Access to Justice

2015/16 Annual Report

Law Access Limited has now been running for just over 18 months, since 11 December 2014, as a service of last resort for those with meritorious cases and limited means unable to be assisted by Legal Aid or community legal centres. The Access to Justice Committee prior to the establishment of Law Access Limited performed two roles. The first was to assess the merit of applications to the Law Access Pro Bono Clearing House. That role has now been assumed by Law Access Limited with some continuing assistance with the assessment of complex cases from individual members of the Committee from time to time. The Committee receives reports from Law Access Limited, including in relation to its Stakeholder Advisory Committee and Lawyers for Refugees Network.

The second role of the Committee is a policy role contributing to Law Society policy positions and submissions. The Convenor also represents the Law Society on the Law Council of Australia Access to Justice, co-ordinating the positions taken at a State and National level on relevant issues.

On 21 January 2016 the Law Society’s Council, consistent with the view of the Committee, resolved to support the Law Council of Australia’s national legal aid funding campaign. It was assisted by the Productivity Commission Report on its Inquiry into Access to Justice Arrangements which had been presented late in 2015 and which the Law Society, through various committees, had reviewed and summarised.

The Committee Convenor represented the Law Society with the Law Council of Australia in relation to that campaign. A Law Society working group organised a panel forum with the theme Be Afraid Without Legal Aid on 28 April 2016 chaired by Law Society President, Elizabeth Needham. The panel included Appeal Justice the Hon Robert Mazza, Helen Creed, Executive Director of Community Legal Centres Inc. and Matthew Howard, Chair of the Mental Health Law Centre. As part of the campaign the Law Week Breakfast on 6 May 2016 featured the Hon Fred Chaney AO as keynote speaker, addressing the campaign theme, following a briefing by the Committee Convenor on the campaign. That event coincided with the National Day of Action.

For more information about this committee please email General Manager, Advocacy – Mary Woodford,