Queensland Law Society has called on the Federal Government to consider allocating money seized from national crime operators to fund legal assistance services and provide greater access to justice for all Australians.
QLS, in its recently released 2022 Federal Election Call to Parties Statement, said it was imperative the Australian Government dedicate itself to making the federal justice system more accessible.
“This means ensuring everyone receives appropriate advice and assistance, no matter how they enter the justice system,” the statement reads.
QLS has written to all of the federal political parties taking part in the upcoming 21 May election and asked them to commit to a myriad of issues designed to make access to justice fair for all, in particular the most disadvantaged and marginalised members of the community.
The Call to Parties Statement, prepared by the QLS legal policy team in consultation with QLS legal policy committees, canvasses the views of the political parties and candidates on the issues perceived to be critical to the effective delivery of justice to the Australian community.
In relation to making justice more accessible, QLS has proposed using the proceeds of crime to fund the struggling assistance agencies such as legal aid and community legal services.
“QLS calls for a commitment to investigate allocating money seized from proceeds of crime actions as an additional ongoing funding source for legal assistance services,” the statement says.
The QLS also calls on federal parties for commitments to:
- increase the level of federal legal assistance funding by an additional $300-400 million per annum across criminal, civil and family law matters
- ensure funding for legal assistance services is determined by a transparent and evidence-based model that is adequate, predictable, sustainable and long-term, and that the eligibility tests for services, including means tests, are appropriate
- increase the Government’s contribution to NLAP funding by 20% per annum for at least five years, with a requirement that the Queensland state government matches this contribution
- improve the delivery of legal services to regional, rural and remote areas through dedicated and long-term funding solutions, including investigation of funding for programs to encourage solicitors to take up employment in rural, regional and remote communities
- introduce ‘justice impact tests’ and/or pipeline funding models to ensure that laws and policies that have downstream impacts on the justice system are identified, and that adequate resourcing is provided to justice system agencies to manage the impacts
- fund specialist consumer credit debt legal assistance services in Queensland
- maintain COVID-19 frontline service delivery and information technology funding
- conduct a review into the barriers to access to justice, such as access to affordable housing, healthcare and other support services, and to implement the recommendations of this review.
QLS, the peak professional membership body for solicitors in Queensland, represents more than 13,000 solicitors across the state, and advocates for good law and supports good lawyers in Queensland.