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Access to Justice – Response to Taskforce Report

December 01, 2009

The Australian Government’s Attorney General, The Hon. Robert McClelland MP, established a taskforce to undertake a review of the federal civil justice system, with a view to developing a more strategic approach to access to justice issues and, on 23 September 2009, released the report of the Access to Justice Taskforce, ‘A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System’ for public comment.

Peninsula CLC made a submission broadly accepting the terms and recommendations of the Taskforce Report and welcoming the acceptance of a more strategic, system wide approach to access to justice. However, PCLC’s Response also noted that significant improvements in the manner of engagement of individuals with the legal system and in their use of the legal system will be required to increase and improve access to justice. The taskforce report demonstrates that is the most marginalised members of our community that are most overlooked in the justice system – children, indigenous people, people suffering from mental illness.

The taskforce report also endorsed CLC’s as being cost effective and facilitating access to justice for significant numbers of people whilst recognising that CLC’s are significantly underfunded. PCLC submitted that: ‘CLC’s are experts in community law and are accessible to people with complex and disadvantaged needs. They understand the issues and barriers facing these people and provide advice to people often disregarded or disadvantaged by the legal system – homeless; young people; people with a disability or mental illness; people held in detention; victims of family violence’. Without adequate recurrent funding of CLC’s the goals of the report and access to justice for all Australians cannot be achieved.

For more information, or to request a copy of PCLC’s submission, please contact the Centre on (03) 9783 3600 or pclc@pclc.org.au .

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