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Government Haste Gives Unequal Access To Cultural Reports

The Government has lost an opportunity to reduce the cost of funding cultural reports at sentencing, while retaining the critical role the information plays in rehabilitating offenders, says Community Law Centres Aotearoa (CLCA).

“Rushing these cuts to funding through without public scrutiny and a select committee process means that better options have not been considered,” says CLCA CEO, Sue Moroney. “The result is that Judges will access to a greater amount of relevant information to consider for those who can afford to pay for the reports than for the majority who can’t.”

CLCA has now joined Te Hunga Roia Māori o Aotearoa, the New Zealand Law Society and the New Zealand Bar Association in criticising the removal of legal aid funding for the Section 27 reports.

“We were preparing to make constructive submissions on options to reduce the cost of providing funding for these reports, while retaining the benefits of giving Judges insight into the offender’s experience of abuse and trauma, state care, mental health issues, or other relevant matters,” said Sue.

“Now it is being rushed through under urgency, we have no option but to oppose the move because it reduces access to justice for those on middle and low incomes. This measure will also have a disproportionate impact young people and Maori.”

CLCA wanted options considered like having a fixed fee for the reports, establishing criteria when funding could be accessed or determining an approved list of supppliers.

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“Others would have had good ideas to stop the baby being thrown out with the bath water, but the Government is forging ahead without considering the need to address underlying issues and prevent re-offending”

“Having access to justice for all is a fundamental need for decent societies – removing it makes New Zealand society more fragile. We urge the Government to reconsider,” said Sue.

Media contacts:

Sue Moroney, CEO Community Law: 027 422-7831


Twenty-four Community Law Centres work out of over 140 locations across New Zealand to provide free legal help and advice to those who are unable to pay for a private lawyer or who do not have access to legal aid. This advice covers all aspects of New Zealand’s legal system, including family law, employment issues, housing problems, consumer advice and criminal law. As well as around 250 staff, Community Law’s services are boosted by over 1,200 volunteer lawyers who run clinics and deliver free advice and assistance.

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