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Commonwealth public interest and test cases

The Attorney-General's Department may provide financial assistance with the cost of Commonwealth cases that are of public importance.

A case of public importance is one that, in the opinion of the Attorney-General, will:

  • settle an uncertain area or question of Commonwealth law
  • resolve a question of Commonwealth law that affects the rights of a disadvantaged section of the public.

Applications can be made to the department for grants to cover legal fees and other expenses.


The department will not, generally, grant funding to people who can meet the cost without incurring serious financial difficulty.

The department will not, generally, cover the cost of any legal fees or expenses incurred before an application is made.

Special considerations

The following considerations will be taken into account by the decision maker when considering applications:

  • whether the applicant has been the subject of criminal proceedings in Australia or overseas, and – if so – the gravity, nature and outcome of those proceedings
  • if the person is overseas, the circumstances under which they departed Australia.

Further information about special considerations is available on page 21 of the Commonwealth Guidelines for Legal Financial Assistance 2012:

How to apply

Download an application form and a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check Form and email the completed copies to with the required attachments.

Please submit the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check Form directly to the department along with your completed application. Do not submit the form to any other organisation, as the department will submit it on your behalf as part of the assessment of your application.

If you cannot send your application forms by email, contact the Financial Assistance Section.

Assessment timeframe

Complete applications will be assessed within 28 days. Incomplete applications will not be assessed. You will be notified if your application is incomplete.


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