Independent Review of the National Legal Assistance Partnership
The Law Council welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Review of the National Legal Assistance Partnership 2020–25 (NLAP). The following comments are in response to the matters raised in the Issues Paper dated August 2023.
Each of the three legal assistance services funded under the NLAP—Legal Aid Commissions (LACs), Community Legal Centres (CLCs) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (ATSILS)—play an important, unique and complementary role in providing legal help to people and communities across Australia. Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLSs), which are not currently funded through the NLAP framework, also play a critical role.
While recognising the profound impact these subsectors have on promoting access to justice to Australians and supporting those experiencing disadvantage, the Law Council’s submission emphasises the role of the private legal profession: solicitors and barristers have a key function in the delivery of publicly-funded legal services, most notably with respect to supporting complex legal problems that require representation and advocacy. The success of the publicly funded system’s delivery depends, to no small extent, on the continued commitment and efforts of the private profession—which occurs in addition to its substantial pro bono efforts. However, it must be viable for them to continue this work.