Queensland Law Society

Access to Justice Scorecard released

To further our vision of advocating for good law and supporting good lawyers, Queensland Law Society has published the 2016 Access to Justice Scorecard Report.

The annual survey is fundamental to QLS contributions to upholding the rule of law and highlights the barriers that QLS members see for Queenslanders accessing justice. This year, four specific barriers were recognised:

  1. lack of funding to the legal assistance sector
  2. heightened concern about the family law system
  3. lack of availability of legal services in rural and remote locations across Queensland
  4. lack of technological resources.

All of these also featured in previous surveys. Notably, our persistent pleas for more funding fell on deaf ears. Of particular concern is the Federal Government ignoring our call for better funding for all pillars of the legal assistance sector. Our profession is becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of availability of legal services in regional areas.

QLS president Christine Smyth congratulated our profession on its outstanding contribution to supporting access to justice by undertaking unprecedented levels of pro bono work.

“Each year Queensland practitioners are filling a void created by poor government funding, by undertaking pro bono work in their personal time,” she said.

“In 2015-16 a total of 290,154.4 hours of pro bono work was calculated, which is an impressive increase of 88.7% from the previous year. I would like to thank our solicitors for their continued contributions to our community.”

While congratulating the legal fraternity for picking up the baton, Ms Smyth said that she held “grave concerns for our community when governments fail to provide these essential services for its most vulnerable constituents, the very people they are elected to serve”.

Following the release of the report, QLS will work to implement its advocacy strategy around the findings.

President Smyth said that the overall aims of this annual report included:

  1. acknowledging and celebrating access to justice achievements
  2. identifying where improvements were necessary
  3. offering solutions to overcome identified access to justice barriers
  4. engaging with, and promoting to, the broader legal profession and community interest in access to justice issues.

The Society, along with its Access to Justice and Pro Bono Law Committee, hopes to utilise the results of this year’s survey to inform its advocacy and lobbying on access to justice issues. QLS will continue to advocate for meaningful change to increase access to justice for Queenslanders.

QLS thanks all members who participated in the survey and the work of the committee in compiling the survey and report.

An opportunity to participate in this year’s survey will be available later in the year.