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Law Council’s Justice Project and final report

Posted on: Fri 31 Aug 2018

In this week’s Anangu Lands Paper Tracker radio program, we find out about a report that’s just been released by the Law Council of Australia’s Justice Project.

Since early 2017, the Law Council of Australia has been conducting a national review about access to justice in Australia for people who are experiencing significant disadvantage. This review has been done by the Law Council’s Justice Project. As part of the review process, about 150 consultations were held and 129 submissions received. A lot of the feedback and submissions highlighted the serious consequences for people when they are not able to access justice.

The Justice Project’s Final Report focuses on 13 priority groups identified as facing significant social and economic disadvantage. The report shines a light on justice issues for these groups by uncovering systemic flaws and identifying service gaps.

The final report comprises of 22 chapters and 59 recommendations. The chapter that focuses on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are affected in terms of their access to justice, includes a focus on the number of people in prison; and the key barriers to people accessing justice, including the lack of language interpreters.

The report states that a history of marginalisation and discrimination have affected people’s confidence and trust in the justice system. To address this distrust and to bridge cultural divides and communication gaps, the Final Report states that it is essential that ongoing cultural competence training is provided to those working within the justice system. Strategies to increase the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the sector are also important.

The report highlights that in Rural Regional and Remote areas, service gaps are even worse and that it is critical that government address the funding gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, legal aid services and Community Legal Centres.

The report also highlights concerns with the impact of income management – such as the Cashless Debit Card and Basics Card – as well as the Community Development Program on remote communities. The Law Council is critical of the Cashless Debit Card and the proposed roll-out of the Card to more communities, saying that there is sufficient evidence that it’s working and highlighting that the human rights impacts of the Cashless Debit Card have not been properly assessed or taken into account.

To find out more about the Justice Project and its final report, we talk with the President of the Law Council, Mr Morry Bailes.

This program was made possible with support from the Community Broadcasting Foundation. Find out more at cbf.org.au

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