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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 4. The response to legal events



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Type of response to legal events


Survey participants were asked whether or not they had sought any help, advice or information in relation to their three most recent legal events. Figure 4.1 summarises the three main types of action taken by participants in response to these events. Participants sought help for just over half (1496 or 51.2%) of the 2921 legal events, handled the matter alone in response to 467 or 16.0 per cent of events, and took no action in response to the remaining 958 or 32.8 per cent of events.

Figure 4.1: Action taken in response to legal events, all six LGAs, 2003

Note: N=2921 events.

Participants who did not seek help in response to legal events were asked to provide the ‘most important’ reason why they did not do so. The participants who handled the matter themselves cited this as the reason why they did not seek help. Table 4.1 presents the most important reason provided for not seeking help in response to the 958 events where participants took no action.2 The two most frequently cited most important reasons for taking no action were that the participant did not perceive the event to be serious or did not realise its seriousness (28.7%), and that the participant thought seeking help would make no difference or make things worse (26.1%). Other reasons for taking no action included the respondent having other priorities (11.1%), and the respondent not knowing how to seek help or not being easily able to get there (9.5%). Not being able to afford help was cited as the most important reason for doing nothing in only 3.9 per cent of events.

Table 4.1: Most important reason for doing nothing in response to legal events, all six LGAs, 2003

Most important reasonEvents where participants did nothing
No.
%
Problem not serious enough/didn’t realise how serious it was
253
28.7
Thought it would make no difference/make things worse
230
26.1
Had bigger problems/too busy/thought it would take too long
98
11.1
Didn’t know how to get help/couldn’t get there
84
9.5
Waiting it out/hoping it would resolve itself
67
7.6
Problem resolved before I got around to seeking help
59
6.7
Couldn’t afford it
34
3.9
Thought it was my fault
33
3.7
No internet access
13
1.5
Didn’t trust anyone/embarrassed
11
1.2
Total
882
100
Note: Most important reason was not provided for 76 events.

The most important reason for not seeking help was missing for 76 of these 958 events.

 The most important reason for not seeking help was missing for 76 of these 958 events.


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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