Law Council tells Press Club access to justice reform now urgent, releases new recommendations

14 March 2018

The Law Council of Australia today told the National Press Club that some of Australia’s most disadvantaged people cannot get access to justice and that urgent reform is needed.

During the address, Law Council President, Morry Bailes, released a progress report and three early recommendations from its national Justice Project, a root-and-branch review into the state of access to justice for some of Australia’s most vulnerable – overseen by former Chief Justice Robert French. Earlier discussion papers identified thirteen disadvantaged groups.

“It is the plight of all those excluded from justice in Australia, marginalised and disadvantaged Australians - that prompted the Law Council to initiate The Justice Project - one of the most important pieces of work we have ever undertaken,” Mr Bailes said.

“Through the Justice Project, the need for urgent reform is abundantly clear. People are falling through the cracks. Today, we are able to release three early recommendations:

“We must recognise the preventative, everyday role of timely, effective legal assistance in stopping simple problems from escalating into more serious, often criminal matters, costing the taxpayer and the community,” Mr Bailes said.

Immediate past-President of the Law Council, Fiona McLeod SC, who commenced the Justice Project during her tenure in 2017, said the consultation process was profoundly moving.

“During the Justice Project I heard stories that moved and stunned me,” Ms McLeod said.

“A new mother in jail, whose child was removed within 24 hours of birth and placed into state care in ‘the best interests of the child’. Women jailed after calling the police to report domestic violence because they had unpaid fines.

“Australia needs a plan. The Justice Project will provide us with a roadmap.”

You can access the Justice Project Progress Report here. The final report will be released will be released later this year. Full text of today’s speeches also available here.


Media contacts:

Patrick Pantano: Public Affairs

P. 02 6246 3715     E.

Sonia Byrnes: Communications

P. 0437 078 852     E. 


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