The Law Council has long promoted equality before the law and, along with its stakeholders, advocated for funding legal assistance services, as well as sustainable court funding. The Justice Project is an extension of this work and is the Law Council’s national review into the state of access to justice in Australia, focusing on those facing significant social and economic disadvantage. It is being led by an expert Steering Committee headed by The Hon Robert French AC, Retired Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, and including the Hon Stephen Charles QO QC, Former Justice of Appeal in the Supreme Court of Victoria, and Australian Human Rights Commissioner Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM.
The Project is concentrating on 13 key groups experiencing significant economic and other disadvantage. For each group, the Project has explored key legal needs, barriers to accessing justice and laws, policies and practices which have a disproportionate effect upon such people, or their capacity to seek outcomes through the justice system. A key focus of the project is on illuminating ‘what works’ in the access to justice space, to demonstrate the considerable innovation that exists, despite the resource pressures.
In early August, the Law Council released 14 consultation papers, including a research and issues paper focusing on each key group as well as an overarching paper, setting out the Project methodology and consultation questions. Submissions were sought by the end of September. The Law Council President and Secretariat attended 133 consultations and received over 130 submissions. A final report will be released in early 2018.
The Project will inform the Law Council’s ongoing work on access to justice and law reform, by providing a strong evidence base, and much greater context, for our arguments to governments. More information about The Justice Project is available at https://www.lawcouncil.asn.au/justice-project/about-the-project