The Andrews Labor Government is improving access to legal services for those seeking asylum in Australia.

The Legacy Caseload Initiative will help asylum seekers with difficulties understanding the legal process due to language barriers or mental health issues caused by torture or trauma receive the legal assistance they require.

Attorney General Martin Pakula today launched the new partnership between Victoria Legal Aid, Justice Connect and Refugee Legal.

During the next two years, the Legacy Caseload Initiative will provide two specialist immigration lawyers, a coordinator to finalise pro bono or low cost legal assistance and three lawyers at Refugee Legal.

In 2014, the Commonwealth Government withdrew most legal assistance funding for asylum seekers who had arrived in Australia by boat between August 2012 and January 2014.

These asylum seekers, known as the ‘Legacy Caseload’, were further disadvantaged by changes to Commonwealth legislation, which denies them the right to review an adverse primary decision affecting their refugee claim.

The Labor Government will provide legal assistance and advice for the 11,000 Legacy Caseload arrivals currently in the community on bridging visas, or in immigration detention.

Through the Community Legal Centres Assistance Fund, we have provided $50,000 to Refugee Legal to expand its migration advice services in Melbourne and across rural and regional Victoria.

The grant to Refugee Legal is part of $2 million the Government provided over two years to Community Legal Centres for a range of key frontline resources and programs.

Refugee Legal is the only Community Legal Centre in Victoria that specialises in all aspects of Commonwealth refugee and immigration law and provides vital legal assistance to asylum seekers, refugees and disadvantaged migrants in the community and in detention.

Quotes attributable to Attorney General Martin Pakula

“This is about helping those who have risked their lives in the hope of making a better life for themselves in Australia.”

“The Legacy Caseload Initiative will provide those who most need support with legal assistance to navigate the complex process of seeking refugee status.”

“Victoria’s legal system has a large volunteer base of specialist lawyers and workers, and they should be commended for the wonderful work they do.”

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