The Justice Project team heard from everyday Australians and the organisations working alongside them to facilitate access to justice in Australia during its extensive consultations.
There were some clear themes which emerged from the consultations, which are contained in the Justice Project’s Progress Report.
However, consistent with findings made in the consultation papers, a resounding message from stakeholders was that lack of resources and short-term, uncertain funding frameworks remains a central challenge and critical barrier to progress. As well as focusing on key challenges, consultations highlighted strategies that are considered effective in increasing access to justice, including:
- therapeutic and rehabilitative programs;
- community legal education;
- professional training;
- specialist and trauma-informed practice;
- holistic, joined-up services;
- prevention and early intervention, including effective and timely legal assistance, which resolves matters and avoids downstream costs to individuals and the community;
- non-legal advocates working in partnership with legal services to break down trust barriers and create links to legal help; and
- communication intermediaries.
More than 130 consultations involving both formal discussions and site visits, with government agencies, non-government organisations, advocacy and peak bodies, legal assistance services, court and tribunal personnel, sole practitioners, academics, subject matter experts and community elders, were held in locations in each State and Territory, including Darwin, Maningrida, Townsville, Brisbane, Bourke, Sydney, Canberra, Mildura, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Kalgoorlie and Perth.
The Law Council is grateful for the positive engagement by stakeholders across all jurisdictions, and the considerable willingness by many organisations and individuals to assist with the Project.
The Justice Project will culminate in a final report, to be released in 2018.