Indigenous law and justice

Budget Review 2013–14 Index

Diane Spooner

The Attorney-General’s Portfolio budget statements 2013-14, Program 1.5: Indigenous Law and Justice,[1] has an increase in expenses for this Program of $6.0 million per year in 2013-14 and 2014-15 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services. The aim of this Program is to improve access to justice for Indigenous people through the provision of services.[2]

This increase in expenses reflects the additional budget measure Legal assistance —expansion of funding. This measure is set out in Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2013-14 where the Government will provide $42.0 million over two years for legal assistance services.[3] Funding of $15.0 million in each of the next two years will be provided to state and territory legal aid commissions, and funding of $6.0 million in each year will be provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services.[4]

However, it is not clear if this additional funding is included in the budget amounts listed for Indigenous legal aid and policy reform ($73.8 million in 2013-2014—up from $68.2 million in 2012‑2013).[5]

In his speech outlining access to justice measures in the Budget, the Attorney-General said that the $12 million of new funding will allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services to:

[b]uild on the recent increase in Commonwealth funding for family law and child protection matters and to respond to expensive and complex criminal cases.[6]

Further details on legal aid and community legal services can be found in the Legal Aid brief.

[2].       Ibid.

[3].       Australian Government, ‘Part 2: Expense measures’, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2013-14, accessed 16 May 2013.

[4].       Ibid., p. 90.

[5].       Portfolio budget statements 2012-2013, Attorney-General’s Portfolio, op. cit., p. 30. Prior to 2010-2011, payments were made for ‘the provision of legal aid for Indigenous Australians’ and also for ‘the provision of law and justice advocacy services for Indigenous Australians’. As noted by the Attorney-General’s Department: Legal Aid for Indigenous Australians and the Law and Justice Advocacy and Development Programs were combined during the [2010-11] year to create the Indigenous Legal Assistance and Policy Reform Program’: Attorney-General’s Department, Annual report 2010-11, p. 87.  

[6].       M Dreyfus QC (Attorney-General), Increasing access to justice because ‘everyone deserves a fair go’, media release, 14 May 2013, accessed 16 May 2013.

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