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Research Report: Justice made to measure: NSW legal needs survey in disadvantaged areas
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Justice made to measure: NSW legal needs survey in disadvantaged areas  ( 2006 )  Cite this report

Ch 1. Introduction



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Status of research on legal events in Australia


As detailed earlier, a large-scale survey measuring the incidence of a broad range of legal events has not been conducted in Austraian in recent years. The Cass and Sackville (1975) study was conducted 30 years ago and restricted to Sydney, the study reported by Fishwick (1992) examined a set of only 11 legal events and the Rush (1999) study was narrowly focused on Commonwealth legal issues.

Furthermore, since the Cass and Sackville (1975) study, the legal service provision landscape in Australia has changed quite dramatically, including the development of state-funded legal aid schemes and the establishment of an extensive network of community legal services.22 There have also been significant changes in the law, such as the introduction of the Family Law Act 1975.

The appropriate targeting of legal services in any given jurisdiction requires a comprehensive understanding of the number and type of legal events people experience, what people do when faced with legal events, what legal services are available, how people use the existing legal services and what they think about any assistance they receive. Given the lack of recent comprehensive surveys of legal need and the significant changes in legal service provision over the last few decades, there is clearly a need for an up-to-date assessment of the incidence, handling and outcome of a broad range of legal events in Australian jurisdictions. This need is further underlined by the fact that existing studies demonstrate that the incidence, handling and outcome of legal events are not fixed, but vary across jurisdictions and populations.



Legal Aid NSW was established under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 to improve access to justice by providing a range of legal services to socially and economically disadvantaged people across NSW (Legal Aid Commission of NSW 2004). Community legal centres have been operating in NSW since 1977 and there are now 40 such centres across the state (http://www.nswclc.org.au).

22  Legal Aid NSW was established under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 to improve access to justice by providing a range of legal services to socially and economically disadvantaged people across NSW (Legal Aid Commission of NSW 2004). Community legal centres have been operating in NSW since 1977 and there are now 40 such centres across the state (http://www.nswclc.org.au).


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Coumarelos, C, Wei , Z & Zhou, AH 2006, Justice made to measure: NSW legal needs survey in disadvantaged areas, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney