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Research Report: Data Digest LawAccess 2002-2004 Report
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Data Digest LawAccess 2002-2004 Report  ( 2007 )  Cite this report

LawAccess NSW 2002-2004



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Background


  • LawAccess NSW (www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au) is a free government telephone service that provides legal information, advice and referrals for people who have a legal problem in NSW. LawAccess was set up to assist people who have difficulty in accessing other public legal services. In particular, LawAccess assists customers who:
    • are living in regional or rural NSW;
    • are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders;
    • have a disability;
    • are from a non-English speaking background.
  • LawAccess data were available for the 2002 to 2004 calendar years representing 253,079 inquiries.
  • These data were loaded into the Law and Justice Foundation's Data Digest Prototype, an interactive, integrated data analysis and mapping application. The Prototype was used to generate most of the information contained in this report.
  • The inquiry was the unit of measure for all data analyses. For each inquiry, available information was analysed on the type of legal matter, the source of inquiry to LawAccess, the destination of any referral made by LawAccess, and the demographic characteristics of the person who made the inquiry.
  • The demographic data collected by LawAccess comprised gender, age and region of residence.1
  • Data for each variable were mapped to common categories, wherever possible.
  • Legal matters were categorised into three tiers using a classification developed by the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW for the initial Data Digest (2004) report. This classification system — involving Broad, Specific and Detailed areas of law — has been largely preserved. Nonetheless, the system has changed in a number of ways to incorporate suggestions from legal service agencies and to provide additional granularity, particularly in relation to matters categorised under family law.2 Appendix A presents the taxonomy of legal matters used by the Foundation to categorise and standardise legal inquiries data.
  • Changes over time or differences in the nature of inquiries between demographic groups that were found to be statistically significant are identified in this report through the use of the term 'significant' (in italics). Chi-square tests were used to determine significance but are not reported in the text. For a brief explanation of chi-square tests see Appendix B.
  • Two relative measures are used in this report to take into consideration population differences across the various areas of NSW:
    1. The relative number of inquiries was calculated as a Rate per 1000 using resident population figures from the 2001 Census.3
    2. The Index of Concentration (IC) was calculated to show whether a particular group (e.g. males) made a higher or lower proportion of inquiries than expected given their share in the population. An IC over 100 indicates that the particular group made a higher proportion of inquiries than expected given their proportion in the population. An IC under 100 indicates a lower proportion of inquiries than expected. Additional detail on the Index of Concentration, including the calculation method, is provided in Appendix C.


LawAccess NSW also records information on the language spoken by the inquirer. This information was not used in analyses as English was recorded for 99.9% of inquiries.
The two main changes involved moving domestic violence inquiries from crime to family and sub-dividing all previous matters categorised under family law into three new specific areas of law: children, financial matters and relationships.
NSW resident population figures were obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics SEIFA 2001 CD. These figures may differ slightly from those used in the Foundation`s 2004 Data Digest report.

 LawAccess NSW also records information on the language spoken by the inquirer. This information was not used in analyses as English was recorded for 99.9% of inquiries.
 The two main changes involved moving domestic violence inquiries from crime to family and sub-dividing all previous matters categorised under family law into three new specific areas of law: children, financial matters and relationships.
 NSW resident population figures were obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics SEIFA 2001 CD. These figures may differ slightly from those used in the Foundation`s 2004 Data Digest report.


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Cain, M 2007, Data digest reports, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney