Improving Access to Justice

Too many Australians just can’t get legal advice and help when they need it. Access to justice is the right of all Australians.

INCREASING LEGAL AID FUNDING 

In recent years, legal aid funding has been slashed, putting pressure on the court system and many Australians looking for help. This has created a situation where only the poorest and the richest can hope to obtain legal advice and representation. Many disadvantaged and even middle-income Australians now find the legal system inaccessible.

Our funding increase will ensure that thousands more people are able to get the legal advice they need, making sure access to legal assistance does not become a privilege, but remains the right of all Australians. 

DOUBLING FUNDING FOR COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRES 

Community legal centres play an important role in addressing connected legal, financial, social and health problems. Over 80% of the people helped by community legal centres earn less than $26,000 a year.

Increasing funding to community legal centres will save money in the future. A 2006 study showed for every dollar spent on a community legal centre, the government saves $100 at later points in the justice system.

INCREASING FUNDING FOR ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS’ LEGAL SERVICES

The majority of legal problems are experienced by some of our most vulnerable citizens, including single parents, those receiving welfare payments, people with disabilities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Our plan includes doubling funding to Indigenous family violence prevention legal services in 2014-2015 and increasing funding to other indigenous legal assistance services, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, by 50% in 2014-2015.  

This will have a number of positive outcomes, including addressing imprisonment rates, which are currently 15 times higher for Indigenous Australians than the non-Indigenous population. 

ADDRESSING RISING COURT FEES

A recent Senate Inquiry found rising court fees have inhibited access to justice in Australia. The Greens believe all Australians should be able to seek redress through our courts. That’s why we will invest $137.7 million over the forward estimates to return Federal court fees to 2010-2011 levels, subject to indexation.

This initiative is a simple and effective way to improve access to justice for a great number of Australians.

The Australian Greens’ plan includes:

  • Increasing legal aid funding by 50% in 2014-2015 to be maintained over the following three years;
  • Doubling funding to Community Legal Centres in 2014-2015;
  • Doubling Indigenous Family Violence Prevention legal services funding in 2014-2015 and increasing other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services funding by 50% in 2014-2015;
  • Increasing funding to Indigenous legal assistance services including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS) by 50%; and
  • Addressing the impact of rising court fees by returning court fees to 2010-2011 levels.