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Enhanced legal and workplace services to support Australians

Media Release

The Morrison Government is boosting investment in important legal and workplace services, keeping Australian families safe and supporting businesses as part of our plan to secure Australia's recovery.

Funding announced in the 2021-22 Budget will boost family law services, and provide more legal and social support for people experiencing domestic and family violence.

New Budget initiatives will also help rebuild our economy by reducing the regulatory burden on Australian businesses – including small businesses – giving them incentive to grow and hire more staff. These measures will cut red tape for businesses, helping them better comply with modern awards, reduce their costs and improve compliance.

Further funding will also be provided to key agencies and projects to continue important oversight and ensure integrity in various portfolio areas.

Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Michaelia Cash said the Government was committed to supporting Australians navigating the legal and the industrial relations systems.

“I am proud to announce a package of considered and important measures, which will support people to resolve issues as efficiently as possible,” the Attorney-General said.

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

Legal and family support services

As part of the Women's Safety Package, the Morrison Government will provide:

  • $129.0million in additional legal assistance funding, to respond to continued demand as a result of COVID-19, particularly from vulnerable women
  • a $101.4 million investment in Children's Contact Services (CCSs) to reduce safety risks to family law system users
  • $85.0 million to maintain, enhance and expand the Family Advocacy Support Services
  • $4.7 million to fund a multi-jurisdictional initiative to strengthen criminal justice responses to sexual assault, sexual harassment and coercive control.

As part of the Women's Economic Security Package the Australian Government will provide:

  • $10.7 million in additional funding to extend two well-received family law property pilots for a further 18 months to 30 June 2023. The complementary Small Claims Property Pilot and the Legal Aid Commission Trial assist separating couples with small property pools achieve affordable, timely property settlements. 

Other initiatives will include:

  • $60.8 million to support the implementation of a new approach to family law case management in the federal family courts. This funding will overhaul case management in family courts, allowing registrars to triage and manage cases more quickly than judges. This will mean more families will have their matters heard and resolved sooner
  • $60 million to provide dedicated legal assistance services for people with mental health issues
  • $16.8 million to deliver legal assistance services to children experiencing, and survivors of, sexual abuse. This amount comprises of $3.7 million for an online chat service and $13.1 million to expand a specialised informed legal service
  • $29 million in funding towards finalising the National Information Sharing Framework on Family Safety
  • $24.1 million for the Attorney-General's Department (AGD) and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) to manage increased prosecutions related to child sexual abuse
  • $6.3 million in additional funding for the Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties scheme in 2021-22
  • $9.3 million to implement recommendations from the Respect@Work report.

$17.1 million has also been allocated for the enhancement of Domestic Violence Units and Health Justice Partnerships. This measure will provide additional, mental health specific funding for these services to respond to the growing needs of women who have experienced family and domestic violence. Funding will also be provided to each state and territory to enable enhanced outreach services to support women in regional, rural and remote Australia.

As previously announced, the Australian Government will provide $12.6 million for additional court and judicial resources for the South Australia family law registry and $14.3 million for additional legal assistance in family law matters for South Australia.

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicides, previously announced by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Veteran's Affairs and Defence Personnel and the Attorney-General, will receive $145.3 million over two years. The Government envisages that three Commissioners will be needed to lead the inquiry, considering the evidence from Australian Defence Force members, veterans and their families.

Industrial relations and workplace safety

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

  • $10 million to invest in regulatory technology solutions for modern awards obligations. This will support a number of initiatives, including allowing payroll and business software developers to integrate, in real-time, data on award pay and conditions from the Fair Work Commission directly into payroll and business products at a lower cost. This will make it easier and cheaper for business to comply with awards, pay staff correctly and give them greater confidence to hire new employees
  • $8 million in additional funding for the Registered Organisations Commission to ensure registered organisations act responsibly, fairly and comply with their obligations under the legislation and that their members' interests are protected
  • $5.4 million in additional funding for the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency to support its work in helping to address Australia's deadly asbestos legacy.

Additionally, Comcare will deliver national forums for Commonwealth, State and Territory work health and safety (WHS) inspectors on sexual harassment, and training for employers and managers covered by Commonwealth WHS laws to better understand and meet their obligations.

Integrity and other initiatives

The Australian Government will also enhance integrity in Commonwealth agencies and programs by providing:

  • $54.3 million to continue the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity's jurisdiction over additional agencies. This funding will be subsumed into the Commonwealth Integrity Commission once it commences
  • $17.2 million to continue to strengthen the Commonwealth's capacity to counter fraud. This funding comprises $13.2 million to continue the Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Centre for four years and $4 million to support increased referrals of serious fraud cases from Taskforce Integrity to the CDPP

The Government's investment and innovation in this year's Budget will ensure Australia's legal and justice system is accessible and efficient. It will also ensure workplaces are fair, productive, flexible, safe and in the best possible position to help secure Australia's recovery.

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.