Strategic advocacy and law reform

Strategic advocacy and law reform

We are committed to working on the justice system as well as within it.

As an organisation, we are obliged under the Legal Aid Act 1978 to seek innovative means of providing legal assistance to reduce the need for individual legal services. We are also required to provide the community with improved access to justice and legal remedies. One way of achieving this is by pursuing improvements in law and policy that result in better outcomes for our clients and the community more broadly. Strategic advocacy aims to address the root causes of legal problems and provide holistic remedies, rather than simply addressing them in isolation on an individual basis.

Our advocacy work is informed by our broad practice in family, youth, criminal, civil and administrative law. The breadth of our work means we are uniquely placed to identify opportunities for reform within the justice system.

Our work in this area includes:

  • running test cases to clarify points of law or challenging the way laws are applied in practice
  • making submissions to inquiries and reviews
  • advocating directly to government, the courts and private sectors to improve policies and processes
  • collaborating with other organisations on law reform initiatives.

Examples of our strategic advocacy work

Some recent examples of our strategic advocacy work include:

  • A landmark Supreme Court tenants’ rights case which established that low income renters have the right to expect that their housing is fit for occupation even where it is rented out at a low rate.
  • Our comprehensive submission to the Access to Justice Review, which highlighted among other things the urgency of eliminating barriers to access to justice for people in regional and outer-metropolitan areas .
  • Our collaboration with Mental Health Australia and Beyond Blue on a groundbreaking test case about discriminatory practices by insurers against people with mental illness.
  • Our active participation in the Family Violence Royal Commission, which contributed to securing commitments from the State government to expand specialist family violence courts across the state.

Strategic advocacy priorities

Our current strategic advocacy priorities, based on the issues faced by our clients are:

Access to justice for people with mental illness and disability

We aim to ensure that people with disability or mental health problems aren’t disadvantaged when exercising their legal rights.

Find out more about Access to justice for people with mental illness and disability.

Appropriate interventions for children and young people

We are committed to ensuring that the special needs of vulnerable children and young people are recognised and reflected in the justice system.

Find out more about Appropriate interventions for children and young people.

Consistent access to diversionary and support services state-wide

We are dedicated to ensuring that all people, wherever they live in Victoria, have access to appropriate diversionary and support services impacting on their legal problems.

More effective responses to gender inequality including sex discrimination and family violence

We are committed to contributing to system wide change that promotes gender equality and assists in reducing the incidence of sex discrimination and family violence.

Find out more about More effective responses to gender inequality including sex discrimination and family violence.

Other activities

To find out what other policy issues we are working on, see our other justice and law reform activities.

Contact

If you are interested to find out more about our strategic advocacy work or collaborate on a project, please contact Damian Stock, Senior Lawyer Social Inclusion, on (03) 9269 0698 or damian.stock@vla.vic.gov.au.