NT youth justice scandal sparks calls for reversal to community legal aid cuts

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Federal shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus is calling on the government to reverse cuts to community legal aid, following the Northern Territory justice scandal.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a royal commission into the treatment of youth detainees following a shocking Four Corners report. But according to an ABC report, Dreyfus said the government pre-empt the inquiry by stopping the cuts to legal aid scheduled to kick in next year.
“We've had our minds concentrated on this in particular in relation to youth justice in the Northern Territory a couple of weeks back with the dreadful images we saw on the Four Corners program,” he said.

“Part of that problem ... is caused by a lack of legal assistance services.

“And I am pretty confident that the royal commission is going to be recommending that there should be an increase in legal assistance services.”

Speaking in Broome alongside newly elected Labor senator Pat Dodson, Dreyfus said the 30% cuts will have dire consequences for NT’s two community legal centres.

“They're under immense pressure because there have been cuts right from the start of the Abbott and Turnbull governments, starting in December of 2013 and continuing right until today,” Dreyfus said in Broome yesterday, where he visited community legal service providers.

“Some protests from Labour, from Aboriginal communities, from people who are served by community legal centres, have produced the result that some of those cuts have been reversed.

“But both community legal services and Aboriginal Legal Services across Australia, are facing as of July 1, 2017, very substantial cuts.”