Information about Legal Assistance Reforms and Cuts to CLCs
There is currently a great deal of interest in the proposed legal assistance reforms and funding cuts to the legal assistance sector, including CLCs.
The Commonwealth Government is proposing to make significant changes to Commonwealth arrangements and funding for CLCs, Legal Aid Commission (LACs), and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS).
NACLC and State and Territory Associations are currently in discussions with all levels of government as well as other legal assistance providers about the proposed changes. NACLC has been providing information and support to State and Territory Associations to engage in these discussions.
In terms of funding to CLCs, there was a cut of $19.6million over 4 years to CLCs as part of the 2013 MYEFO in December 2013 (as part of a broader cut of $43.1 million to legal assistance services), so moving forward there will be a cut of approximately $7.6 million for 2015-16, maintained in 2016-17. This is the early cessation of the last two years of funding provided to some CLCs by the former Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.
As outlined in the 2014-2015 Federal Budget, on top of that amount there is an additional approximately $6 million cut due to take effect in 2017-2018 due to the end of a four-year 'transfer' from the Family Relationships Services Program.
However, the exact amount of Commonwealth funding for CLCs moving forward will not be announced until 12 May 2015 as part of the Federal Budget.
NACLC are also continuing to work closely to support the FVPLS in the face of changes which mean that FVPLS are no longer recognised as a stand-alone program and that have required FVPLS to apply for funding under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy alongside many other services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (including non-legal services).
For further information please contact NACLC on 02 9264 9595 or visit their website at www.naclc.org.au.
NACLC papers and submissions have included the following: