NBN seeks to bridge urban, rural legal services

Government gives $400,000 to first round of applicants for the NBN legal assistance partnerships

The government is attempting to use the NBN to connect rural areas to urban lawyers. Communications minister Stephen Conroy and Attorney-General Nicola Roxon announced $400,000 for the first round of successful applicants to share the NBN legal assistance partnerships.

The initial round of funding is just one-tenth of the $4 million funding commitment made in the 2011-12 Budget to improve access to legal assistance services through the NBN for people in regional Australia.

Successful applicants in the first round are:

  • North West Community Legal Centre (Devonport) Tasmania
  • Hobart Community Legal Service
  • Redfern Legal Centre providing services to Armidale in New South Wales
  • Welfare Rights Centre South Australia.

The attorney general will call for second round applications later this year, the government said.

"All Australians, no matter where they live, should have access to quality community legal services," Roxon said in a statement.

"Through this program, the NBN will help to build a digital bridge over the legal divide between regional and metropolitan Australia, helping to provide better community legal services. These grants will challenge applicants to identify innovative and collaborative ways of providing legal assistance and sharing knowledge more effectively with regional community legal services"

Conroy said, "The NBN presents enormous opportunities for a dramatic improvement in access to professional training and expert legal services in regional Australia."

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