Australia’s New National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance
23 Pages Posted: 3 May 2013
Date Written: June 16, 2011
On 2 July 2010, the new Australian National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services (NPA) commenced. The agreement between the federal and state governments was promoted by government as a break from the past. The key features of the Agreement include an increased focus on early intervention and prevention services and encouraging greater collaboration among legal and other service providers.
In this article I outline the current legal aid system, give some context to the agreement and the detail aspects of the NPA. I then survey what changes (if any) have occurred in the Australian legal aid system during the first twelve months of the Agreement. In this context I canvas the tensions between early intervention (often alternative dispute resolution), prevention services (community legal education) and traditional legal aid casework. I conclude with some observations about matters that require research and ongoing evaluation if those concerned with access to justice, both proponents of ADR and legal aid lawyers, wish to further their objectives. Most importantly, in recognition of the complex and paradoxical nature of access to justice developments, these evaluations must be rigorous and contextualized.
Keywords: Australian Legal Aid, alternative dispute resolution, preventative legal services
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