Law and justice funding announced in the 2021-22 NSW Budget will have a real impact on the lives of people who come into contact with the state’s justice system, including those impacted by family and domestic violence, people with a mental illness, Indigenous people, children and young people.

President of the Law Society of NSW, Juliana Warner, commended the NSW Government for providing funding in the 2021-22 NSW Budget that aims to reduce the pressures on the justice system in the long term.

Ms Warner welcomed the additional $60 million over two years to strengthen frontline domestic and sexual violence services across NSW and an additional $5.5 million in capital expenditure for Domestic Violence Saferooms in up to 44 courts in priority locations and to enable domestic violence complainants to give evidence remotely.

“I appreciate that the NSW Government’s immediate priority is to ensure that our state is COVID-safe, boost economic recovery and support and protect communities and families,” Ms Warner said.

“However, as NSW emerges from the pandemic, it’s also incredibly important that we have appropriate funding to reduce the backlogs in our courts that have been exacerbated by the pandemic restrictions, increase access to justice, and ensure appropriate support for those vulnerable people who come into contact with our justice system.

“I am particularly happy with the NSW Government’s focus on supporting victim-survivors of family, domestic and sexual violence and their children, including the additional $32.5 million to be provided over four years to expand the Staying Home Leaving Violence program.”

Ms Warner also acknowledged the significant law and justice funding that was announced in the lead up to the NSW Budget, including:

• $56.1 million funding boost over four years to appoint eight new magistrates and increase resources for prosecutors and Legal Aid and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
• $27.9 million to expand the specialist Drug Court to Dubbo in the state’s Orana region.
• $28 million investment in the Justice Advocacy Service (JAS) and the establishment of a new court-based diversion program for people with a cognitive impairment.

“The Law Society has been calling for additional magistrates for our Local Courts which we hope will reduce the lengthy delays in our courts and alleviate the pressure on our magistrates, court staff and all those who come into contact with our Local Courts,” Ms Warner said.

“We have also publicly encouraged the expansion of the Drug Court to Dubbo and other diversionary programs for many years.”

The 2021-22 Budget includes:

• An extra $32.5 million over four years to expand Staying Home Leaving Violence, a program supporting women and children impacted by domestic violence, from its existing 33 sites to ensure it will be available across NSW. The program aims to reduce the risk of homelessness and maintain community connections for those impacted by domestic violence. The Government will also continue to fund the Domestic Violence Pro-Active Support Service.
• $46 million to expand the Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme, including the digitisation of records.
• $20 million NSW Government contribution for Closing the Gap initiatives in accordance with the National Agreement and in support of the equal participation of Aboriginal communities in priority reforms.
• $41.7 million ($84.4 million over two years) to meet increased demand for payments to victims of crime.
• $30 million over four years for social impact investments, with a focus on programs for disadvantaged women and Indigenous youth.
• $33 million investment in corrective services for 170 frontline Community Corrections roles, including eight Aboriginal identified roles, plus providing people on parole with greater access to programs and increased supervision to ensure they do not become further entrenched in the criminal justice system.
• $57 million over two years to expand the Together Home program which provides homeless services and support.
• $28.5 million over four years to continue the successful Police Ambulance and Clinical Early Response (PACER) program which embeds mental health clinicians with first responders at the scene to provide specialist advice and appropriate care to people experiencing mental distress.
• $10.1 million ($41.5 million over four years) in additional funding to support the delivery of critical services by the NSW Trustee and Guardian.
• $38.5 million over four years for the NSW Data Analytics Centre to improve the provision of public services.
• Continuation of the $1500 Small Business Fees and Charges rebate.
• $54.5 million to build and upgrade police stations at Bega, Goulburn, Jindabyne area, Bourke, Bathurst and Singleton, and a new police education and training facility in Dubbo and a $19 million upgrade for the Goulburn police academy.

“It is pleasing to see that the NSW Government has provided additional resources for our state’s justice system and for services and programs that support those who come into contact with the legal system, including those impacted by family and domestic violence, people with a mental illness, Indigenous people, children and young people,” Ms Warner said.