National Partnership Agreement On Legal Assistance Services
Since 1997, the Commonwealth has funded legal aid through the PPS, allowing the Commonwealth to identify priorities for which legal aid should be provided.  The role of legal aid commissions is to enable marginalized and economically disadvantaged Australians to access justice.  (Add mention). The following comments answer the questions raised in the discussion paper developed by Urbis on August 1, 2018. However, for a more complete picture of what could be done to support effective delivery of mutual legal assistance services in the future, the Justice Council refers to the final report of the justice project, namely its own national review of the Legal Council on the State of Access to Justice in Australia for the disadvantaged.  Australian Government, “National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services,” Op. cit., p. 10 and Schedule A. Although this issue was the subject of formal debate in the Permanent Council on Law and Justice (without agreement), the government stated that it did not believe that funding for prosecutions against human trafficking was no different from funding other types of Commonwealth crimes.
 The National Partnership defines legal assistance services as all sectoral legal service providers mentioned above.  On the other hand, legal aid services are defined as Commonwealth-funded legal aid services provided by legal aid commissions.  Figure 1 shows actual payments made for the provision of legal aid to states and territories between 1994 and 2095 and 2013-14.  Funding fluctuated for hours and increased by $17.2 million between 2010 and 2011, with fewer between 2011 and 2012. . These figures do not include funding for government and public legal aid commissions. Expenditures were calculated by adding a consistent set of budget items in Programs 1.3 and 1.5 of portfolio budget reports and annual reports of Attorneys General that fall under the category of legal assistance services (i.e. they are not provided by government and state judicial assistance commissions).
Given that a number of programs have evolved over time, the development of specific comparisons prior to 2009-10 is problematic and therefore not included. Spending on legal aid services (as defined in the National Partnership) has increased steadily over the past five years, from $140.8 million in 2009 to $167.4 million in the 2013-14 budget.  Successive Australian governments have signed up to these commitments, provided that democratic societies are supported by legally enforceable rights.  Access to justice is essential for these rights and obligations to become a reality.  There is a legal aid framework designed to give all Australians a basic right of access to legal advice and services, in order to address the premise that all are equal before the law: the legal aid sector helps people lead healthy and productive lives in our community. We act as a safety net, we help people navigate complex systems, we understand their rights and obligations, and we work with the community to prevent legal problems from getting into or worse. Since the 1996-97 reforms, states and territories have been responsible for funding issues arising from their laws, unless individuals` legal problems relate to a mixture of Commonwealth family law and public or territorial violence and/or child protection.  In 1996-97, the Australian government moved to a buyer-supplier model that makes a clear distinction between the responsibilities of national and territorial governments and those of the Commonwealth.