Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    New Kununurra Legal Aid office opens

    1/07/2008 12:00 AM



    The Hon Jim McGinty MLA 
    Attorney General      
    The Hon Robert McClelland MP 
    Federal Attorney General 


    People living in some of the most remote parts of Western Australia now have better access to legal assistance with the opening of the new Legal Aid office in Kununurra.


    The new six-person office has been jointly funded by the Rudd and Carpenter Governments, with the Commonwealth providing $1.1million to establish the office and its family dispute resolution facility. The WA Government has committed $2.4million over four years to cover running costs.


    Federal Attorney‑General Robert McClelland said the new office would service people living in Halls Creek, Kununurra, Wyndham and the many Aboriginal communities in the East Kimberley region.


    “This office will make it easier for the more than 12,500 people living in the East Kimberley to get legal advice and representation,” Mr McClelland said.


    “The new service reflects the Rudd Government’s commitment to enhancing access to justice for all Australians, including those living in regional, rural, and remote areas.


    “I would like to congratulate Legal Aid Western Australia on their efforts and their commitment to improving the availability of legal services.  A permanent Legal Aid presence will enable communities to engage lawyers experienced in family law, child protection, violence prevention and criminal matters. 


    “This centre is another example of co-operative federalism, with both governments working closely to deliver better services for local communities.  The centre will help support the work of other Commonwealth and State Government agencies and contribute towards a safer, more functional and effective community. It will also complement the indigenous and community legal services currently provided in the region.


    WA Attorney General Jim McGinty said the new office would ease the pressure on Broome-based Legal Aid lawyers, who previously had to travel long distances.


    “These lawyers have done a fantastic job, but the distances they have had to travel, along with the Broome-based magistrate, have been enormous,” Mr McGinty said.


    “Servicing the entire Kimberley with such a large court circuit created significant difficulties when it came to advising clients and taking instructions. There were often time constraints, and this problem was exacerbated by complicated cases and working with people who may not have spoken English as their first language.


    “The new office and the appointment of a second Kimberley magistrate, this time based in Kununurra, will see the Kimberly region divided into two more manageable court circuits - west and east.


    “The new magistrate, Catherine Crawford, will start work in Kununurra in September this year."


    The appointment of the second magistrate is expected to reduce court waiting time for trials in the Kimberley from 25 weeks on average to less than 15 weeks.

    Kimberley MLA Carol Martin congratulated the State and Commonwealth Attorneys General for taking joint action.

    “The commitment of Government is expressed by actions,” Mrs Martin said.


    “My goal in this process, a second magistrate dedicated to the East Kimberley, has been achieved - and she is a woman!


    “We now have the balance that we aimed for in the Kimberley region and I’m exceptionally pleased.”


    A temporary office is located in Kununurra Shopping Centre.  New offices are being built at River Fig Avenue and the Legal Aid office expects to move into this space in the first half of 2009.


    State - Attorney General's office - (08) 9422 3000

    Federal - Attorney General's office - (02) 6277 7300