Each year, half of all Australians over 15 years of age will face a legal issue, but approximately 500,000 will miss out on essential legal services. Increasingly, this is affecting middle-income Australians as well as the most disadvantaged.
Access to justice means Australians can resolve their legal problems and achieve fair results - based on the merits of their case – not the size of their wallet.
We need to ensure that all people have access to the justice system. Without it, the rule of law is fatally weakened – only available to some members of society and not others.
Unresolved legal problems lead to many other serious health and financial problems. Unless we resource justice properly now, we will all pay for it down the track.
That’s why we’ve announced an investment of $842.6 million over the forward estimates to increase access to justice for the many Australians who are left out. The key features of our policy are:
• 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 the funding for other indigenous legal services, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, by 50% in 2014-2015;
• Addressing the impact of rising court fees by returning court fees to 2010-2011 levels;
• Amending the application form for exemptions from court fees to remove ambiguity and introducing a fee exemption category for clients who are being represented on a pro bono basis.
Our funding increase will ensure that thousands more Australians can get the legal advice they need, making sure access to legal assistance is a right, not a privilege.
The Greens’ plan will pave the way for more Australians to receive legal assistance and have help to solve their legal problems.
We continue to be a strong, caring, progressive voice for improved access to justice in Australia.