Victorian sector provides feedback on the National Legal Assistance Partnership

February 19, 2024 |

The current, five-year National Legal Assistance Partnership (NLAP), which sets out Commonwealth Government funding to Community Legal Centres and other legal assistance providers, will expire in mid-2025. A review of the partnership has been undertaken to make recommendations for funding principles and allocations in the next NLAP cycle. 

At the end of last year, the Federation welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback on the NLAP on behalf of Victorian Community Legal Centres. Our submission was based on seven Federation consultations with more than 70 representatives from across the Victorian CLC sector. 

The submission made 47 recommendations, including: 

  • Adequately funding a national study to measure legal need in Australia, noting that future studies should draw upon the findings from the Victorian Law Foundation's PULS as the most contemporary assessment of legal need and legal capability in Australia. 
  • Benchmarking higher salaries for regional, rural and remote (RRR) Community Legal Centre staff, to incentivise lawyers and acknowledge the higher operating costs for RRRs to meet critical service gaps. 
  • Increasing baseline funding under NLAP to cover the real costs of running an organisation, including wages, learning and development, data collection and the core work of Community Legal Centres – integrated services, advocacy and legal education. 
  • Committing to NLAP funding contract terms of at least five and preferably seven years in length. This would give legal assistance providers the certainty they need to plan efficiently and retain staff. 
  • Committing to appropriate indexation and increased funding for the sector, to enable Community Legal Centres to respond to growing demand, population growth and any unforeseen changes in demand or input prices. 
  • Investing in increasing salaries and benefits for Community Legal Centres to address wage inequity between the public service/legal aid commissions and Community Legal Centres. 
  • Adequately funding the implementation of a modern, consistent data system that would improve capability to measure impact. We support CLCs Australia in their proposal to act as the custodian of sector data for reporting and analysis purposes. 
  • Providing ongoing core funding to enable disaster legal service providers to deliver timely, specialised legal advice to disaster-impacted individuals and communities during and after a crisis. 

In addition to the recommendations outlined in our submission, we recommend the Reviewer supports the submission of CLCs Australia. We also recommend the submissions from others in the Victorian legal assistance sector, other CLC state peaks, and Victoria’s two Aboriginal Legal Services.  These submissions can be found on the NLAP Review website. 

The Federation works to support a community that is fair, inclusive and thriving, where every person belongs and can learn, grow, heal, participate and be heard. With the support of NLAP, this work will continue to flourish. 

You can read our submission here. 

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