Breaking Down Barriers | Mildura Midweek

AS Victoria Legal Aid prepares to set up its Mildura team within an existing organisation, Murray Mallee Community Legal Service has welcomed the Victorian Government’s Access to Justice Review.


The review, commissioned by the government last year, made 60 recommendations that focused on reducing the barriers, such as the costs of legal services, access to information and securing legal representation.


Mallee Family Care executive director Teresa Jayet said the organisation’s Murray Mallee Community Legal Service had input into the review through the Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria.


She said a common view was to consider a more integrated service delivery model to assist people in accessing legal information.


“Often people’s legal issues are identified through other means of working with them, for example, through support services such as mental health programs,” Ms Jayet said.


“The recommendation which may see a lawyer operating within a health or other community service has merit, as does having a social worker operating within a community legal service.”


The review builds on the Productivity Commission’s 2014 Access to Justice report, which found there were concerns across the country that the justice system was too slow, expensive and adversarial.


It focused on ensuring disadvantaged people, including those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds and survivors of family violence, received the support they needed when dealing with legal problems.


Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula wanted to make sure Victorians could access the legal services they needed, when they needed them.


“The review makes wideranging recommendations across our courts, legal bodies and organisations, and support services – and we’ll now carefully work through those with stakeholders before moving forward,” he said.


Opposition Attorney-General John Pesutto said despite the Productivity Commission report urging the State Government to increase its annual legal assistance funding, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had ignored that call.


“What concerns us more is ensuring assistance for legal representation and advice reaches the widest possible range of clients in need with a government that can manage taxpayer dollars responsibly enough to ensure a strong source of support,” he said.


Victoria Legal Aid’s submission to the Access to Justice Review suggested a $42 million annual shortfall in legal aid funding by the Victorian Government. Caption Text: Mallee Family Care executive director Teresa Jayet says its Murray Mallee Community Legal Service has welcomed recommendations made in the State Government’s Access to Justice Review.



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