Joint media release
The Hon Nicola Roxon MP
Minister for Emergency Management
Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity
Funding to support NBN legal assistance partnerships
Better legal assistance is on the way for regional Australians as lawyers in the bush will soon come 'face-to-face' with their city counterparts through the National Broadband Network (NBN).
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced the first round of successful applicants to share NBN legal assistance partnerships.
"All Australians, no matter where they live, should have access to quality community legal services," Ms Roxon said.
"Through this program, the NBN will help to build a digital bridge over the legal divide between regional and metropolitan Australia, helping to provide better community legal services.
"These grants will challenge applicants to identify innovative and collaborative ways of providing legal assistance and sharing knowledge more effectively with regional community legal services."
Senator Conroy said the program will provide funding to support NBN-based trials to increase access to legal assistance in regional areas where it can often be limited.
"The NBN presents enormous opportunities for a dramatic improvement in access to professional training and expert legal services in regional Australia," Senator Conroy said.
This $400,000 in funding forms part of the Government's $4 million funding commitment made in the 2011-12 Budget to improve access to legal assistance services through the NBN for people living in regional Australia.
The first round of successful applicants are:
- North West Community Legal Centre (Devonport) Tasmania
- Hobart Community Legal Service
- Redfern Legal Centre providing services to Armidale in New South Wales
- Welfare Rights Centre South Australia.
The Attorney-General's Department will call for second round applications later this year.
For more information, including the NBN Program Guidelines, please visit this website on Monday: www.ag.gov.au/nbnlegalassistance.
Date: 30 August 2012
Attorney-General's Office (Roxon) - 02 6277 7300
Adam Sims (Senator Conroy's office) - 0408 258 457
Background information about each of the first round of recipients:
North West Community Legal Centre
The centre will establish and maintain a remote legal assistance service in Smithton Tasmania, in collaboration with Wyndarra Centre Inc. The project will utilise the NBN to enable North West Community Legal Centre to provide one-on-one legal advice to the far north west and west coast communities from it offices via Skype and similar technologies. These communities will also be able to use the system at any time to receive and transmit legal documents quickly, confidentially and cheaply. The project will give people in far west and west coast access to timely, free legal services comparable to those in less remote areas and give them the opportunity to experience the benefits of the NBN.
Hobart Community Legal Service
The project will enhance the existing legal service delivery at Sorell, Tasmania provided at the Hobart Community Legal Service Inc. (HCLS) outreach office through a collaborative partnership with the National Pro Bono Resource Centre (NPBRC) using the NBN to facilitate pro bono lawyers providing advice to clients. Through purchasing equipment and partnership with NPBRC who will provide pro bono lawyers to be available online, the project will provide high quality face to face legal advice service via video conferencing where documents can be easily scanned and perused by the lawyers online in their offices in Melbourne and Sydney as well as support for the existing solicitor working at this outreach location. NPBRC will design data collection systems and provide a research officer to document and report on this project. The project will significantly increase the capacity of the HCLS Sorell outreach service to meet unmet legal needs.
Welfare Rights Centre (SA) Inc
The project will connect volunteer lawyers currently involved in the Housing Legal Clinic (HLC) in Metropolitan Adelaide with people experiencing homelessness and other disadvantage in targeted country towns. This will provide free legal services, via NBN enabled webcam communication, between the lawyers and the clients. This will be achieved through partnerships with host welfare organisations and participating pro bono law firms.
Redfern Legal Centre
The Redfern Legal Centre will provide a legal assistance service in Armidale by connecting Sydney volunteer and community lawyers with community members via the NBN. This initiative will use an NBN-ready case and file management system combined with innovative Australian video conferencing to enhance service delivery.