Public Understanding of Law Survey assists evidence-based decisions

Public Understanding of Law Survey assists evidence-based decisions

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Designing legal services that meet people’s needs requires an understanding of the public’s experiences and perspectives – it’s central to bottom-up, practical access to justice. The Victoria Law Foundation’s Public Understanding of Law Survey (PULS) will assist to achieve this goal.

The PULS is a Victoria-wide survey exploring how people experience, understand and navigate law and everyday life problems. It will place the Victorian public’s voice at the heart of policy making, supporting policy and services that reflect real experience. It will also help Victoria Legal Aid to make evidence-based decisions based on need.

Many of you will have come across legal need surveys such as the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW’s Legal Australia-Wide Survey, and the PULS has a legal need survey at its core – the standard method to understand experience of everyday legal problems around the world.

However, the PULS does much more. It captures and quantifies legal capabilities, including the knowledge, skills, attributes and resources you might need to deal with everyday legal problems. Capturing them gives us a better understanding of why people take particular paths to justice, and how we might make these paths easier to follow. It also helps us think about the type, level and complexity of services that different people might need, which is critical to making justice accessible to all, and making the best use of limited resources.

The PULS captures a broad range of perspectives, so we can confidently generalise findings to the Victorian public as a whole. To do this, 6000 adults will be interviewed in 300 geographic areas across Victoria. Importantly, the PULS uses probability sampling, which means all adults living in residential addresses have a chance of inclusion.

The PULS is being conducted by the Victoria Law Foundation’s research team, including Professor Nigel Balmer and Dr Hugh McDonald, leading authorities on legal need and legal capability. The project team also includes internationally renowned scholars, Professors Pascoe Pleasence (UK) and Rebecca Sandefur (US). The PULS fieldwork is being conducted by Roy Morgan.

More information

Learn more about the Public Understanding of Law Survey

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