ContentJust Search pageLJF site navigationLeft navigation links
LJF Logo
Publications sectionJustice Awards sectionResearch sectionGrants sectionPlain language law sectionNetworks section
Just Search
 
Research Report: Legal Australia-Wide Survey: Legal need in Australia
cover image

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

3. Prevalence of legal problems



Print chapter

Prevalence of multiple legal problems


As mentioned above, 31.3 per cent of Australian respondents experienced multiple legal problems — that is, two or more legal problems. Multiple legal problems included:
    • multiple problems across more than one of the 12 problem groups
    • multiple problems of different types from the same problem group
    • multiple instances of the same specific problem type.

Figure 3.3 shows the number of respondents who experienced multiple legal problems across different problem groups. It can be seen that 24.0 per cent of all Australian respondents experienced one or more problems from only one of the 12 problem groups, while 12.1 per cent had problems from two problem groups, and 13.5 per cent had problems from three or more problem groups. Note that Figure 3.1 shows the total number of problems experienced per respondent, regardless of whether these problems were from the same problem group or from different problem groups. A comparison of Figures 3.1 and 3.3 reveals that only some of the respondents who experienced multiple legal problems had problems from different problem groups. For example, whereas 31.3 per cent of the sample experienced at least two legal problems (see Figure 3.1), only 25.6 per cent of the sample experienced problems from at least two problem groups (see Figure 3.3).

Figure 3.3: Prevalence of multiple legal problems across problem groups, Australia

Note: N=20 716 respondents.


Table 3.4 presents the number of respondents who experienced multiple legal problems from the same problem group or problem subgroup (see first data column). For example, respondents who had multiple problems from the housing problem group include respondents with different types of housing problems (e.g. both a ‘neighbours’ problem and a ‘mortgage payment’ problem) as well as respondents with multiple instances of the same type of problem (e.g. multiple ‘neighbours’ problems). The number of respondents with multiple problems from a particular problem group or problem subgroup is expressed both as a percentage of the respondents who experienced that type of problem (see second data column) and as a percentage of the entire sample (see third data column). For example, 948 respondents experienced multiple housing problems. These 948 respondents represented 38.9 per cent of the 2439 respondents with a housing problem and 4.6 per cent of the entire Australian sample of 20 716 respondents.


Table 3.4: Prevalence of multiple legal problems by problem group and problem subgroup, Australia

Problem group
Problem subgroup
Respondents with
multiple problems
Respondents with
problems
N
% of
respondents with this
problem type
% of all respondents
N
% of all respondents
Accidents
139
8.7
0.7
1 605
7.7
Consumer
1 917
44.9
9.3
4 269
20.6
Goods
472
33.1
2.3
1 423
6.9
Services
1 421
40.7
6.9
3 491
16.8
Credit/debt
562
42.4
2.7
1 327
6.4
Crime
1 213
41.1
5.9
2 954
14.3
Crime offender
112
32.1
0.5
350
1.7
Crime victim
1 109
40.4
5.4
2 748
13.3
Employment
511
39.6
2.5
1 290
6.2
Family
434
41.9
2.1
1 037
5.0
Childrena
321
45.0
1.5
714
3.4
Relationships
127
29.7
0.6
429
2.1
Government
797
35.8
3.8
2 224
10.7
Fines
204
36.5
1.0
560
2.7
Government payments
130
26.7
0.6
485
2.3
Local government
273
27.8
1.3
982
4.7
State/federal government
88
15.9
0.4
553
2.7
Health
242
35.0
1.2
691
3.3
Clinical negligence
117
25.4
0.6
462
2.2
Health services
98
45.5
0.5
215
1.0
Mental health
36
34.4
0.2
104
0.5
Housing
948
38.9
4.6
2 439
11.8
Neighbours
578
35.3
2.8
1 639
7.9
Owned housing
122
29.5
0.6
414
2.0
Rented housing
220
36.7
1.1
599
2.9
Other housing
6
0.0
0.0
18
0.1
Money
417
35.2
2.0
1 183
5.7
Business/investment
306
35.2
1.5
871
4.2
Wills/estates
86
22.4
0.4
384
1.9
Personal injury
332
23.0
1.6
1 444
7.0
Rights
604
50.3
2.9
1 202
5.8
Discrimination (outside work)
249
49.1
1.2
506
2.4
Education
267
52.8
1.3
505
2.4
Unfair treatment by police
109
36.3
0.5
299
1.4
Other civil
4
13.9
0.0
26
0.1
Unclassifiedb
0
0.0
0.0
5
0.0
All problem groups
6 486
63.0
31.3
10 289
49.7

a Includes problems related to grandchildren (see Appendix A1, question P28). Some respondents (1075) had missing information on whether they had grandchildren (see Appendix A1, question D6) and were not asked about legal problems related to grandchildren. Thus, the prevalence reported for the children problem subgroup may slightly underestimate the true prevalence.
b Comprises problems that were unclearly described by respondents at question P40 (see Appendix A1).
Note: N=20 716 respondents. Percentages do not sum to 100, because multiple problems were experienced by some respondents.

The second data column of Table 3.4 shows that problem groups and subgroups varied considerably in the proportion of multiple problems they comprised. For example, approximately half of the respondents who experienced rights (50.3%), consumer (44.9%) and credit/debt (42.4%) problems experienced multiple problems of these types. In contrast, only 8.7 per cent of the respondents who experienced accidents problems had multiple accidents problems.

The third data column shows that the problem group with the highest prevalence of multiple problems was the consumer problem group, with 9.3 per cent of the Australian sample experiencing multiple consumer problems. The crime, housing and government problem groups had the next highest prevalence of multiple problems, with 5.9, 4.6 and 3.8 per cent of all Australian respondents experiencing multiple problems of these types, respectively.

Although the consumer, credit/debt and rights problem groups comprised similarly high proportions of multiple problems (44.9%, 42.4% and 50.3%, respectively; see second data column), the prevalence of multiple consumer problems in the sample was higher than the prevalence of multiple credit/debt and multiple rights problems (9.3% versus 2.7% and 2.9%, respectively; see third data column). This finding is largely due to the higher overall prevalence of consumer problems compared to credit/debt and rights problems (20.6% versus 6.4% and 5.8%, respectively; see fifth data column).

  


CLOSE
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