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Key Measures to Support the Australian Legal and Industrial Relations Systems

Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Media Release

As part of our plan for a stronger future, the Morrison Government is investing in Australia's legal and workplace systems to help Australians access appropriate services, support and advice.

Measures announced in the 2022-23 Budget include enhanced legal services for people affected by domestic and family violence and disasters such as the recent floods.

Additional funding will be provided to several portfolio agencies to continue important oversight and support functions, including industrial relations agencies which will help businesses with their economic recovery.

Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations Michaelia Cash said the Morrison Government was committed to programs and initiatives to keep women and children safe.

"We are continuing to focus on delivering enhanced legal services for Australians, especially vulnerable people," the Attorney-General said.

"We have dedicated funding to support further specialised and trauma-informed legal services, and preventing and addressing sexual harassment."

Key measures for the Attorney-General's and industrial relations portfolio include:

Legal and family support services

Measures include:

  • $16.5 million over 2 years for legal aid commissions to support the transition to the new case management approach in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
  • $5.4 million over 2 years for legal assistance services to support the relief and recovery in New South Wales and Queensland communities affected by the 2022 floods.
  • $2.5 million over 2 years for the Financial Rights Legal Centre's Insurance Law Service to provide specialist legal support to vulnerable people, including women experiencing violence, and disaster-affected people.
  • $1.4 million over 2 years to implement document execution reforms (as part of the Government's Deregulation Agenda). This measure has the potential to save small business and consumers over $400 million per annum.

As part of the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children Package, the Australian Government will provide:

  • $87.9 million over 4 years to extend and expand the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia's Lighthouse Project pilot and culturally responsive support for First Nations Australians. This includes further additional funding of $24.2 million over 3 years for legal aid commissions to raise their capacity to meet increased demand for representation services resulting from the extension and expansion of the Lighthouse pilot.
  • $52.4 million over 4 years to maintain protection against cross-examination by family violence perpetrators by providing more money to legal aid.
  • $8.4 million over 3 years to pilot specialised and trauma-informed legal services for victim-survivors of sexual assault.
  • $1.8 million over 3 years for advice and support services for women who experience sexual harassment, and
  • $1.2 million over 4 years to develop and implement a training and education program for volunteers who assist court users within the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

The Government has already announced significant funding to strengthen prevention and early intervention efforts in family, domestic and sexual violence. This included $5 million over 2 years for the Department of Social Services to develop a national survey of secondary school students on their attitudes regarding consent in partnership with Chanel Contos, founder of Teach Us Consent.

The Government continues to progress work as a priority to implement commitments made in the Government's response to the Respect@Work Report – A Roadmap for Respect. In line with these commitments, the Government is providing $1.6 million over 2 years to establish a specialist outreach team in the AHRC to develop guidance and provide advice to businesses on establishing processes for dealing with allegations of historical workplace sexual harassment.

Industrial relations

To support efficient and productive workplaces, the Australian Government will provide:

  • $5.6 million over 4 years to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for a small business support unit to improve employer/employee experiences when navigating the Fair Work system.
  • $2.7 million in 2022-23 to the Fair Work Ombudsman to assist employers and employees during the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government will consult with key stakeholders on amending the National Employment Standards to:

  • ensure fairness and equity in redundancy payouts, particularly for women.
  • extend an unpaid leave entitlement to foster and kinship carers in recognition of the vital contributions these carers make to the Australian community and some of our country's most vulnerable children.

Tribunals, regulators and other oversight bodies

To boost the capabilities of important Commonwealth agencies, the Australian Government will provide:

  • $17 million over 2 years for the OAIC to process privacy complaints and enhance the OAIC's capacity to take regulatory action for breaches of privacy, such as litigation against social media platforms.
  • $3.6 million over 4 years, and $1.1 million per year ongoing for the OAIC to support implementation of the Government's response to the Inquiry into the Future Directions for the Consumer Data Right (CDR).
  • $15.7 million over 4 years to increase the capability of the Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) by increasing the number of federal prosecutors.
  • $1.6 million in 2022-23 for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), within existing resources, to continue a pilot for a single case management system to allow reform and transformation of business processes within the AAT. This measure will contribute to the AAT fulfilling its purpose of providing a mechanism of merits review that is fair, accessible, just, economical, informal, quick and proportionate.

The Morrison Government continues to deliver the essential services Australians rely on and our continued investment and innovation will ensure Australia's legal and justice system is accessible and responsive. It will also ensure workplaces are fair, productive, flexible, safe and growing as we build a more secure Australia.

More information about the measures is available on the Budget website.

For advice or information about domestic and family violence, 1800RESPECT is a free, national telephone service: call 1800 737 732.