​​​​​​​
You are here: Skip breadcrumbAttorney-General's Department >> Publications >> Annual reports >> Annual report 2010-11 >> Chapter 8 - Civil Justice and Legal Services - administered programs

Chapter 8 - Civil Justice and Legal Services - administered programs

next page 

Civil Justice and Legal Services - administered programs

Program 1.3

Justice services

Summary

A major focus for 2010–11 has been to provide sufficient and effective resources for legal assistance services for disadvantaged Australians and communities. This has been achieved by:

  • implementing key initiatives under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services, with a focus on a more strategic approach to service delivery, including an increased focus upon early intervention and prevention services, and
  • allocating $154 million of additional funding over four years to legal aid in the 2010 Budget. This will help enhance and increase legal assistance services to ensure disadvantaged Australians can resolve disputes early and before they escalate and become entrenched.

Major achievements

Legal Assistance National Partnership

The National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services came into effect on 1 July 2010. The Agreement, which is for a period of four years, will enhance legal assistance service delivery through:

  • earlier resolution of legal problems for disadvantaged Australians that, when appropriate, avoids the need for litigation
  • more appropriate targeting of legal assistance services to people who experience, or are at risk of experiencing, social exclusion
  • increased collaboration and cooperation between legal assistance providers themselves and with other service providers to ensure clients receive ‘joined up’ service provision to address legal and other problems, and
  • a strategic national response to critical challenges and pressures affecting the legal assistance sector.

The Agreement provides legal aid commissions with greater flexibility in how they allocate Australian Government funds to deliver legal aid services. The changes mean that legal aid commissions can use Australian Government legal aid funds to deliver early intervention and prevention services irrespective of whether they are Commonwealth or State law matters. Commissions can also fund State child protection and family violence matters that are linked to a grant of assistance in Australian Government  family law.

The Legal Aid Program is working to implement key initiatives under the Agreement, including working with States and Territories to establish forums to consider opportunities for better coordination and targeting of legal assistance services within each State and Territory. The Department is also working with States and Territories and legal aid commissions on reporting against the performance benchmarks established by the Agreement.

Under the Agreement, the Australian Government will provide States and Territories with more than $785 million over four years to deliver Commonwealth legal aid services. This includes $92.3 million over four years in additional legal aid funding announced in the 2010–11 Budget.

The National Legal Assistance Advisory Body was established and the inaugural meeting was held in May 2011. The Advisory Body was established to advise the Government on the best way to deliver legal services to disadvantaged Australians and to help keep the justice system relevant to the community it serves.

In January 2011, the Australian Government provided an additional $200,000 in funding to help ensure Queenslanders affected by the floods had ready access to legal information and advice. This additional funding helped families access early and accurate information and advice and helped prevent legal problems from becoming more complicated as people start to rebuild their lives.

The Legal Aid Program also reimbursed costs of $9.495 million incurred by Legal Aid Commissions in expensive Commonwealth criminal cases (including illegal foreign fishing cases), so that the high cost of these did not affect the Commissions’ ability to provide services in other matters, such as family law. Pressure on funding from the Expensive Commonwealth Criminal Cases Fund is increasing because of costs in providing legal assistance in people smuggling prosecutions involving vessel crew, national security and drug related matters.

Community Legal Services Program

Service agreement and guidelines

New three-year Community Legal Services Program (CLSP) Service Agreements commenced on
1 July 2010. These define the obligations of each party and provide an accountability framework for the expenditure of public funds. The Commonwealth and States provide their CLSP funding to community legal centres under a joint agreement. The Agreement was negotiated between the Department, relevant States and the National Association of community legal centres.

In conjunction with the 2010–13 Agreement, revised CLSP Guidelines were put in place effective from 1 July 2010. The Guidelines set out the essential principals and obligations governing the management of the program and the delivery of services and reporting requirements.

State Program Management Agreements

New agreements were also put in place between the Commonwealth, relevant Legal Aid Commissions and the South Australian Attorney-General’s Department for the provision of State Program Manager services for the CLSP.

Outlook at 30 June 2011

The work of the Legal Aid Program will continue to focus on working with States and Territories to implement key initiatives under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services and supporting the work of the National Legal Assistance Advisory Body. Jurisdictional forums will improve the coordination and targeting of services. Information and referral strategies will be developed to ensure comprehensive access to legal assistance information.

The CLSP will commence seeking feedback from other service providers on the performance of individual Community Legal Centres. The survey will cover the accessibility and responsiveness of service delivery, the appropriateness and effectiveness of referrals and the Centres’ collaboration and cooperation with other service providers.

As funding agreements for community legal services and family violence prevention legal services enter  the second of their three year terms, the Department will, as part of its regular evaluation of its funded programs, commence a review of the programs and provide advice to the Government on the future direction of the programs. The Department will consult with relevant stakeholders as part of these reviews.

Performance results

Table 8: Performance results, Program 1.3

Key performance indicator Results
Improvement in access to education, information, advice and support services for disadvantaged Australians and communities Achieved
Comment: Community legal centres have continued to provide legal assistance and advice to disadvantaged Australians on a wide range of issues.

Table 9: Program 1.3

Administered items Results
Payments for services under the Family Law Act 1975 and the Child Support Scheme legislation Achieved

Comment: In accordance with individual agreements with the States, the Australian Government promotes an accessible system of federal civil justice by providing funds for services under the Family Law Act 1975 and Commonwealth child support legislation by State courts of summary jurisdiction.
Budget price: $1.223 million Actual price: $1.202 million
Payments to Law Courts Limited for contributions to operating and capital expenses Achieved

Comment: The Department pays 47.5 per cent of the operating expenses of the Law Courts building in Sydney.
Budget price: $9.702 million Actual price: $9.700 million
Family Court of Western Australia Achieved

Comment: The Government contributes to the operating expenses of the Family Court of Western Australia to ensure access to the Court in family law and child support matters.

In 2010–11, the Government provided an additional funding boost of $0.712 million to the Court to appoint an acting Magistrate to help address a backlog in family law matters.
Budget price: $21.690 million  Actual price: $21.386 million 
Payments for membership of international bodies Achieved

Comment: Funds provided in accordance with approved arrangements.
Budget price: $0.688 million Actual price: $0.656 million
Payments for grants to Australian organisations Achieved

Comment: 18 grants approved for 16 organisations.
Budget price: $1.438 million Actual price: $1.429 million
Payments for the provision of legal aid – legal aid commissions Achieved

Comment: Funding was provided from the Expensive Commonwealth Criminal Cases Fund and the Illegal Foreign Fishing Fund for 508 claims from legal aid commissions for reimbursement of costs incurred during expensive matters.
Budget price: $21.034 million Actual price: $10.197 million
Payments for the provision of community legal services1 Achieved

Comment: Payments made in accordance with the terms and conditions of the service agreement.
Budget price: $34.072 million Actual price: $34.072 million
Administered items Results
Financial assistance towards legal costs and related expenses Achieved

Comment: Funding was provided across a range of statutory and non-statutory schemes, including Native Title Respondent Funding, and Special Circumstances (Overseas) Schemes.
Budget price: $4.470 million Actual price: $4.350 million
Commonwealth Human Rights Education Program Achieved

Comment: Australia’s Human Rights Framework provided funding of $2.068 million over four years to non-government organisations to develop and deliver community education and engagement programs to promote greater understanding of human rights. The education grants program recipients were announced by the Attorney-General on 10 December 2010. A total of $250,000 was awarded to 15 projects across Australia.

Applications for the 2011–12 round were invited on 21 April 2011 and are currently under consideration.
Budget price: $0.350million Actual price: $0.351 million
Personal Property Securities – public awareness campaign Partially achieved

Comment: Preparations for the Personal Property Securities campaign continued throughout 2010–11 for launch later in 2011.
Budget price: $0.310 million Actual price: $0.230 million
Publications of Acts and select legislative instruments Achieved

Comment: In 2010–11, all new Acts and Select Legislative Instruments were printed and distributed free of charge to Members of the Australian Parliament and to key reference libraries worldwide. As a result of letters promoting the availability of material online, some recipients have agreed they no longer need print copies and print runs reduced by up to 50 copies during 2010–11.

In line with changes to the Acts Publication Act 1905 that came into force in January 2011, 190 Acts as made and 70 Acts as amended were published online in authoritative form after careful checking and editing. Long but popular titles now available in authoritative form include the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006.

The Department’s old website, ScalePlus, was decommissioned mid-year after all remaining data was migrated to ComLaw. This multi-year project involved transferring 14,000 records. Data that had been migrated in 2005 was also assessed for compliance with basic accessibility and search requirements, and remedial work completed on 19,600 records.

Work also began on filling known gaps in the online holdings of Commonwealth law. As part of this, scanning and research was undertaken for 200 Acts as made (all Acts made since 1973 are now available online), and more than 3500 Statutory Rules as made (all Statutory Rules made since 1979 are now available online).
Budget price: $1.556 million Actual price: $1.562 million
National specific purpose payments Results
Legal aid2 Achieved

Comment: The Commonwealth is providing funding under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services to the States and Territories for legal aid commissions so that they can provide legal assistance to disadvantaged people in accordance with Commonwealth policy priorities.
Budget price: $190.797 million Actual price: $190.797 million

Notes:

1. The Australian Government provided $34.072 million for the Commonwealth Community Legal Services Program in 2010–11, including additional one-off funding totalling $2.589 million.

2. Appropriation held and payments made by the Department of the Treasury as National Partnership Payments.


Our people

Foundations for funding Indigenous legal advice

providing culturally-appropriate assistance

The Department funds legal assistance for Indigenous Australians under its goal of improving access to justice. Providing culturally-appropriate assistance empowers Indigenous people to understand their rights, while also helping to reduce over-representation in the prison system.

Service providers in this area must respond to clients’ unique needs. Over 88 per cent of providers are located in regional, rural and remote communities. Around 40 per cent of their clients are aged 25 years and under. Client requests for legal assistance often raise interconnected issues such as health, housing, substance abuse, relationship and financial difficulties.

When the previous contracts with service providers expired, the Department decided to review the guidelines and funding arrangements underpinning this program. Rose Beynon, Dan Ticehurst, Julia Felton and other members of their team conducted this review.

‘One of the main challenges we faced was aligning the review to major changes in the policy environment, including the National Indigenous Law and Justice Framework (2009–2015) and the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services (2010),’ Rose says.

The review has yielded immediate gains. New program guidelines give service providers greater flexibility to use funds for early intervention work, and to tailor their approach to the unique circumstances of each community.

The review also mapped out changes for longer-term improvements. A quality framework will enhance service providers’ governance, financial management and level of service delivery. New accountability measures will be linked to risk, with low-risk organisations benefiting from reduced reporting. ‘Getting the balance right by removing red tape while maintaining essential checks and balances is crucial for good program administration,’ says Rose.


 

Program 1.4

Family relationships

Summary

During 2010–11, the Government provided $154.6 million to 72 not-for-profit community based organisations, one business, and one agency (Centrelink), to assist Australian families during and after separation and divorce.

The 11 service types are:

  • 65 Family Relationship Centres, with 63,236 clients
  • 65 children’s contact services, with 38,163 clients
  • 40 counselling services, with 103,852 clients[2]
  • 20 Parenting Orders Program services, with 8457 clients
  • 28 Post Separation Cooperative Parenting services, with 6522 clients
  • 18 Family Dispute Resolution services, with 14,864 clients
  • 42 Regional Family Dispute Resolution services, with 6629 clients
  • 18 Supporting Children after Separation Program services, with 12,023 clients
  • the Family Relationship Advice Line, with 65,959 callers
  • the Telephone Dispute Resolution Service, with 19,758 callers, and
  • the Legal Advice Service, with 4752 callers.

The high level of uptake shows the services are meeting the program objective of ‘availability of
non-legislative systems and programs that provide access to fair, simple and effective assistance for family matters’.

Major achievements

Family relationships

Major achievements during 2010–11 included development of an online dispute resolution initiative through the Telephone Dispute Resolution Service. This innovative project has created interest in both Australia and overseas. Clients can now conduct family dispute resolution through the Telephone Dispute Resolution Service, either by phone or online using a telephone relay service. Online family dispute resolution is another non face-to-face way to help families going through separation and divorce to make agreements on parenting arrangements when they might have difficulty accessing traditional face-to-face services.

The Department has developed a family violence training package – AVERT: Addressing Violence Education Resources and Training – for all staff working in the family law system. The package is available electronically and in print and has proven very popular – 360 packages have been distributed to service providers throughout the family law system. This important initiative will assist the Department to meet its deliverable of ‘improved outcomes for families and children at risk of family and domestic violence through better support services and alternative dispute resolution options’.

During 2010–11, the number of family law pathways networks funded by the Department increased from 25 to 36 and now cover all of Australia. These networks strengthen the family law system at the community level, assist service providers in helping separated families have better relationships, and effectively build relationships with legal professionals to achieve a more integrated and collaborative family law system.

Family Support Program

The Department funds family law-related services through what was the Family Relationship Services Program. This Program is now known as the family law services stream of the Family Support Program. The Program brings together a number of existing family, children and parenting services (most of which are funded through the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio) with a common purpose to provide more flexibility, while making sure the important elements of the current programs are retained.

The Family Support Program will work with and support families, and nurture children, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. It will enable families to better manage life’s transitions, ensure children at risk are protected and contribute to building stronger, more resilient communities.

Purchaser/provider arrangements

The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs manages contractual arrangements with organisations funded to provide family law services under the Family Support Program. New three year funding agreements have been signed with existing organisations to provide the full range of family law services from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2014.

Evaluations/reviews

During 2010–11, a review was undertaken into Family Relationship Centres and their legal assistance partnerships. Since December 2009, 64 Family Relationship Centres have partnered with 77 legal assistance services to provide early and targeted legal information and advice to families. The Australian Institute of Family Studies was commissioned to evaluate the progress of these partnerships in their first 12 months.

The evaluation shows that the partnerships are functioning well with high levels of collaboration and enthusiasm amongst staff from Family Relationship Centres, community legal centres and legal aid commissions.

The majority of clients have reported positive experiences of their engagement with Family Relationship Centres, with about a third attributing their positive outcomes to the operation of the partnerships.

The evaluation found that providing this targeted legal advice at an early stage can improve the likelihood of couples agreeing to lasting arrangements and reduce the number of couples proceeding to court to settle their dispute.

The report is available on the Department website at <http://ag.aglink.ag.gov.au>.

Outlook at 30 June 2011

During 2011–12, the Department will develop a common screening and assessment framework to identify clients who are at risk of harm, including the currency and extent of the risk. All clients entering the family law system will be screened consistently to identify risk of harm at the earliest stage. It will ensure that regardless of their entry point, clients receive access to the range of information and referral options that are available to meet their needs. A training package about the use of the framework will also be produced.

Other priorities include developing a common referral protocol for services to use and developing a glossary of commonly used terms in the family law system.

From July 2011, Family Relationship Centres will be able to charge fees for the second and third hour of dispute resolution for clients earning above $50,000 a year. There will also be a commensurate 2 per cent reduction in funding for the Centres, as well as a similar reduction for some other family law services, under the Family Support Program. The Government will monitor the performance of these family law services to see whether these changes affect their performance.

Performance results

Table 10: Performance results, Program 1.4

Key performance indicators Results
Increased availability and usage rates of alternative dispute resolution services by families and children at risk of family and domestic violence Achieved

Comment: This key performance indicator has been achieved through the commencement of Coordinated Family Dispute Resolution pilots.

Table 11: Program 1.4

Administered items Results
Family Relationships Services Programs Achieved
Budget price: $165.170 million Actual price: $161.166 million

Our people

Modernising our intercountry adoption program with Ethiopia

finding families for children who are truly in need

Over the past 12 months, the Attorney-General’s Department has re-established Australia’s intercountry adoption program with Ethiopia to ensure it promotes an ethical, child-focused process that helps Australian families to provide safe, secure and loving homes for children in need.

‘We’ve taken a hands-on approach to re-establishing the program,’ says Kerri-Ann Smith, a Principal Legal Officer from the Marriage and Intercountry Adoption Branch. ‘We’ve worked actively with overseas partners to increase program safeguards by requiring each child referred to the program undergo a comprehensive background assessment, which includes confirming that birth families understand the nature of relinquishment and adoption. This helps us to ensure we are finding families for children who are truly in need.’

For Natalie Maddern, a Senior Legal Officer with the Branch, the new program has had further benefits for the Ethiopian community. ‘Under the new structure, the program contributes to community assistance projects targeting children and their families,’ she says. ‘This might include, for example, providing overnight shelters for street children, family reunification services, or skills training for adolescents and single mothers. It’s terrific to know that our program will not only help Australian families provide homes to Ethiopian children, but will also help to reunite families within Ethiopia.’

Following the appointment of a new Australian Representative to Ethiopia earlier this year, the program is now fully operational and children are currently being matched with Australian families. But the work doesn’t end there for Kerri-Ann, Natalie and their colleagues.

‘Every day in intercountry adoption throws forward another unusual and often emotionally charged situation for us to consider,’ says Kerri-Ann. ‘We will continue to be closely involved in the program as we are always striving to do things better.’


 

Program 1.5

Indigenous law and justice

Summary

The objective of Program 1.5 is to improve Indigenous family and community safety. Work under this program for 2010–11 included:

  • administering the Indigenous Justice Program, the Indigenous Legal Assistance and Policy Reform Program, and the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Program, and
  • successfully delivering the Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory law and order measures, and additional support for Indigenous interpreter services in the Northern Territory.

Major achievements

Indigenous Justice Program

In 2010–11, major achievements for the Indigenous Justice Program were:

  • introducing service delivery standards to increase quality of services being delivered to Indigenous Australians and reduce adverse contact with the criminal justice system
  • supporting projects to reduce petrol sniffing and substance abuse for Indigenous youth in designated remote regions, and
  • supporting justice-focused projects that helped reduce recidivism and incarceration. This was demonstrated by the success of the West Cairns Youth Prevention and Diversion project, which received a 2010 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Award. This project supports Indigenous young people who are at risk of criminal activities or recidivism and helps them to achieve their full potential. The project has successfully helped 70 per cent of participants to not reoffend.

Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory law and order measures

In 2010–11, major achievements for the Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory law and order measures were:

  • supporting Memorandums of Understanding between Night Patrol Service providers and the Northern Territory Police. These clarify the different roles and responsibilities of the local police and night patrollers, enabling a coordinated and complementary response to supporting community safety outcomes
  • providing $3.4 million for Sworn Community Engagement Officers. These officers will focus on community engagement to build trust and confidence in the justice system and to strengthen local safety and security. The officers will audit and map criminal activity in local communities, identify factors for offending, identify responses needed to address identified criminal activity and liaise with relevant agencies to follow-up on the provision of services
  • funding three community legal centres under the Northern Territory Emergency Response allocation
  • allocating an additional $750,000 to progress recommendations identified in the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report, Talking in language: Indigenous language interpreters and government communication. Indigenous interpreters play a vital role in working to achieve the Government’s goal of redressing disadvantage between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The additional funding will expand user training, provide specialist legal training for interpreters and accreditation processes, and
  • funding the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Program.

In 2010–11, the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Program had further funding of $1.142 million approved for seven early intervention and prevention projects across Australia. This funding will allow the projects to continue their activities into 2011–12. The projects will raise community awareness about family violence and promote positive strategies to help people who are exposed to violence. The projects will also work with communities and in schools to raise awareness about the issue, increase the resilience of children and others exposed to family violence, and promote positive strategies to achieve change. The grants range from $45,000 to $330,000 and will assist communities in rural and remote locations.

Legal Aid for Indigenous Australians and the Law and Justice Advocacy and Development Programs were combined during the year to create the Indigenous Legal Assistance and Policy Reform Program. The amalgamation brought together funding for legal assistance, law reform, community legal education and program development, and streamlined administration and reporting requirements. The Indigenous Legal Aid and Policy Reform Program provided funding to eight service providers in mostly regional, rural and remote locations across Australia. In 2010–11, additional funding of $7.9 million was implemented, bringing total funding for the eight service providers to $62.052 million.

The Department consulted with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services from February to May 2011 on new funding arrangements post 30 June 2011. The consultation process involved face-to-face meetings and opportunities for services to provide written feedback throughout the period. The services provided input to and support for the changed arrangements, including more streamlined reporting and accountability requirements, greater flexibility in determining how and where services will be provided, and implementation of a quality framework. Funding agreements for 2011–2014 were offered in late June 2011.

The Indigenous Women’s Program is a specialist service under the Commonwealth Community Legal Services Program. In 2010–11, $1.1 million was provided to eight community legal centres to help address the particular legal needs affecting Indigenous women through the provision of legal information, legal advice, casework, and community legal education. Additional funding was provided in 2010–11 to further help victims of family violence by, for example, lodging victims’ compensation claims and helping to pay for associated upfront costs such as medical reports, and providing legal and related support to victims to ensure their rights are protected.

The Department announced the Native Title Anthropologist Grants Program on 28 May 2010. The Program will provide $1.4 million in grants over the first three years through annual funding rounds. It seeks to attract a new generation of junior anthropologists to native title work and encourage senior anthropologists to remain within the system.

Indigenous Legal Assistance and Policy Reform Program

The Indigenous Legal Assistance and Policy Reform Program provides funding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services for high quality, culturally sensitive legal assistance services including duty lawyers, advice, case work and representation in criminal, civil and family law matters. The majority of service outlets (88 per cent) are located in regional, rural and remote locations. Outreach service models are employed to ensure legal assistance services are available at court circuits and bush courts. The Program assists young Indigenous Australians, with almost half of its clients (approximately 40 per cent) aged 25 years and under.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Safe Communities Strategy

Work is continuing across government to deliver an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Safe Communities Strategy, building on three existing national frameworks on law and justice, child protection and violence. The aim of the Strategy is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and families are safe in their families and communities. Actions under the Strategy will be interlinked with the actions being taken by Australia’s governments – in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and individuals to realise the broader Closing the Gap agenda.

Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Program

The Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Program provides funding to help Indigenous adults and children who are victims or survivors of family violence, including sexual assault, or who are at immediate risk of such violence. Funding is also provided for early intervention and prevention projects.

The Program is delivered through a number of service providers to 31 identified high-need service areas in rural and remote areas. Services include legal advice and casework assistance, child protection and support, counselling to victims of family violence and sexual assault, information, support and referral, community engagement, law reform and advocacy, and community legal education. In 2010–11, the program saw some innovations in administration with the introduction of three-year funding agreements, block budgeting and six-monthly reporting.

Evaluations/reviews

Prisoner Through Care initiatives funded under the Indigenous Justice Program were evaluated during the year to determine the impact and effectiveness of projects in addressing the over-representation of Indigenous Australians in the criminal justice system.

Three firms were engaged to undertake the evaluation and consultants visited the service providers as well as key stakeholders, including clients, correctional staff and other community organisations. The Department has provided each service provider with a copy of the evaluation report and will publish a summary of the findings.

Chapter 12 contains details on the Australian National Audit Office performance audit of the Northern Territory Night Patrols, and the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s investigation into the use of Indigenous interpreters.

Outlook at 30 June 2011

The Department will continue to fund initiatives under the Indigenous Justice Program, which improve safety in Indigenous communities by focusing on reducing recidivism.

Work will also continue to strengthen night patrol service provision, as well as whole-of-government work on Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory to determine post-Northern Territory Emergency Response arrangements. The Department will also focus on implementing the recommendations from the Australian National Audit Office performance audit and introducing an enhanced performance management framework to support better data collection.

Performance results

Table 12: Performance results, Program 1.5

Key performance indicator Results
Identifiable progress in improving community and family safety of Indigenous Australians Partially achieved
Community and family safety for Indigenous Australians remains an area of considerable concern, however identifiable progress has been achieved in a number of areas including:
  • employing 12 community engagement officers in the Northern Territory
  • successfully managing night patrols in 80 Northern Territory communities
  • providing $200,000 to help develop Community Safety Plans in Doomadgee and Mornington Island in Queensland
  • funding initiatives designed to reduce re-offending under the Indigenous Law and Justice program, and
  • continuing development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Safe Communities Strategy.
Improved access to appropriate legal services for Indigenous Australians Achieved
Comment: Grants made to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services and Community Legal Services helped improve access to legal assistance for Indigenous Australians. Additional funding was provided to the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service to enhance access to legal services.

Table 13: Program 1.5

Administered items Results
Payments under the Indigenous Justice Program Achieved

Comment: Funds were provided for 48 projects, including Petrol Sniffing Strategy projects, across four funding streams: youth prevention and diversion, prisoner through care, restorative justice and community patrols.
Budget price: $12.394 million1 Actual price: $12.394 million1
Payments for the provision of family violence prevention legal services for Indigenous Australians Achieved

Comment: Payments were made through funding agreements with approved service providers which delivered services to 31 high need areas in rural and remote Australia. Early intervention and prevention activities were also funded.
Budget price: $19.500 million Actual price: $19.491 million
Indigenous Legal Aid and Policy Reform Program Achieved

Comment: Payments were made through contracts with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service providers and grants for expensive case matters, program development and community legal education in accordance with funding guidelines.
Budget price: $64.611 million Actual price: $64.611 million
Payments for Indigenous interpreter services in the Northern Territory Achieved

Comment: Funding provided to the Northern Territory Government for interpreter services to Indigenous Australians.
Budget price: $1.233 million Actual price: $1.233 million
Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory law and order measures Achieved

Comment: Funding provided for night patrol services and additional legal and interpreter services as part of the Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory National Partnership.
Budget price: $27.626 million Actual price: $27.625 million
Native title system Achieved

Comment: Funding was provided to the Australian National University School of Archaeology and Anthropology and ANU Enterprise under the Native Title Anthropologist Grants Program.
Budget price: $0.742 million Actual price: $0.742 million

Note 1: includes additional one-off funding approved in June 2011 for prisoner through care programs.


Our people

Resolving native title claims faster

improve outcomes for native title parties

The number of native title claims resolved has increased significantly recently, particularly through negotiated agreements. This is a major achievement given that for some time, there has been a view that the system was not living up to its promise, and that legislative and behavioural changes were required to deliver faster, better outcomes.

In 2009 the Attorney-General introduced amendments to the Native Title Act 1993 giving the Federal Court the central role in managing native title claims. Since then, the Court has prioritised key claims and adopted intensive case management practices.

The Attorney-General has called on participants in the system to resolve matters through negotiation and mediation, and to adopt a more flexible and collaborative approach. To ensure the Australian Government meets these standards, the Attorney-General’s Department is implementing a more strategic approach to the way the Commonwealth acts as a party to native title claims.

‘By sending a clearer signal about Commonwealth priorities in native title claims, claimants will be better able to engage in resolving issues that are genuinely in dispute,’ says special adviser Leith Watson.

‘Our approach has already seen the Commonwealth reduce its involvement in a number of claims, with further work planned to redirect resources to resolving claims of greater significance to the Commonwealth and the native title system.’

Leith has been with the Department since 2003, and her policy development and implementation skills have been an asset to progressing these significant reforms, which have required extensive consultation across government, representative bodies and groups, and the Court.

‘This strategic approach should help increase the rate of claims resolved and improve outcomes for native title parties, particularly claimants and their communities,’ she says.

previous pagenext page