POLL RAKES UP POSITIVE OPINION OF LEGAL AID
Written on the 14 June 2016
AN INDEPENDENT poll commissioned as a part of a national campaign found that the vast majority of Australians believe legal aid should be available in times of need.
The Legal Aid Matters campaign sought the views of a broad cross-section of Australians on the matter by posing a single statement.
"In Australia, anyone who encounters a serious legal issue, but cannot afford a lawyer, should be able to rely on legal representation being provided through legal aid," the survey proposed.
More than 80 per cent of respondents agreed to the statement, with only 3 per cent disagreeing and the remainder offering a neutral or indecisive response.
Stuark Clark, Legal Aid Matters spokesperson and Law Council of Australia president, said the result should inspire government officials to reassess their priorities when it comes to legal aid funding.
"This election, we need all political parties to support the eight-of-10 Australian's who rightly believe that legal aid should be there for them if they need it," says Clark.
Clark adds that access to justice is a basic human right, one to which Australians rightly feel entitled.
Also lending his support to the legal aid matters campaign is Richard Roxburgh (pictured), who plays Sydney lawyer Cleaver Greene in the popular ABC series Rake.
In a video released to the public, Roxburgh says that access to justice needs to be for all Australians, not just those with deep pockets.
"Regrettably, cuts to legal aid funding by successive federal governments have created a situation where many Australians, including those living beneath the poverty line, are no longer eligible for legal aid," says Roxburgh.
"Currently many Australians are forced into the unfair situation of having to represent themselves against well-resourced corporations or government.
"I need hardly tell you that this has had devastating consequences at times, with people's home or liberty put at risk."
The campaign is calling on the next federal government to reconsider the country's position on legal aid by committing $350 million to the institution and ending the current funding crunch.
You can watch Richard Roxburgh's video here.