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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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Multifaceted justice for diverse legal needs

The LAW Survey also reiterates that legal problems are not the exclusive domain of the disadvan­taged but are encountered routinely by people from all walks of life, including people of all ages and people from more affluent backgrounds. Thus, the LAW Survey reinforces the fundamental role of access to justice in promoting well-being throughout the wider community. It stresses the crucial importance of an access to justice system that facilitates the effective resolution of the wide range of legal problems commonly experienced by the general public (e.g. Coumarelos et al. 2006; Currie 2007b; Genn 1999; Pleasence 2006; Sandefur 2008, 2009). Justice policy must be framed in a broader context than that of social exclusion to enable all citizens to resolve their legal problems (Currie 2007b; Genn 1999; Pleasence 2006).

In addition to diversity in the experience of legal problems, the LAW Survey confirms that there is also diversity in people’s responses to these problems and the outcomes they achieve. Some people ignore their legal problems and achieve poor outcomes. Others have high levels of legal knowledge and capability, and ably use self-help strategies to achieve favourable solutions without seeking expert advice. Many of those who seek expert advice consult only non-legal professionals and resolve their legal problems successfully without recourse to the formal justice system. Some people, however, require considerable assistance from both legal and non-legal services to address their multiple, serious and complex legal and non-legal needs.

This diversity in the experience, handling and outcome of legal problems makes clear that a comprehensive approach to justice must be multifaceted. No single strategy is likely to be successful in obtaining justice for all people. Multifaceted approaches to justice that integrate a variety of strategies are increasingly being propounded in order to cater for all sections of the community and to target limited resources effectively (Coumarelos et al. 2006; Macdonald 2005; Pleasence 2006).


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