The use of Commonwealth funding provided under this Agreement by legal aid commissions and community legal centres should be broadly consistent with the principles and service priorities set out in this Schedule, where applicable.
Commonwealth funding should be directed to the delivery of front-line services and focused on meeting the legal needs of priority clients.
Commonwealth funding should not be used to lobby governments or to engage in public campaigns. Lobbying does not include community legal education or where a legal assistance service provider makes a submission to a government or parliamentary body to provide factual information and/or advice with a focus on systemic issues affecting access to justice.
Legal assistance service providers should deliver timely intervention services to resolve clients’ legal problems sooner, or prevent them from arising altogether.
Family or civil law disputes should be resolved through alternative dispute resolution processes rather than through litigation, where appropriate.
Legal assistance service providers should consider whether other services (legal as well as non‑legal) may be relevant to a client’s needs and make referrals to these services where appropriate. Suitable collaborative arrangements should be established for this purpose.
Family law priorities
Family law services should focus on:
- matters involving allegations of family violence;
- matters where the safety or welfare of children are at risk;
- matters involving complex issues about the living arrangements, relationships and financial support of children; and
- assisting people with property settlement matters if they are experiencing financial disadvantage or are at risk of homelessness.
For legal aid commissions, the representation of children in family law proceedings and family dispute resolution processes should also be a focus.
Civil law priorities
Legal assistance service providers should focus on assisting people with civil law problems that are likely to have a significant adverse impact if not resolved. For example, where there are implications for a person’s safety, health and wellbeing, access to government benefits and pensions, or homelessness status.
Key Commonwealth civil law areas are listed below (in alphabetical order):
- bankruptcy matters;
- consumer law matters;
- employment matters;
- extradition matters;
- human rights and anti-discrimination matters;
- insurance law matters;
- migration matters; and
- social security law matters (including matters relating to military entitlements and military compensation claims).
The list of Commonwealth civil law areas is for guidance only. Legal assistance service providers should consider how to best meet civil law need collectively (arising from Commonwealth or State laws), within available resources.
Legal assistance service providers should respond collectively to emerging civil law issues identified through service planning, such as providing legal help for victims of natural disasters.
Commonwealth criminal law priorities
Commonwealth criminal law services should focus on:
- matters where the defendant is a child;
- matters where the defendant is being charged with a criminal offence for which a sentence of imprisonment is likely to apply should the defendant be found guilty; and
- assisting persons being detained in custody.
Special circumstances of the applicant priorities
Cases requiring a grant of aid involving special circumstances such as a language or literacy problem, intellectual, psychiatric or physical disability; a person's remote locality making it difficult to obtain legal assistance or where the person would otherwise be at risk of social exclusion.
Cases requiring a grant of aid where the applicant is a child or the applicant is appointed under the Crimes Act 1914 to question a child complainant or child witness, should be considered a priority.