Victoria Legal Aid makes submission to Productivity Commission inquiry

Victoria Legal Aid makes submission to Productivity Commission inquiry

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Victoria Legal Aid’s submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry explains the steps we are taking to resolve disputes at the earliest opportunity and improve access to justice.

Our submission describes how effective strategic advocacy is cost effective and can deliver lasting benefits for the community.

Strategic advocacy contributes to improvements in the justice system by addressing those practices that disproportionately affect legally aided clients. The benefits are not merely around clarifying the law, but being able to assist thousands of people in a single action. This ensures our clients are treated fairly while also increasing access to justice for the broader community.

Our work on cases such as Keating and Taha and Brookes demonstrate how advocacy of this kind also saves the courts and the community money.

Managing Director Bevan Warner said our submission highlights the important role the legal assistance sector plays in promoting access to justice.

'Our client constituency is broader than the individual clients who can access grants of legal assistance. We know that for every person we are able to assist, there will be others who miss out. Effective strategic advocacy is therefore one way for us to make sure we can maximise the impact of our work.

'Prevention, early intervention and targeted strategic advocacy are all critical components of the work we do to enable the Legal Aid Fund to stretch further to ensure greater access to justice for the most vulnerable in our community. While often construed as secondary or optional, community legal education, information and strategic advocacy are statutory functions and rightly form part of our core business.'

Our submission also highlights the strengths of the mixed model of service delivery and the important roles played by legal aid commissions, the private profession and the community legal sector.

Findings from past reviews consistently highlight that true access to justice remains an aspiration, rather than a reality. Victoria Legal Aid therefore welcomes the inquiry as the issue of access to justice continues to attract significant public attention in the face of rising demand for legal need and increasing costs.

Victoria Legal Aid looks forward to making further contributions through upcoming roundtable discussions and on the substantive proposals that will be canvassed in the commission’s draft report in April 2014.

More information

Read our submission to the Access to Justice Arrangements inquiry.

See the Productivity Commission's website for more information about the inquiry.

 

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