What legal and community leaders say about legal aid

What legal and community leaders say about legal aid

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Who says we need Victoria Legal Aid? (video transcript)

Professor John Tobin

Melbourne Law School, Melbourne University

'So if you believe in the right to a fair trial, we have to have access to legal aid lawyers. If you believe in the idea of justice, we have to have access to legal aid lawyers. If you believe in the idea that liberty should be deprived only as a measure of last resort, we have to have legal aid lawyers. If you believe in the idea that justice depends on how much you earn, then we have to have access to legal aid lawyers.'

Hon. Justice Chris Maxwell

President, Victorian Court of Appeal

'Without VLA performing that function on behalf of people who can’t represent themselves, can’t afford legal assistance and are fighting against considerable public opprobrium the rule of law in Victoria would simply not be honoured.'

Fiona McLeay

CEO Justice Connect

'Legal aid. It’s about a fair go. It’s a vital part of the web of support. It’s as important as Medicare and free education. It’s about making sure that the powerful don’t take advantage of the weak.'

Denis Nelthorpe

Manager, Footscray and Wyndham CLC

'Ordinary people have ordinary needs. They need to keep a roof over their head, food in the fridge and they need to keep the lights on. And we need organisations like Victoria Legal Aid to make sure that happens.'

Professor Mary Anne Noone

Latrobe University

'There are people in our community who suffer more legal problems than others. Those groups include the homeless, the poor, the sole parent, the disabled, the chronically ill. Those people have many more legal problems than the rest of the population. Those people have problems which affect their wellbeing, their income their housing. Having a well-resourced legal aid system enables them to have decisions made about their lives which are fair and just. And by giving voice to many of their issues we are also enhancing our justice system.'

Hon. Justice Michael Rozenes

Chief Judge, County Court

'Hard to imagine how Victoria’s criminal justice system, in particular the Victorian County Court would operate without a well-functioning legal aid system and Victoria Legal Aid certainly provides that.'

Hugh de Kretser

Executive Director, Human Rights Law Centre

Publicly accessible legal aid is absolutely vital. If people can’t enforce their rights under the law, the law becomes effectively meaningless. And often free legal help is the difference between being able to enforce your rights or having no rights at all.'

Kate Jenkins

Commissioner Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

'We really value the role that Victorian Legal Aid plays in ensuring that people can access justice regardless of their means.'

Hon Justice Victoria Bennett

Family Court

'The contribution of Victoria Legal Aid to achieving justice with all that concept implies in terms of fairness and transparency is vital and well recognised. Vulnerable litigants need legal aid and justice requires that vulnerable litigants be appropriately represented.'

Emeritus Professor Arie Frieberg

Monash University

'VLA has a very important role in representing the majority of criminal offenders in Victoria. In particular its role in strategic litigation as evidenced in the guideline judgement handed down late last year by the Court of Appeal which will change the course of sentencing history in Victoria.'

Katie Miller

President, Law Institute of Victoria

'Victoria Legal Aid is an integral part of the legal profession. Together with private practitioners and the courts Victoria Legal Aid ensures that everyone has access to justice.'

Andrew McGregor

Solicitor, Children’s Court

'If there were no legal aid children’s voices would not be heard in the court process.'

Hon. Justice Peter Couzens

President, Children’s Court

'They also provide representation for families in the conciliation conferencing area. That is vital in terms of trying to resolves as many cases as possible so to avoid the trauma and expense and time delays associated with defendant hearings. The fact is that without an effective legal aid office, the work of this court would grind to a halt.'

Dr Stefan Gruenert

CEO Odyssey House

'And without services like VLA and the passionate lawyers that you employ our clients wouldn’t really get access to fairness and access to justice that they deserve. And that might be helping them out with infringements or other legal issues that they have no understanding of how to navigate the system, so thank you VLA.'

Text: Victoria Legal Aid

More information

Our Strategy 2015–18 sets out three strategic directions will guide us in working with our partners in the justice and community sector to improve the way Victorians access justice.