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You are here: Skip breadcrumbAttorney-General's Department >> Legal system >> Legal assistance programmes >> Commonwealth legal financial assistance >> Legal assistance for people engaging with the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements

 Legal assistance for people engaging with the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements has been established to inquire and make recommendations on government coordination of, response to and arrangements for dealing with national natural disasters.

Find out more about the Royal Commission, including the terms of reference and how to make a submission, on the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements website. 

On this page:

Check if you are eligible
Apply for legal financial assistance
Costs covered
Decision-making process

Check if you are eligible

Legal financial assistance may be provided to an entity, including an individual, for their reasonable legal representation and disbursement costs resulting from:

  • being called, or granted leave to appear, as a witness at a hearing of the Royal Commission, or
  • being requested to attend, or attending an interview of the Royal Commission, or
  • being requested to provide or complying with a notice to give information or a written statement that will be used as evidence of the Royal Commission, or
  • complying with a notice to produce issued by the Royal Commission, and
  • where the entity, excluding an individual, would not able to meet these costs without incurring serious financial hardship.

An 'entity' can be a person who is a volunteer or former volunteer of a state or territory fire or emergency service who is not representing that organisation.

If your organisation has been called by the Royal Commission, your organisation will be subject to an assessment of whether it can meet the cost of its legal representation without incurring serious financial difficulty. If you have been called in your personal capacity, you will be exempt from an assessment of financial circumstances.

Apply for legal financial assistance

To apply for assistance, download the application form below, and email a completed copy to finass@ag.gov.au with the required attachments:

If you can’t email your application, call Legal Financial Assistance Casework on 02 6141 4770 or 1800 117 995 between 8.30am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment, contact us through the National Relay Service and give 02 6141 4770 as the number you would like to call.

What financial information to include in an organisation’s application

An organisation must provide full details of its financial circumstances, including annual income from all sources, total value of assets and total balance of savings/shares. The organisation must attach supporting documentation (such as the last six months of bank statements, latest tax assessments, and/or annual financial statements) to the application. We treat all information you provide to us in confidence.

Costs covered

We will pay for reasonable legal representation and disbursement costs that you incur as a witness for the Royal Commission. These could include your solicitor's costs (such as attendance or preparation of documents) and disbursements (such as solicitor's travel, photocopying).

Refer to the Assessment of Costs document for detailed information of what is payable and at what rate.

More information about financial assistance is set out below in the Commonwealth Guidelines for Legal Financial Assistance 2012: Addendum for the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

Decision-making process

Assessment timeframes

Completed applications will be assessed within 21 days. Incomplete applications will not be assessed. You will be notified if your application is incomplete and requested to provide missing information.

If you receive less than 21 days' notice of appearing or attending an interview at the Royal Commission, the department will try to assess your application before the date of your appearance.

How payments are made

If a grant is approved, we will only pay after the work has been performed and you have made a claim to us. The Assessment of Costs sets the maximum amount that we can pay under grants:

Legal framework

The Commonwealth Guidelines for Legal Financial Assistance 2012 establish the Royal Commission and Inquiries scheme:

The operation of the guidelines is modified by the Commonwealth Guidelines for Legal Financial Assistance 2012: Addendum for the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements:

More information

For more information, refer to the Commonwealth Guidelines for Legal Financial Assistance 2012 and the above Addendum for the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

To contact Legal Financial Assistance Casework:

  • call  02 6141 4770 or 1800 117 995 (between 8:30am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday)
  • email finass@ag.gov.au

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment contact us through the National Relay Service and give 02 6141 4770 as the number you would like to call.

Other assistance

Office of the Royal Commission

Welfare and general enquiries

Welfare or general enquiries about bushfire recovery efforts can be directed to:

  • Lifeline’s dedicated 24 hour bushfire recovery support line on 13 HELP (13 43 57), or
  • National Bushfire Recovery Agency which lists key emergency contacts and support entities.

Community-based support services

We acknowledge topics of the Royal Commission may cause distress to people wishing to participate. If you feel that you or someone you know is at risk of harm to themselves or others, please call:

  • Lifeline Crisis Support on 13 11 14 (24 hours/7 days),
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or
  • In an emergency, call 000. ​