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Research Report: Legal Australia-Wide Survey: Legal need in Australia
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Legal Australia-Wide Survey: Legal need in Australia  ( 2012 )  Cite this report

10. A holistic approach to justice

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Justice for disadvantaged people

The LAW Survey replicates previous findings that disadvantaged groups are typically the sections of the community that are most vulnerable to legal problems and often struggle with the weight of the multiple legal problems they experience. A small minority of people account for the majority of the legal problems experienced by the population,(2) and disadvantaged people are particularly likely to fall into this minority group. Disadvantaged people are not only more likely to experience large numbers of legal problems, but they are also more likely to experience a wide range of often substantial legal problems. The present findings according to a variety of measures indicate that people with a disability constitute the disadvantaged group that is most vulnerable to legal problems. However, other disadvantaged groups, including single parents, unemployed people, people living in disadvantaged housing and Indigenous people, also have increased vulnerability to legal problems. In addition, by virtue of their socioeconomic status, disadvantaged groups often have a variety of non-legal needs. Thus, the present findings underscore the value of tailoring access to justice in Australia to meet the needs of disadvantaged groups and indicate that access to justice is an important route to tackling social exclusion (e.g. Pleasence 2006). Arguably, meeting the legal needs of disadvantaged groups should be a major priority of justice policy, given that a substantial proportion of the legal problems within the population are concentrated within these groups.

2. In each jurisdiction, just under one-tenth of respondents accounted for around two-thirds of the legal problems reported.


Coumarelos, C, Macourt, D, People, J, MacDonald, HM, Wei, Z, Iriana, R & Ramsey, S 2012, Legal Australia-Wide Survey: legal need in Australia, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney