​Legal Aid boost for rural communities

Published date: Tuesday, 28 August 2018

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Legal Aid NSW services in the state’s North-West are to be significantly expanded with the opening of satellite offices in Bourke and Walgett, enhancing access to justice for disadvantaged people in the Orana and North-West of NSW.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the announcement reinforces the strong record of the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government of supporting access to justice in rural and regional areas. 

“In the face of increasing demand, the government’s own investment in Legal Aid has increased by 63 per cent since coming to government in 2011. These new services will ensure more disadvantaged people, including victims of domestic violence, are able to access legal representation,” Mr Speakman said. 

As well as opening permanent offices in Bourke and Walgett, two Aboriginal-identified community liaison officers have been employed, two additional lawyers will be employed out of Dubbo, and additional ongoing services in civil and family law are planned.

Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries said the regions to be serviced will include Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar, Coonamble, Lightning Ridge, Nyngan, Walgett, Warren and surrounding communities.

“These new services demonstrate strongly the Liberals and Nationals Government’s commitment to access to justice in regional and rural communities. This is a great win for communities in our electorate,” Mr Humphries said.

Legal Aid NSW will receive $289.4 million this financial year, an increase of $28.2 million, or 10.8 per cent, on the previous financial year. Of that total, the NSW Government is providing $174.5 million – an increase of 15.9 per cent on the previous financial year. 

Legal Aid NSW CEO Brendan Thomas said the expansion into the North-West follows extensive consultation with local communities.

“The satellite offices complement legal services being provided by the Aboriginal Legal Service, the Western NSW Community Legal Centre and Thiyama-li Family Violence Prevention Legal Service. We are planning to deliver ongoing services in criminal, civil and family law in the region,” Mr Thomas said.

Legal Aid NSW is the largest legal aid agency in Australia, including 24 locations and more than 200 regular outreach locations.