I say "alleged objective" because it is abundantly clear that the VLA does not actually fund projects that are in the public interest; rather it funds fictional projects such as the 'Even Girls Play Footy' documentary or the Women's Crime Writing Convention that are targeted at niche markets and do not involve policy reform that affects a wide range of people.
I proposed to the VLA a project that would, in fact, benefit a large number of people but it was rejected. Part of the reason might be that nobody at the VLA seemed to understand what the project was about as very few lawyers know anything about economics. However, even once I explained the project to them and pointed out that prominent members of the community - such as a former chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission - were supportive of the ideas I wanted to elaborate in a funded research project, they still didn't get it.
My project was about breaking up the legal cartel. It sought to explore how professional regulations that limit who can be a lawyer push up prices, thus hurting consumers of legal services. It is not a big secret that lawyers overcharge for their services as compared to what would be the case in a free-market where barriers to entry into a profession are low. A 5000 word paper on the topic would have been an ideal step toward reform from a community point of view.
For futher reading on this topic see:
Milton Friedman, 'Occupational Licensure' in Capitalism and Freedom.
Allan Fels, former Chairman of ACCC, Speech 13 July 2001.