We did this audit in response to a request from a member of the Legislative Assembly to conduct an audit into the sustainability and funding of legal aid.
The objective of the audit was to determine whether the department has adequate systems and processes to (a) determine the funding needed to effectively deliver and sustain legal aid services and (b) monitor and evaluate the delivery of these services.
The department needs to improve its processes to determine the type and scope of services it can afford to fund for a sustainable and appropriate legal aid program. It has more than doubled its legal aid funding since 2005 and provided LAA with a combined $21.9 million in supplemental in-year funding over the past five year. While the department has identified potential cost savings, they will not be enough to avoid the need for supplemental funding in 2017-18 as well if LAA is to continue with its current level and type of services. The department has only recently taken steps to ensure there will be processes in place to measure, monitor and report on the efficiency and effectiveness of publicly funded legal aid services.