Queensland Law Society

QLS call for change from new PM

Queensland Law Society has called for change in the legislative and legal assistance spheres after Australia welcomed its 30th Prime Minister, Scott Morrison last week.

Queensland Law Society president Ken Taylor identified key issues to be addressed by the Federal Government following the change in leadership and prior to the next Federal Election.

“QLS regularly speaks with members of our policy committees to gain an understanding of what lawyers see the need for in Queensland’s legal profession and the wider community,” he said.

“We have identified several key areas to be addressed, including fairly resolving family law disputes; making justice more accessible for Queenslanders; resources for federal courts, tribunals and commissions; and a national plan to combat elder abuse.”

Mr Taylor explained that there needed to be simplification of the family law system, including the creation of a single specialist family court with a single set of rules and forms, as well the appointment of judicial officers with specialist family law experience.

“Family law is a key area of our justice system, with families across the state and country relying on the expertise of our judiciary to provide them with equal and fair justice,” he said.

“Along with adequate resourcing and the right set up for the courts, there must also be additional funding injected into legal assistance so that more Queenslanders – including those from diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds – can have equal access to justice and advice.”

Mr Taylor said that access to justice was a basic right for Queenslanders, and legal assistance to see predictable, long-term and sustainable funding.

“The legal assistance sector sits on a razor wire each year, waiting to hear how many crumbs will be thrown their way from the Federal Budget,” he said.

“This needs to change – we must see a commitment to certain and sustainable funding to all areas of legal assistance, including dedicated funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services, community civil law, and assistance for the NDIS and seniors’ legal services.”

Furthering his comments on seniors’ legal services, Mr Taylor continued to call for a national plan to combat elder abuse by the Australian Government, citing the devastating effects on the community.

“The incidence of elder abuse and its direct impacts upon a growing and particularly vulnerable cohort of the community requires urgent attention,” he said.

“Part of the work has already been done with the Australian Law Reform Commission’s elder abuse report, but now it’s time to implement the recommendations.

“This includes promoting and encouraging awareness and reporting, implementing policies which support older people, and immediate action with respect to abuse, harm and neglect occurring in the community.

“Proper regulation, mandatory reporting and adequate training for staff must also occur in residential aged care facilities.

“We must protect all members of our community, but particularly the vulnerable.

Mr Taylor said that the Society would release a full list of requests from the legal profession prior to the next Federal Election.

“We are working closely with our policy committees, the QLS Council and our legal policy team to produce our next Call to Parties document which sets out fundamental issues for address prior to each state or federal election,” he said.

“We look forward to releasing our next document when the next election is called.”