Attorney-General George Brandis has announced that $25.5 million of proposed cuts to frontline legal assistance services will not go ahead. This includes restoring funding of $11.5 million for Indigenous legal assistance over the next two years. This announcement provides much needed relief for the most vulnerable in our community and the restoration of funding provides a level of much needed certainty for organisations operating within the legal assistance sector.
ATSILS welcomes the responsible approach taken by the Federal Government to reverse the massive cuts which would have had dire impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We thank the Attorney General for listening to the widespread concerns expressed by the legal fraternity, community services sector and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
ATSILS pays tribute to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services around the nation and the vital work of our peak body NATSILS in bringing widespread attention to the serious social and economic consequences that would have resulted from the proposed cuts. The value of our highly specialized services has been advocated by many and we thank our committed staff, the broader legal fraternity and community services sector for their support throughout an extended period of uncertainty.
Whilst we celebrate the level of relief this news brings, were are ever mindful of the crisis rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment and family violence currently gripping the nation. There is plenty more critical work to be done to change culture and address these national crises. In face of this we join the national call for the Government to heed the Productivity Commission’s Access to Justice Arrangements report which called for a further $200m investment into the legal assistance sector, including the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services.
In the meantime we continue to get on with what we do best – providing innovative, professional and culturally competent legal services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Queensland.
NATSILS MEDIA RELEASE: NATSILS welcomes the reversal of funding cuts
Attorney General’s MEDIA RELEASE: Legal aid funding assured to support the most vulnerable in our community