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Law Council launches landmark Justice Project Final report

The Law Council yesterday officially launched the Justice Project’s Final Report with a call for the urgent implementation of Justice Impact Tests among the 59 recommendations.

Justice Impact Tests will prompt a whole-of-government approach when dealing with the pressures on the justice system, avoiding unintended consequences and their potentially tragic outcomes for vulnerable Australians.

More than 60 people attended the launch at Australian Parliament House, where President of the Law Council, Morry Bailes, and former Chief Justice of the High Court, the Hon. Robert French AC, outlined heartbreaking case studies and the personal suffering caused by a lack of access to justice.

“The Law Council believes that the legal system should be fair, just and accessible to the people. It should be responsive to their needs, and properly resourced,” President Bailes said in his opening address.

“We should all expect and enjoy equality before the law. And the evidence shows that unfortunately this is not always the case.

“This is affecting not only people at the margins of our society but is felt across the whole population –including impacting our fiscal budgets, and in our lost potential as a nation.”

Since early 2017, the Law Council has been conducting this national, comprehensive review into the state of access to justice in Australia for people experiencing significant disadvantage.

The Justice Project is one of the most comprehensive reviews of its type in the past 40 years and one of the most significant pieces of work ever undertaken by the Law Council.

Focusing on 13 priority groups identified as facing significant social and economic disadvantage, the final report shines a light on justice issues for these groups by undercovering systemic flaws and identifying service gaps. It also highlights what is working well.

The identified groups are: People with Disability; People Experiencing Economic Disadvantage; LGBTI+ People; Prisoners and Detainees; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People; People who Experience Family Violence; People who have been Trafficked and Exploited; Recent Arrivals to Australia; Children and Young People; Rural, Regional and Remote (RRR) Australians; Asylum Seekers; Older Persons; People who are Homeless

Some of the recommendations in the final report’s 22 chapters, totalling over 1400 pages, include:

The constructive, informed recommendations in the final report provide a roadmap for future action, building the case for new, whole-of-government justice strategies secured by appropriate funding.

The Law Council will continue to engage with government, parliament, the legal sector and the Justice Project’s many other stakeholders to advance its findings.

Following the launch, the Shadow Attorney-General, the Hon. Mark Dreyfus QC MP (who also attended the event) issued a statement congratulating the Law Council for the project and stating that it will ‘carefully consider all of these recommendations'.

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