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Access to justice and legal needs. Stage 1: public consultations  ( 2003 )  Cite this report

Ch 1. Who is disadvantaged in seeking access to justice?

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1.32 The NSW Department for Women submission noted that the Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry Equality before the law – justice for women39 examined the disadvantage women experience with respect to the legal system. The Commission was concerned with systemic discrimination and how it operates to affect equal opportunity and status for women, notably in the areas of gender-based violence, including domestic violence and sexual assault, and family law.40

1.33 The Department’s submission goes on to state that many of the disadvantages experienced by women that were identified in the ALRC inquiry still exist today:

    Notwithstanding changes to both law and practice …. the detrimental impact on women in these areas of the law remains substantively unchanged. Indeed, in the area of family law, it has been argued that the impact of the reforms embodied in the Family Law Reform Act 1995 has been detrimental to women, by creating "greater scope for an abusive non-resident parent to harass or interfere in the life of the child’s primary caregiver by challenging her decisions and choices".41

Equality before the Law: Justice for Women, Australian Law Reform Commission Report No. 69, 1994.
Submission from the NSW Department for Women.

39  Equality before the Law: Justice for Women, Australian Law Reform Commission Report No. 69, 1994.
40  Submission from the NSW Department for Women.
41  Ibid.

Schetzer, L. & Henderson, J 2003, Public consultations: a project to identify legal needs, pathways and barriers for disadvantaged people in NSW, Access to justice and legal needs vol. 1, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney