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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 24 August 2017) . . Page.. 3342 ..

Last year we announced the safer families initiative to respond to domestic and family violence. This year we are building on the progress already made by providing increased funding to support community legal centres. CLCs provide essential legal services for people facing family and domestic violence.This budget gives $2.48 million over four years to support our community legal centres. This funding will provide four years of funding to Canberra Community Law and the Women’s Legal Centre and two years of funding to the Environmental Defenders Office. It will also provide four years of funding to Street Law, Canberra’s only early intervention legal outreach service for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. This marks the first time that any government has provided recurrent funding to Street Law, and it is a testament to the outstanding contribution that Street Law has made to our community in its seven years.

Of all Australian states and territories, the ACT is already one of the highest financial contributors to its legal assistance sector, contributing approximately 60 per cent of the government funding provided to Legal Aid ACT and ACT community legal centres in 2016-17. In 2017-18 we increased this margin through this budget initiative. The accessibility of our justice system is also improved by the funding of $400,000 for scoping and design of a drug and alcohol court in collaboration with the justice, drug and alcohol support sectors.

The government has committed to establishing a drug and alcohol court and associated support programs for the ACT as part of a goal to reduce recidivism by 25 per cent by 2025. The effectiveness of drug and alcohol courts in achieving long-term behavioural change in offenders is supported by a substantial body of evidence.

A well-resourced Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is also a critical component of our justice system. In this budget the government will provide funding to increase the capacity of the office of the DPP to better support prosecutions in the territory. This funding will assist the office to keep pace with demand and respond to the needs of the court, police, other investigative agencies and the criminal justice sector more broadly.

This builds on previous investment in the Office of the DPP. In the 2016-17 ACT budget the DPP received funding of $1.363 million over four years through the safer families funding package to strengthen criminal justice responses to alleged perpetrators of family violence. In the 2014-15 budget the government provided $1.158 million over four years to establish a work safety prosecutions unit.

In addition to this funding, the government has agreed to undertake a review of the Office of the DPP’s resources. This review will provide advice to government on a way forward in supporting the office and will be considered in the context of future budget processes.

In addition to our investment in the justice system, this budget supports the government’s commitment to support a diverse and vibrant night economy. There are initiatives to cut unnecessary red tape, improve the vibrancy of Canberra’s night-life

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