Responding to the findings of the Legal Australia-Wide Survey that was released today, Australian Greens spokesperson for Legal Affairs, Senator Penny Wright, said it is high time for the Government to address the large amount of unmet legal need in our community by providing appropriate funding to legal assistance services throughout Australia.
Senator Wright said, “This survey reinforces what several other studies, including from the Australian Council of Social Service, and the Australia Institute, have already confirmed a while ago: access to justice is out of reach for many Australians.
“The survey shows that people experiencing disadvantage, including people from non-English speaking backgrounds, and people with low education levels or unemployed people, are less likely to act to resolve their legal problems.
“It does not come at a surprise that cost is the most common barrier to people seeking legal help.
“Legal problems rarely happen in isolation – they often come with other, non-legal problems such as financial, social or health issues. Assistance services need to be integrated and holistic so they can respond to those needs and help people through the whole lifecycle of their legal problem.
“It is imperative that this study, which is the largest survey of legal need ever conducted in Australia, be considered as part of the Federal Government’s review into the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services.
“Universal access to justice is the cornerstone of a fair society and we must properly fund and resource our legal assistance services to make this a reality for all Australians.”