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Lawyers want more Legal Aid money in Victoria

Legal bodies campaigning for extra funding said the number of Independent Children's Lawyers is to be cut because Legal Aid can no longer afford to meet the cost.

Herald Sun (Melbourne)
14 March 2008

Kids hit by legal aid crisis
By Norrie Ross

Children involved in distressing Family Court cases will be denied a voice because of a funding crisis at Victoria Legal Aid, it was claimed yesterday.

Legal bodies campaigning for extra funding said the number of Independent Children's Lawyers (ICLs) is to be cut because Legal Aid can no longer afford to meet the cost.

It means that many children involved in cases in the Family and Federal Magistrates' courts will not have a lawyer to represent their interests.
This is reported as though it's a bad thing!
Law Institute president Tony Burke said that, based on population, Victoria received the lowest Federal Government legal aid funding of any state.

Independent Children's Lawyers are appointed in cases where there are allegations of abuse, where there is serious conflict between parents or where neither parent has a lawyer.

"These lawyers are known as the honest broker and act in the best interests of the child," Mr Burke said.
He must be joking.  Most of the reports I've heard suggest ICLs act in the best interests of the false accuser and of themselves (financially).
The Law Institute supported by the Victorian Bar launched a campaign yesterday to persuade the Federal Government to tip $10 million a year extra into the system.

Victorian Bar Council chairman, Peter Riordan, said that in 2006-07 VLA approved 1600 more family grants than NSW Legal Aid despite having $16 million less in Commonwealth funding.
I wonder if it would be more cost effective for legal aid to take laywers on salary to deal with these issues rather than to pay costs as they arise with cases.

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
Well if Legal Aid was more conscientious about who they give free legal assistance to, they wouldn't have this problem.

My ex falsely claimed and secured legal aid. (I know it was false because she was paid $100,000s from the sale of our house.)

So we are in court, I am paying for my lawyer - she is happy to string it out as long as possible as she isn't paying a cracker.

Today I get an email from her telling me she is taking a 7 day holiday with the children at a luxurious Gold Coast resort. Go figure…
Why doesn't the government bring out something like the medical profession for lawyers? Don't doctors have to become interns at hospitals before they can start their own practice.

Legal aid in each state could have lawyers on staff learning there trade under the guidance of lawyers who are specialists in their field.

Now wouldn't the legal profession stick up a stink… lol

Lawyer do have to do some supervised work before

Prospective solicitors (and Baristers) do have to do some supervised (100's of hours) work before being allowed to practice as a solicitor. More experience in Family Law before being approved as a Family Law Specialist. Before being approved to act as an ICL (Independant Children's Lawyer or Barister) practicing Solicitors are reqired to undergo further training.

Like any profession, the quality of the work performed largely depends on the motivation and integrity of the Solicitor.

In most cases though, the outcome can be influenced by the quality of preparion by a party, especially by an SRL.

Leaving the decisions to someone else is always a dangerous proposition, as they decide what is best for you based on their view of your life. A look at past Judgements of the FCoA and FMC will show Judicial Decision which do not follow the advice of either the ICL or Family Report.

Back to Legal Aid. Every State Legal Aid body has their own policies on how and which applicants are granted legal aid. Leagl Aid Funding is not open ended for solicitors. They have to justify each grant. In NSW that is done in blocks for each part of the process. Except in exceptional circumstances, a party in reciept of Legal aid must agree to participate in a Conference before a further grant is made to fund any trial. I know for a fact that in NSW a party's degree of participation, in one form or another is reported back to the Commisiion. The actual discusions remain private and cofidential.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
GoodDad said
Well if Legal Aid was more conscientious about who they give free legal assistance to, they wouldn't have this problem.

My ex falsely claimed and secured legal aid. (I know it was false because she was paid $100,000s from the sale of our house.)

So we are in court, I am paying for my lawyer - she is happy to string it out as long as possible as she isn't paying a cracker.

Today I get an email from her telling me she is taking a 7 day holiday with the children at a luxurious Gold Coast resort. Go figure…
GoodDad

You raised a very valid point about Legal Aid being granted to people that can afford to fund their own case.

It is the business of why it is was granted in the first place without sufficient checks being made and whether it is a grant or a series of ongoing grants that is not a transparent process.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
A case in point.

Our ex has been granted legal aid, even after she racked up several contraventions. Even though she did not turn up at court on at least 2 occaisions. Even though she has shown no good faith in negotiating or mediating anything.

She lied about her household income - mummy and daddy earn into 3 figures combined.

Before I came on the scene, my partner did not qualify because he had little chance of success - 1 of the funding measures and had a boat (a little tinny) but enough of an asset to upset them. Now I am on the scene, we earn too much.

There is an incredible amount of gender bias in legal aid.

Other comments:

our local free legal service often uses students and when the questions get too sticky, they refer to a supervisor.

Legal aid is granted in chunks here in QLD as well.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
I can see what your saying D4L, rather than address the problem increase the players and funding to those who are making false accusations is just a blatant miss use of funding that could go to cases that actually need the assistance.

As far as if you have knowledge of misuse of funds then why not address the concern in writing to legal aid not forgetting to remind them that you intend to address the issues in formal notice to the court.

An excuse could be made that they have no means to check validity of financial's or they may also remark they take on face value each application but when they have been questioned in writing they have to respond proficiently if you request a reply.

It worked in my case and funding was removed from her, I had organized funding for myself prior to this and although was told this was not possible as my X was already their client it was proved to be an untruth and I was in fact entitled to aid.

Mind after the first few confrontations under his guise I went SRL.

In W.A. to my knowledge Legal Aid covers mainly children's issues and may require some payment to be made after the case. It is limited in it's application and if you do manage to tie property and children's issues in together they may require payment from the proceeds of property sale.

Much like oneadadc has said preparation is the key factor.

Perhaps mediation is starting to work D4L and the reason why lawyers need more funding is to raise their income by governmental funding. Lets hope mediation does provide a fair service and funding goes to those who truly need this valuable commodity and not the false accusers   
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