POLITICS

Turnbull To Restore Most But Not All Funding To Community Legal Services

It will be announced today at a national domestic violence summit in Brisbane.

28/10/2016 5:49 AM AEDT | Updated 28/10/2016 5:49 AM AEDT
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Alex Ellinghausen, Fairfax
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the violence must stop

CANBERRA – The Turnbull Government is returning $30 million in funding to front-line community legal services taken since the Coalition came to power in 2013 as its latest response to Australia's domestic violence crisis.

The funding allocation is not new money, but is part of the $100 million announced by Turnbull soon after he toppled Tony Abbott as Prime Minister and will be presented Friday at the Council of Australia Governments (COAG) domestic violence summit in Brisbane.

"The violence must stop," Malcolm Turnbull declared, citing family violence figures which showed 100 women were killed last year or were victims of attempted murder.

The Prime Minister also noted the terrible statistic that nearly 1.5 million women in Australia have experienced sexual assault since the age of fifteen.

"Domestic violence hurts us all," he said. "It ruins the lives of individuals, destroys families and breaks communities."

However, the new funding allocation does not quite restore the $35 million taken since 2013 from community legal centres, which are due to face a further 30 percent funding cut next July.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal service and legal aid services have also experienced cuts and it is claimed clients, including domestic violence victims, have been turned away in their thousands.

The $30 million, promised last year, now includes specific resources for family law courts and family relationship centres and is broken down thus;

  • $18.5 million for integrated duty lawyer and social support services in family law courts
  • $6.2 million to pilot enhanced models of family dispute resolution for vulnerable families
  • $5 million for an extra year of the legal assistance pilots under the Women's Safety Package
  • $0.3 million for data analysis in the legal assistance sector

State and territory leaders agreed last December to hold the summit to prevent violence against women and children.

The theme for the summit is "Connect.Act.Change" and will focus on "fostering new and innovative partnerships."

The Turnbull Government will also announce it is extending, by a year, the pilots announced last year for 12 specialist domestic violence units and five health justice partnerships.

The Prime Minister insists the services are working due to their integrated, case-management approach.

"We are delivering the leadership, policies and resourcing that is required to keep women and children in Australia safe," Turnbull said.

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