Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee - Access to Legal Services
RLC prepared a submission for the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee’s inquiry into Access to Legal Services, which examined the extent and adequacy of legal assistance services available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals. Our position is that current access to legal services is not sufficient to meet the pressing legal needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
RLC highlighted a number of causes throughout the submission, including the limited funding available to legal service providers and over-policing leading to an overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals within the criminal justice system.
RLC also reemphasised the overall economic benefit of adequate legal assistance services, in particular highlighting the success of the Medical – Legal Partnership recently established at RPA. Partnerships such as this assist in addressing legal needs which contribute to complex health issues, not only assisting vulnerable individuals but also reducing overall costs on the health system.
Overall, RLC recommended the Commonwealth increase funding to legal assistance services, consistent with the recommendation of the Productivity Commission.