Access to justice: we can do better
20 February 2019
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The United Nations recognise World Day of Social Justice on 20 February each year, promoting the removal of social justice barriers that people face around the world.
The 2019 theme is “If you want peace and development, work for social justice.”
Queensland Law Society has recognised the day by renewing calls for increased access to justice for all Queenslanders regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, culture, location or socio-economic standing.
The Society has called for increased legal assistance funding for several years, and has continued the fight for legal assistance in each state and federal election.
President Bill Potts said that all members of the community must have access to appropriate legal advice and assistance, regardless of how they enter the justice system.
“As the peak professional membership body for more than 13,000 solicitors across the state, we call on the Australian Government to ensure that funding for our legal assistance sector is certain, predictable, long term and sustainable,” he said.
“With the rate of new and amended legislation passing through our State and Federal Parliaments, it is also imperative that resourcing keeps up with the increase in demand for legal help.”
Mr Potts explained that it was important that the level of per capita Federal Government Legal Aid and legal assistance sector funding was increased to restore equality between the State and Commonwealth shares of funding.
“Another idea we are recommending to the Federal Government is to change legislation to permit money seized from proceeds of crime to be an additional ongoing funding source for legal assistance services.
“There is a great pool of money that could be turned from bad to good by simply injecting it back into the right side of our justice system.”
Mr Potts explained the Society would call for these items and more ahead of the next Australian Federal Election.
“We are passionate about access to justice, and we will continue to do our very best to ensure no Queenslander gets left behind when it comes to receiving legal advice and representation in our justice system.
“As lawyers, we must always recognise that our privileged position of knowledge and our understanding of the legal system carries with it an obligation to act in the best interests of our community.
“As Einstein once said, ‘those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act.”