Massive boost to Family Law Pilot Program

South Australia has secured $14.3 million over four years from the Federal Government to increase the availability of legal assistance in Family Court matters.

Federal Attorney-General Michaelia Cash said the money will be used to implement a three-part pilot, addressing identified areas of legal need in the system.

“The aim is to increase court efficiencies and reduce court delays, ultimately resulting in better outcomes across the system,” she said.

The pilot will target three specific areas:

  1. The ‘Missing Middle’ – targeting financially disadvantaged people who are not eligible for legal aid and might not otherwise be eligible for other legal assistance services. This includes people who earn a minimum wage but have dependants or other financial pressures which prevent them from securing private legal services. Part One of the Pilot aims to increase efficiencies and reduce delays caused by self-represented litigants.
  2. Property Mediation matters – increasing the capacity of the sector to provide representation services in Family Law property mediation matters. The aim is to divert clients to quicker and less costly resolution outcomes.
  3. Cultural appropriateness – increasing the availability of culturally safe and appropriate legal advice and representation services for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander families in Family Court matters. In particular, the pilot will direct resources toward culturally appropriate representation services for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children in these matters.

South Australian Minister Josh Teague said this funding will significantly improve legal assistance programs across the state.

“South Australia is the only state or territory to receive funding for this important pilot program,” Minister Teague said.

“This will significantly improve the court experience for vulnerable South Australians who require help navigating the often-confusing Family Law system.

“The money sits in addition to the $50.5 million the Marshall Liberal Government committed to Community Legal Centres and the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement for Family Law matters,” he said.

A procurement process is currently underway to allocate funding to Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement and Community Legal Centres to deliver these services.

The Family Law Pilot Program will start in the first half of 2022.