Community Legal Centres around the country have been anxiously waiting for news re federal funding.

We can now say that government support of our sector is both changed and improved – up to 2016/17.  From 2017/18 the funding has been cut as the following information from the Budget Papers reveals…

Please keep in touch with your federal and state MP’s about the great demand for community legal services to our city’s many vulnerable and disadvantaged.  A second, funded CLC in Gold Coast is desperately needed!

 

 

The 2015/16 Budget is focused on building jobs, growth and opportunity, while making progress in restoring Australia’s budget position.

This Budget provides a sound basis from which longer-term arrangements with the states can be considered in both the Reform of the Federation White Paper, and the White Paper on the Reform of Australia’s Tax System.

The Commonwealth is ensuring certainty in service provision in the following key areas:

  • a new two year National Partnership on homelessness to maintain critical frontline homelessness services with a particular focus on women and children experiencing domestic violence, and homeless youth;
  • a two year extension to the National Partnership on universal access to early childhood education to provide affordable, quality early childhood education programmes for all children; and
  • a new five year National Partnership on legal assistance services which extends the current arrangements for Legal Aid Commissions and will provide Commonwealth funding for Community Legal Centres.

National Partnership on legal assistance services
$million NSW VIC QLD WA SA TAS ACT NT Total
2014/15 64.6 45.8 42.5 20.5 16.2 6.1 4.6 4.0 204.4
2015/16 74.6 57.6 50.1 29.0 19.5 7.3 5.8 7.1 250.9
2016/17 76.6 59.2 51.4 29.9 19.8 7.3 5.8 7.2 257.1
2017/18 74.5 57.1 50.1 28.8 18.8 6.9 5.6 6.9 248.7
2018/19 75.5 58.0 51.0 29.5 19.1 7.0 5.7 7.0 252.9

The Commonwealth is providing funding for the National Partnership on legal assistance services. This National Partnership will allow the states to provide legal assistance services to disadvantaged persons in accordance with Commonwealth policy priorities. This funding is supporting Legal Aid Commissions and, from 2015/16, will be expanded to support Community Legal Centres.

National Partnership on Legal Assistance Services — continuation

Expense ($m)
  2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Department of the Treasury 40.0 42.2 30.1 30.6
Attorney-General’s Department -40.0 -42.2 -30.1 -30.6
Total — Expense

The Government will provide $1.0 billion over four years for a new National Partnership on Legal Assistance Services for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2020, including $1.0 million over four years in departmental funding redirected to states and territories (states) to support this work.

Under the new National Partnership to be negotiated with the states, the Commonwealth will continue to provide funding for Legal Aid Commissions, and will transfer Commonwealth funding for Community Legal Centres to the states. The agreement will also provide a basis for increased flexibility in matching resource allocations to needs.

Funding will continue to be provided through the Attorney-General’s Department for the Community Legal Support Programme ($11.1 million over four years) and the Expensive Commonwealth Criminal Cases Fund ($11.5 million over four years).

Funding for this measure has already been provided for by the Government.

See also the related expense measure Legal Assistance Funding — extension.

Legal Assistance Funding — extension

Expense ($m)
  2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Attorney-General’s Department 13.0 12.4
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet -11.5
Total — Expense -11.5 13.0 12.4

The Government will provide funding of $25.5 million over two years for certain legal assistance programmes.

The measure is comprised of:

  • $12.0 million over two years to continue the supplementary funding allocated to various community legal centres;
  • $11.5 million over two years to continue funding for the Indigenous Legal Assistance Programme; and
  • $2.0 million over two years to restore funding to the Expensive Commonwealth Criminal Cases Fund.

The funding for this measure will be offset from within the Indigenous Affairs and Attorney-General’s Portfolios.

Further information can be found in the joint press release of 26 March 2015 issued by the Attorney-General and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women.

 

Source: Budget Papers