It’s that time of year again, when practitioners around Queensland are asked one simple question: what does access to justice mean and how can it be improved for our communities?
In 2009, then Attorney-General Robert McClelland in the foreword to the Report of the Access to Justice Taskforce, wrote:
“Accessibility is about more than ease of access to sandstone buildings or getting legal advice. It involves an appreciation and understanding of the needs of those who require the assistance of the legal system.”
Today, QLS President Elizabeth Shearer launched the annual Access to Justice Survey at the Gold Coast Legal Conference.
The survey seeks to pinpoint the barriers Queenslanders face when trying to access the legal system and the responses to the survey help form the advocacy needed to make change happen.
In her speech to the 187 delegates, Ms Shearer said the survey provided valuable insights into the state of access to justice in Queensland.
“The survey has consistently highlighted two barriers – the lack of funding for legal assistance and the cost of engaging a lawyer.
“Our response to this is two pronged. We advocate for more funding for more funding and we fill the gap by undertaking pro-bono work.”
Ms Shearer said the legal profession needs to focus on meeting the everyday legal needs of individuals and small businesses – the missing middle.
We know the value that general counsel brings in the corporate world, but we don’t do enough to make such counsel available to individuals and small businesses,” Ms Shearer said.
“Wise counsel from a solicitor who is specialist in the legal problems of everyday life is a valuable service.”
The 2021 Access to Justice survey is open now. Have your say today on how we can improve our Access to Justice in Queensland.