Record boost of $ 95 million for the legal aid sector


More people facing hardship across New South Wales will have access to free legal assistance thanks to additional funding of $ 95 million in Commonwealth Legal Aid over four years.

Attorney General and Minister for Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Mark Speakman said record investment will support our legal aid industry hard-working in meeting unprecedented demand for services resulting from the health and economic crisis of COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed significant pressure on vulnerable people across New South Wales and has highlighted the critical need for access to free legal services,” Speakman said.

“I am very grateful for the contribution of our dedicated legal aid providers in providing much needed support to disadvantaged people, when so many find it difficult.

“I encourage providers to apply for funding to support victim-survivors of domestic and sexual violence, people in need of mental health services and other disadvantaged groups struggling with financial stress often intensified by COVID-19. “

Free legal aid services are available for socially and economically disadvantaged people facing a variety of issues, including job loss, debt issues, housing insecurity, family law issues, and those in need. need help when they are abused.

The new funding includes:
* $ 39.3 million for NSW Legal Aid, Community Legal Centers and other service providers to help vulnerable women, with a focus on victims of domestic and family violence;
* $ 16 million to help people with mental health problems access the justice system;
* $ 12.2 million to help workers who are victims of sexual harassment or discrimination;
* $ 23.5 million for Legal Aid NSW to expand Family Advocacy and Support Services (FASS), including new court locations and increased mental health support; and
* $ 2.4 million for providers to expand domestic violence units (UVD) with dedicated mental health support and increased awareness of women in regional or remote regions.

This record investment in the legal aid sector is part of the National Legal Aid Partnership Agreement 2020-25 (NLAP).

Commonwealth Attorney General Michaelia Cash said the funding would help disadvantaged vulnerable Australians access essential legal services.

“The Morrison government is committed to supporting legal aid services to ensure vulnerable Australians continue to have access to justice,” she said.

“Across Australia, we are working with states and territories through the NLAP to continually invest in these important services. We will provide more than $ 2.3 billion over 5 years for legal aid services across Australia under the NLAP. “

Legal Aid NSW CEO Brendan Thomas said the demand for DVU advice more than doubled during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, and although the unit typically responds to around 1,000 calls per year , there had been over 6,000 calls in the 12 months for March 2021.

“Containment is about staying at home to protect yourself from COVID-19. But for the women we work with, home isn’t always a safe place, a fact that may have been exacerbated by mandatory closures and other necessary health restrictions, ”Thomas said.

“Our DVU is essential in helping victim-survivors seek protection orders, navigate the family law system, access support and safe housing, and seek financial counseling. “

For confidential advice, support and referrals, contact: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), The NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63) or Referral service for men (1300 766 491).

Download the press release: Record boost of $ 95 million for the legal aid sector

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