MEDIA RELEASE - Law Society Northern Territory backs National Legal Aid Funding Campaign
The Law Society Northern Territory today threw its support behind an unprecedented national ‘Legal Aid Matters’ campaign (http://legalaidmatters.org.au) aimed at ensuring the next Federal Government responds decisively to Australia’s legal aid funding crisis.
With rallies and events occurring in major cities in this national Law Week, the Legal Aid Matters campaign will bring a sharp focus to the funding crisis that crippling this vital justice safety net.
Tass Liveris (Society President) said that Australia’s legal aid system is in crisis and that justice is being denied to thousands of Australians each year.
“Successive federal governments have ripped hundreds of millions of dollars from legal aid, crippling this vital justice safety net,” Mr Liveris said.
“The system is now at a point where most Australians who can’t afford a lawyer simply won’t get one – in many cases even if they are below the poverty line.
“Australians are forced to represent themselves in court or, worse, ignore their legal issues. The crisis is ruining lives.
“Community legal centres are closing their doors or holding art auctions to stay afloat.
“It isn’t just Australia’s most disadvantaged missing out. Most are everyday Australians, people who are not wealthy and cannot afford to pay for legal representation.
Mr Liveris said that funding legal aid properly would actually save the taxpayer money according to the Productivity Commission which has recommended a $200 million injection of funding to avoid costlier problems from developing down the track.
“This makes further cuts to Community Legal Centres and The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services particularly concerning.
“Whichever party wins the July election will inherit a legal aid in crisis. We must convince the Parliament that legal aid funding is a critically urgent priority,” Mr Liveris said.
“Legal aid goes the heart of Australia’s notion of fairness and what kind of society we want to be. Is it one in which everyone has access to justice – or only those who can afford a lawyer?”
Australians can get involved and tell their local MP that legal aid matters by visiting the campaign website: legalaidmatters.org.au.
Please click here for the full release.