Access to Justice
What is access to justice?
The rule of law and human rights of all people are core tenet of our modern democracy and having access to justice, is an important part of protecting those rights.
However, the justice system doesn't always work well for everyone and sometimes people can't get access to justice. Some community sections are much more vulnerable than others.
Access to justice might include:
- getting the right information about the law and how it applies to you;
- understanding when you have a legal problem and knowing what to do about it;
- getting the right help with a legal problem, including from a lawyer;
- being able to deal with your legal problem and being able to understand the outcome; and
- making sure your voice is heard when laws are made.
Why is access to justice important?
The Law Council believes that the system which delivers access to justice should be; fair; just in the results that it delivers; accessible to the people who need to use it; responsive to their needs; and properly resourced.
All Australians have, under the law, the right to seek justice. But this right doesn’t count for much if it cannot be exercised.
Each year, one in four Australians will experience a legal problem substantial enough to require a lawyer, yet a lawyer may not always be within reach.
Less than one-tenth of people account for approximately two-thirds of legal problems.
More than 13 per cent of Australians live under the poverty line, while legal aid is available to just eight per cent. Many impoverished people are considered too wealthy to get basic legal help.
Legal issues compound other social and economic challenges creating a dire situation for those in need of assistance.
People who experience disadvantage come from a range of groups, 13 of those groups are identified in the Final Report.
However, we recognise that people often experience complex and multiple levels of disadvantage.
Australians who experience disadvantage can find it more difficult to get access to justice for a multitude of reasons, including but not limited to:
- education and literacy levels;
- language barriers;
- financial constraints;
- lack of accessibility;
- access to information and digital technology;
- past traumas and hesitation to engage in legal processes; and
- lack of knowledge around rights and where to go for advice or assistance.
The Law Council wants to change this through the constructive, informed recommendations in the Justice Project’s Final Report which provide a roadmap for future action, building the case for new, whole-of-government justice strategies secured by appropriate funding.