is particularly pleased to see additional funding for the Lighthouse Project, which triages matters with serious family violence, and the Family Violence and Cross Examination of Parties Scheme and additional funding for the Court and Legal Aid Commissions,” Law Council President Mr Tass Liveris said.

“However, this funding does not effectively acknowledge that some of these initiatives, particularly the case management pathway, have increased costs for Australian families and that the family law sector has been significantly underfunded for many years. We will have to wait to see the impact this funding has on reducing the backlog of matters, in meeting the growing demand for services and ensuring Australian families can afford assistance when they need it.

“We also welcome the further investment of $1.3 billion to deliver targeted measures towards implementation of the new National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children.

“These are important initiatives that will help women and children impacted by family violence to navigate the family law system.

“However, more resources to ensure all Australians have equal access to justice are needed.

“The focus of this year’s Budget has been on addressing increasing cost-of-living pressures. These pressures have the biggest impact on the most vulnerable in our society.

“In the Justice Project, the Law Council identified that people experiencing disadvantage, including financial disadvantage, are often more vulnerable to experiencing legal problems, including family law issues and family violence. There can be a particular impact on civil law issues related to care needs, housing and rising debts.

“We know that legal issues can arise or worsen when times get tougher and services need to be there and able to help when people need them most. The consequences of being unable to access legal help can be profound, with implications for their financial security, health, housing and safety. A stated focus of this Budget is on guaranteeing essential services. It is time to recognise that legal services are an essential service.”

While the Law Council welcomes the announcements in the Federal Budget tonight, frontline legal services within the legal assistance sector remain critically underfunded and subject to strict resourcing limitations.

“Investment in frontline legal services not only improves outcomes for individuals it has demonstrated benefits in terms of downstream costs savings for the Government,” Mr Liveris said.

In the lead up to the Federal Election, the Law Council looks forward to hearing from all parties and candidates regarding proposals to improve access to justice for Australians.

“The looming Federal Election is another important opportunity for those seeking to be our elected representatives to commit to the investment needed to ensure that all arms of our justice system can effectively help the people of Australia,” Mr Liveris said.

Other Budget measures noted by the Law Council include:

Contact

Kristen Connell
P. 0400 054 227
E. kristen@talkforcemedia.com.au

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