Legal Aid - Address to the Australian Parliament
16 February 2021
Address to the Federation Chamber, House of Representatives, Australian Parliament House
Tuesday 16 February 2021
Mr DAVID SMITH (Bean) (16:06): While many Australians did it tough in 2020, I want to speak on the efforts of the Legal Aid Commission in the ACT and offer them my gratitude. Legal Aid's mission statement is to promote a just society in the ACT. Legal Aid remained open year-round in 2020, through the bushfires and COVID-19, to serve their community. There was no respite through the year, as demand remained on them to provide their grants of legal assistance, duty appointments and information services as well as their community outreach. Legal Aid provides a drop-in service at public colleges throughout the territory, including in the Bean electorate.
Admirably, in conjunction with the efforts of the ACT government, Legal Aid kept this service going. This program involves solicitors visiting public colleges and providing confidential legal services and information to students who are grappling with legal issues and who may not have the means to otherwise access legal services. The legal issues facing these young people range from their precarious work status in the gig economy to traffic matters to, in some circumstances, sadly, family violence.
I call on the federal government to ensure that vital community services like Legal Aid are funded adequately across the country and that their contribution is appropriately acknowledged.