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Greens scheme to make legal help easier for all Australians

Media Release
Penny Wright 16 Aug 2013

An Australian Greens promise to inject a further $842.6 million into legal assistance services will help ordinary Australians resolve workplace issues, consumer battles and property disputes, says spokesperson for legal affairs Senator Penny Wright.

The Greens have committed to doubling funding for community legal centres and increasing Federal contributions to legal aid by 50 per cent to end the long-term under-resourcing of legal assistance services.

"Every year, half of all Australian adults face a legal issue, but more and more people are finding they cannot afford legal advice or representation," Senator Wright said.

"Unfortunately legal aid and community legal centres are so under-resourced they cannot meet demand.

"It is time to make sure every Australian can seek justice and that legal issues are resolved on the merits of the claim, not the size of someone's wallet.

"Strengthening community legal services will allow more Australians to seek advice on everything from a dispute with their telephone company to serious family law cases."

Senator Wright said the Australian Greens plan would also address long-term underfunding of legal aid, where funding cuts in some states had led to important criminal cases being delayed.

"Access to justice in Australia has reached a crisis point. Each year, approximately 500,000 Australians miss out on essential legal services, causing significant financial and emotional stress," Senator Wright said.

"It is fundamental to our democracy that the legal system is open to everyone who has been wronged and is seeking a fair outcome, not just those with big incomes."

The Greens will also double funding to Indigenous Family Violence Prevention legal services, boost contributions to other indigenous legal assistance services by 50 per cent and return Federal Court fees to 2010/11 levels, as recommended by a recent Senate inquiry.

Read more about the Greens' plan for a more affordable, accessible and fair justice system at http://greensmps.org.au/justice-safety-net.

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