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 Programme 1.5: Indigenous law and justice

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Programme objective

This programme contributes to Outcome 1 by protecting and promoting the rule of law and building a safe, secure and resilient Australia.

Programme deliverables

Provide services to support access to justice for Indigenous people.

Achievements contributing to programme deliverables

Native title anthropology

The department provides access to justice for Indigenous people through the Native Title Anthropologist Grants Program which provides training, professional development and support to anthropologists and strengthens the linkages between academic and applied anthropological work.

Indigenous Legal Assistance Programme

The department funds Indigenous legal assistance providers to deliver high-quality, culturally-appropriate legal services. The department revised funding arrangements under the Indigenous Legal Assistance Programme to align with broader legal assistance reforms, including a requirement to participate in jurisdictional collaborative service planning processes and the development of a new funding allocation model to ensure equitable distribution of funds.

The department implemented a targeted approach to funding, based on an assessment of current service delivery arrangements and future needs of each jurisdiction. Service providers which had demonstrated their ability to deliver services at a satisfactory level and meet accountability requirements were offered five-year agreements, to facilitate longer-term service planning and funding certainty. Two service providers were offered one-year agreements, with an option to extend, and the department has committed to working closely with these providers to build their capacity to meet all requirements of the programme. In Tasmania, the department held an open funding round, to test the market and ensure that the best service delivery arrangements were in place. This resulted in the appointment of a new service provider.

Evaluations and reviews

Evaluation of the Native Title Anthropologist Grants Program

The department engaged Nous Group to assist in understanding whether the programme is increasing the availability of anthropologists for native title work, with a view to minimising delays in claims associated with anthropology evidence. The department will use the evaluation in considering whether any changes to the programme are required and as a basis for regular monitoring of the programme’s effectiveness.

Results against key performance indicators

Key performance indicator

Improved access to justice for Indigenous people


2014–15: Achieved

2013–14: Achieved

Legal assistance services improve access to justice for Indigenous Australians. In 2014–15 Indigenous legal assistance providers delivered assistance in 87,658 cases, acted as duty lawyer in 27,682 matters and provided 100,003 advices.

The priority for assistance is criminal law matters, which made up 80 per cent of matters in 2014–15. Assistance was also delivered in civil law matters (12 per cent) and family law matters (8 per cent). Of 215,343 total clients, approximately 19.7 per cent were 24 years of age or younger.

During 2014–15 recipients used funding under the Native Title Anthropologist Grants Program to deliver targeted native title training or work placements. For example, James Cook University delivered a Native Title Master Class, La Trobe University continued to fund masters research candidates specialising in native title anthropology, and the Australian National University’s Centre for Native Title Anthropology provided a centralised mailing list and contact point for the native title anthropologist profession.

Key performance indicator

Effective administration of the access to justice programmes for Indigenous people


2014–15: Achieved

2013–14: Trend information is not available as this is a new key performance indicator introduced in the 2014–15 Portfolio Budget Statements

In 2014–15, the department administered $75.161m in legal assistance funding through the Indigenous Legal Assistance Programme. This funding supported the delivery of legal assistance services by eight Indigenous legal assistance providers, as well as programme support services.

The Australian National Audit Office conducted a performance audit during 2014–15, which assessed the effectiveness of the department’s administration of the Indigenous Legal Assistance Programme. The department received a favourable report, with one recommendation—to strengthen the focus on performance by further developing the programme’s performance measurement and reporting framework. This recommendation has been implemented as part of the reforms to legal assistance funding arrangements.

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