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How do you know what legal problems people in your area are experiencing?

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How do you know what legal problems people in your area are experiencing?. To ascertain ‘unmet’ legal need large scale telephone surveys (6 disadvantaged LGAs in NSW; Statewide) Qualitative research projects re disadvantaged groups (in- depth interviews, statistics, literature).

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access to justice and legal needs research program
To ascertain ‘unmet’ legal need

large scale telephone surveys (6 disadvantaged LGAs in NSW; Statewide)

Qualitative research projects re disadvantaged groups (in- depth interviews, statistics, literature)

Access to justice and legal needs research program
legal need survey what people did about a legal event
Legal need survey:What people did about a legal event
  • Common response was to do nothing
  • Considerable proportion handled the matter alone without outside help

(Justice made to measure)

why people did not seek help
Problem not serious enough/ didn’t realise how serious it was (30%)

Thought seeking help would make no difference/make things worse (26%)

Had bigger problems/ too busy/ thought it would take too long (11%)

Didn’t know how to get help/ couldn’t get there (10%)

Why people did not seek help
type of legal adviser
Type of legal adviser
  • Legal advice of some sort in 26%
  • But legal adviser was a traditional legal service provider in only 12%
type of non legal adviser
Type of non-legal adviser
  • Non-legal professionals used frequently
    • doctor, counsellor, accountant 25%
  • Choice of adviser was generally appropriate
    • e.g. school staff for education events
identifying legal need demographic data
What are the key characteristics of your community?

Population size and age

CALD, ATSI, home ownership, employment

Identifying legal need: demographic data
how does your area differ from other areas on certain measures nsw
How does your area differ from other areas on certain measures (NSW)?
how does your area compare on socioeconomic seifa indices for area on relative disadvantage
How does your area compare on socioeconomic (SEIFA) indices for area, on relative disadvantage?

data digest expressed legal need
Data from main publicly funded legal services (Legal Aid, LawAccess, CLCs) re:

Types of legal matters inquires made about

Demographic characteristics & location of inquirers

Pathways people take to resolve legal issues

Changes in types of inquiries over time

Rates of inquires for different legal issue by population groups and areas of NSW

Data Digest 3:

On line by June 2008

Create own reports by area, demographic, legal issue etc.

Data Digest: ‘expressed’ legal need
legal needs identified in different disadvantaged groups

Legal needs identified in different disadvantaged groups

One source:

Law and Justice Foundation of NSW,

Access to Justice and Legal Needs Research Program

incidence of legal events
Diversity of experience

Some people – resilient

Others - multiple events

Those with 3+ events accounted for 79% of all events reported

Some people appear to be particularly vulnerable

Incidence of legal events
legal need in disadvantaged communities
Civil, family, criminal law events common in disadvantaged communities

Some events co-occur:

general crime, consumer, government, accident/injury and employment events

family and domestic violence events

business and credit/debt events

Legal need in disadvantaged communities

(Justice Made to Measure)

homeless people
Entering homelessness:

Family/DV, debt, housing (rent arrears, damage, eviction, discrimination)

Entrenched homelessness:

fines, victim of crime, social security, policing

Multiple and inter-related legal issues and social issues (AOD, mental illness)

Homeless people

(No home, no justice?)

people with mental illness
Mental Health Act 1990 (NSW), adult guardianship

Discrimination (employment, education, insurance)

Housing: DOH, private rental, boarding house

Social security: eligibility, breaching, debt, fraud

Consumer: credit card, phone/contractual debt, banking

Domestic violence, victim of crime

Family law, care and protection

People with mental illness

(On the edge of justice)

older people
Housing: Home ownership, tenancy, aged care, retirement village and residential park

Health: Advanced care directives, complaints,

Finance: Social security/veterans, super, credit/debit, consumer

Power of Attorney, wills, guardianship issues


Elder abuse

Family: grandparenting issues

Older people

(Legal needs, older people)

legal need at different ages peaks
Legal need at different ages: peaks

(Justice Made to Measure)

chronic disease disability
Overall 1.7 times more likely than others to have had a legal event

consumer events



credit and debt

crime and family


Chronic disease & disability

(Justice Made to Measure)

indigenous people
More likely than others to have had



family events

less likely to prepare or alter wills.

(Justice Made to Measure)

Indigenous people
More likely than others to have had


General crime



(Justice Made to Measure)

The Law and Justice Foundation of NSW is in the process of developing an interactive computer application with, integrated data mining and spatial mapping capabilities. The main aims of the Data Digest 3 (DD3) project are:

to enhance the description, analysis and interpretation of legal need in NSW, particularly as it is expressed by socially and economically disadvantaged persons.

to assist the public legal sector in the modelling, planning and delivery of legal assistance services in NSW

Data Digest 3

data digest 3
DD3 will contain de-identified legal inquiries records from Legal Aid, LawAccess and CLCs

DD3 will allow users to generate information on:

the type of legal matter for which inquiries are made;

the demographic characteristics of those who seek assistance;

the pathways that service users take to resolve their problems;

changes in legal inquiries over time;

the rate of legal inquiries for particular population groups and/or geographic areas of NSW; and,

spatial maps of legal need and how legal need relates to socio-economic measures, such as Census indicators of disadvantage.

Data Digest 3
clsd objectives
Disadvantaged people able to efficiently & effectively access legal services.

Legal need & equity in provision of legal services & resources.

Legal services in a region planned & delivered in a co-ordinated & co-operative manner.

CLSD Objectives
clsd goals
Maximise the use of resources in the region.

Extend region’s capacity to meet demand through co-operative arrangements.

Improve access to pro bono in regional and rural areas.

Outcomes: Success measured by capacity to enhance access to a broader, more effective range of legal services within the region.

CLSD Goals
clsd strategies
Regional coalitions of key legal service providers.

Improved referral mechanisms.

Evidence-based planning of legal services.

Improved access to pro bono.

Central co-ordination through Legal Aid NSW.

CLSD Strategies
clsd regions
Regionally based approach, divides the State into regional coalitions of legal services comprising:

Legal Aid (Head Office & local reps)

Community Legal Centres

Aboriginal Legal Services

Regional Law Societies

Local Courts

Community Justice Centres

Tenancy Services

Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Schemes (WDVCASs)

Financial Counsellors

Family Relationship Centres

Disability Services

Pro bono providers

OTHERS on ad hoc/informal basis - quasi-legal/related bodies (Local Govt, Govt agencies - Centrelink etc)

CLSD Regions
evidence based planning
  • Use LawAccess NSW data to highlight trends (e.g. a high level of credit and debt matters in Dubbo), age differences in clients.
  • Demographic & Jurisdictional data
  • Anecdotal
  • Forward planning
  • Joint submissions for resources to the regions/systemic issues

1. Shoal Coast (Nowra)

  • Legal Aid Nowra:
    • Civil – 1 Legal Officer (LO), 1 Homeless LO (24 Months)
    • Family – 1.5 LO in Nowra, 0.5 LO (operating from Bega)
    • Crime – 2 LO’s
  • Shoal Coast CLC (Nowra)
  • ALS Nowra
  • FRC Nowra
  • WDVCAS Nowra
  • Illawarra & South Coast Tenants Advice & Advocacy Service (Warrawong)
  • Southern NSW Aboriginal TAAS (Batemans Bay) services Illawarra
  • Pro bono