ContentJust Search pageLJF site navigationLeft navigation links
LJF Logo
Publications sectionJustice Awards sectionResearch sectionGrants sectionPlain language law sectionNetworks section
Just Search
 
Research Report: Justice made to measure: NSW legal needs survey in disadvantaged areas
cover image

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

Ch 5. Seeking help for legal events



Print chapter
Search or view whole report
View PDF

Barriers to assistance


Participants who sought help were asked whether they had experienced any barriers in trying to obtain help from any adviser. As shown in Table 5.8, participants reported that they did not experience any barriers in attempting to obtain help in relation to approximately three-fifths of legal events.18 However, one or more barriers were reported for 38.2 per cent of the legal events where participants sought help. The three most commonly reported barriers to obtaining help were difficulty getting through on the telephone (experienced in 18.4% of events where help was sought), delay in getting a response (17.0%) and difficulty getting an appointment (11.0%). Other barriers to obtaining help were the lack of local services (8.1%), problems with opening hours (7.6%), difficulty affording the assistance (6.0%), and difficulty understanding the advice or information given (4.7%).

Table 5.8: Barriers to obtaining assistance from any adviser, all six LGAs, 2003

Type of barrier
Events where help sought
No.
%
No problem
770
61.8
Telephone engaged/on hold too long
229
18.4
Delay in getting response
212
17
Difficulty getting an appointment
137
11
Lack of local services/couldn’t get there
101
8.1
Problem with opening hours
95
7.6
Difficulty affording it
75
6
Difficulty understanding advice/information
58
4.7
No ability to access the internet
30
2.4
Embarrassed to be seen using services
22
1.8
English language problems
19
1.5
Inadequate/incorrect information/advice
17
1.4
Adviser reluctant/refused to help
13
1
Adviser/service had limited power to help
11
0.9
Other
19
1.5
Notes: N=1246 events. Information on barriers was missing for 250 events where help was sought. Multiple barriers were sometimes reported for the same event.

Table 5.9 presents the barriers to obtaining assistance according to the type of adviser used. This table is based on the 929 events where only one adviser was used.19 No barriers were reported in approximately four-fifths or more of the events where participants sought help from friends or relatives, but in approximately two-thirds or less of the events where they sought help from other advisers. The barriers reported in obtaining assistance from a traditional legal adviser were not strikingly different from those reported in relation to other advisers. However, there was a tendency for slightly higher percentages of respondents using a traditional legal adviser to report difficulty affording the advice (10.1% for traditional legal advisers compared with 3.7–6.9% for other advisers) and a lack of locally available services (10.1% for traditional legal advisers compared with 1.7–8.1% for other advisers).

Table 5.9: Barriers to obtaining assistance from sole adviser by type of adviser, all six LGAs, 2003

Type of barrier
% of events where adviser used
Traditional legala
Lawyer friend/relative
Publishedb
LEGAL ADVISERc
Other friend/ relative
Governmentd
Police/complaint handing
Othere
NON-LEGAL ADVISERf
No problem
69.7
87.9
69.7
75.3
79.2
60.6
50
69.4
67.8
Telephone engaged/on hold too long
12.1
5.2
18.2
11.1
8.3
24.4
26.9
11.9
14.7
Delay in getting response
10.1
3.4
6.1
7.4
11.1
19.4
23.1
12.9
14.5
Difficulty getting an appointment
9.1
3.4
3
6.3
4.2
12.5
7.7
7.7
8.4
Lack of local services/couldn’t get there
10.1
1.7
3
6.3
4.2
8.1
3.8
5
5.5
Problem with opening hours
5.1
3.4
0
3.7
4.2
8.8
7.7
5.6
6.2
Difficulty affording it
10.1
5.2
6.1
7.9
6.9
3.8
3.8
3.7
4.1
Difficulty understanding advice/information
3
0
6.1
2.6
4.2
5.6
3.8
1.9
3
No ability to access the internet
2
0
6.1
2.1
0
3.1
0
1.9
1.9
Embarrassed to be seen using services
0
1.7
0
0.5
1.4
1.3
0
0.6
0.8
English language problems
0
1.7
0
0.5
0
1.3
0
1.7
1.4
Inadequate/incorrect information/advice
1
0
0
0.5
0
1.3
3.8
0.8
0.9
Adviser reluctant/refused to help
0
0
0
0
0
1.3
0
1.2
1.1
Adviser/service had limited power to help
0
0
0
0
0
2.5
0
0.6
0.9
Other
0
1.7
0
0.5
1.4
0.6
7.7
1.2
1.4
No. of events
99
58
33
190
72
160
26
481
739
a Includes private solicitor/barrister, local court, Legal Aid NSW, LawAccess NSW, Aboriginal legal services and CLCs.
b Includes the internet and self-help source.
c Includes the categories of traditional legal adviser, lawyer friend/relative and published source.
d Includes government organisation, local council and member of parliament.
e Includes other professional, school/school counsellor/teacher, non-legal community group, private agency/organisation, company/business/bank, insurance company/broker, trade union/professional body, library, employer and other tribunal.
f Includes the categories of other (non-lawyer) friend/relative, government source, police/complaint handling body and other adviser.

Notes: N=929 events where only one adviser was used. Multiple barriers were sometimes reported in obtaining help from the sole adviser. A significance test was not conducted.

Distance

Table 5.10 shows the distance participants travelled to obtain help from the sole or most useful adviser, by type of region. Overall, participants obtained help without travelling for 44.0 per cent of the legal events where help was sought.20 In many cases, this finding reflects events where help was sought from friends, relatives or the internet, and in other cases is likely to reflect instances where participants obtained information, advice or assistance via the telephone.21 However, in 4.9 per cent of events where help was sought, participants travelled more than 80 kilometres.

A chi-square test was conducted to test whether the distance travelled to obtain assistance depended on whether participants lived in Sydney, the provincial LGA of Newcastle or one of the rural/remote LGAs surveyed. Not surprisingly, the chi-square was significant. Whereas Sydney and Newcastle residents were required to travel over 20 kilometres in response to only 6.5 per cent of the events where they sought help, residents of the rural/remote areas were required to travel over 20 kilometres in response to one-quarter of the events where they sought help. In 12.1 per cent of cases where residents of the rural/remote areas sought help, they travelled over 80 kilometres.

Table 5.10: Distance travelled to obtain assistance from sole or most useful adviser by type of region, all six LGAs, 2003

Distance travelled (kilometres)
Sydney (Campbelltown, Fairfield & South Sydney LGAs)
Provincial (Newcastle LGA)
Rural/remote (Nambucca and Walgett LGAs)
All six LGAs
No. of events
% of events
No. of events
% of events
No. of events
% of events
No. of events
% of events
Didn’t need to travel
309
48.1
71
35.5
169
41.6
549
44
< 3
137
21.3
41
20.5
67
16.5
245
19.6
4–10
112
17.4
51
25.5
34
8.4
197
15.8
11–20
42
6.5
24
12
36
8.9
102
8.2
21–80
38
5.9
5
2.5
51
12.6
94
7.5
81+
4
0.6
8
4
49
12.1
61
4.9
Total
642
100
200
100
406
100
1248
100
Notes: Distance travelled was missing for 248 events where help was sought. ?2=132.09, df=10, p=0.000.

Special services

Participants were also asked whether they needed access to any special services in order to obtain assistance from any adviser they used (see Table 5.11). Special services were required in order to obtain assistance in response to 4.8 per cent (59) of the events where participants sought help.22 The special services that participants reported requiring included medical or counselling help or assistance, home visits or special transport, financial help or assistance, help reading or understanding complex information, wheelchair access, an interpreter, a place for children to play and access to an outreach service.

Participants who reported requiring special services were asked whether they managed to obtain these services. These services were obtained for 71.2 per cent (42) of the 59 events where participants required special services.

Table 5.11: Special services required to obtain assistance from any adviser, all six LGAs, 2003

Type of special serviceEvents where help sought
No.
%
No special service required
1161
95.2
Medical/counselling help/assistance
16
1.3
Home visit or special transport
8
0.7
Financial help/assistance
8
0.7
Help reading/understanding complex information
6
0.5
Wheelchair access
4
0.3
An interpreter
4
0.3
Place for children to play
3
0.2
Outreach service
2
0.2
Othera
15
1.2
a Includes access to parking, access to disability facilities, use of human resources, special consideration for deferring university study, attending a debriefing and services that were insufficiently described by participants.
Notes: N=1220 events. Information on special services was missing for 276 events where help was sought. Multiple special services were sometimes required for the same event.

Information on barriers was missing for 250 events where help was sought.
Participants were asked about barriers in relation to events. When a participant sought help from multiple advisers for the same event, information was not collected on which adviser was associated with the barrier experienced. Given that multiple barriers were sometimes reported for the same event, the observations were not independent. A significance test was not conducted.
Distance travelled was missing for 248 of the 1496 events where help was sought.
Participants did not need to travel in about one-third of cases where a traditional legal adviser was used. In contrast, they did not need to travel in about half or more of the cases where a friend or relative (lawyer or non-lawyer) or the internet was used. Participants also did not need to travel in about half or more of the cases where a government organisation, the police, a private organisation/agency, a company/business/bank, an insurance company/broker, a trade union/professional body or an employer was used.
Information on special services was missing for 276 of the 1496 events where help was sought.

18  Information on barriers was missing for 250 events where help was sought.
19  Participants were asked about barriers in relation to events. When a participant sought help from multiple advisers for the same event, information was not collected on which adviser was associated with the barrier experienced. Given that multiple barriers were sometimes reported for the same event, the observations were not independent. A significance test was not conducted.
20  Distance travelled was missing for 248 of the 1496 events where help was sought.
21  Participants did not need to travel in about one-third of cases where a traditional legal adviser was used. In contrast, they did not need to travel in about half or more of the cases where a friend or relative (lawyer or non-lawyer) or the internet was used. Participants also did not need to travel in about half or more of the cases where a government organisation, the police, a private organisation/agency, a company/business/bank, an insurance company/broker, a trade union/professional body or an employer was used.
22  Information on special services was missing for 276 of the 1496 events where help was sought.


CLOSE
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