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

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4. Nature of legal problems

As already discussed, 10 289 of the 20 716 Australian survey respondents reported experiencing one or more legal problems in the 12 months prior to interview, with a total of 52 950 problems being reported.(1) Respondents who reported experiencing legal problems were asked a series of in-depth questions about up to three of their most serious problems, including questions about the nature of each problem, the actions taken in response to the problem and the outcome of the problem.(2) This pool of problems constituted a total of 19 388 problems. These problems (or subsets of these problems) are used for all of the analyses reported in the current and subsequent results chapters.(3)

This chapter presents information about the nature of these 19 388 problems, including the other side in the problems, the recency of the problems and the adverse health and social consequences of the problems. The chapter also examines the extent to which problems of different types were likely to cluster or occur together.

1. As a result of rounding weighted data, some numbers and percentages in the report do not sum precisely to totals.

2. See Chapter 2, ‘Method: Survey instrument’ section for further details about how this pool of ‘most serious’ problems was selected.

3. For convenience, this pool of 19 388 problems is referred to as ‘all problems’ throughout the remainder of the report, including in tables and figures.


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