Strategies for Affordable Justice
10 October 2013 at 9:22 am
New research findings, set to be submitted to the Federal Government later this month, identify strategies on affordable justice for Australia’s working poor.
The research by RMIT’s Centre of Innovative Justice focuses on making justice more affordable for those people who are ineligible for pro bono legal services and Legal Aid, but have some limited means to engage private solicitors.
The report will, among other things, examines fixed fees, discrete task assistance and simpler approaches to resolving disputes.
The research will be one of the topics to be discussed at RMIT’s Centre of Innovative Justice’s free symposium which will be held on Wednesday, October 16 at RMIT University’s College of Business.
In March this year, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard awarded the centre with a $300,000 grant to research strategies for cost-effective approaches to assist Australians. Using the money CIJ has undertaken four projects for the Federal Attorney-General’s Department.
The symposium, hosted by former Attorney General and Director of the Centre Rob Hulls, will look at the four key research projects, funded by that grant, being done at the centre.
"Each research project we undertake relates to smarter ways to deliver justice to the community, and to improve access to justice,” Hulls said.
“Our aim is to identify, develop and promote justice processes that are more effective, more meaningful to parties and ultimately less costly for individuals and the taxpayer."
The second project, due to be submitted in March 2014, will examine restorative justice options for assisting with the response to historical sex offences, including what other options are there for victims alongside the criminal justice trial process or as an alternative.
According to CIJ, there is a concern, not just in Victoria and Australian jurisdictions, but in other jurisdictions around the world, that despite reforms to sex offence matters, and an increase in prosecution in sex offence cases there is still a fairly low conviction rate.
The third project will examine emerging innovative justice strategies that involve early intervention approaches and is due September 2014.
And the fourth project is to develop a justice impact information framework, downstream justice and intervention, a tool or framework not made for bureaucrats but for the community. That project is due November 2014.
“We have to think smarter when it comes to justice,” Hulls said.
“The last thing we want is to live in a society that spends more money on jails than schools and hospitals.”
CIJ has also produced two reports for the Fair Work Commission, assessing procedural pilots introduced by the Commission to assist self-represented parties.
The first report was an assessment of a pilot providing self-represented parties in unfair dismissal matters a three-day cooling off period within which to withdraw from a settlement reached at a conciliation.
The second was an assessment of a pilot referring self-represented applicants in general protections matters in WA to the Employment Law Service of WA for advice and assistance with their applications
The Centre for Innovative Justice was established in October 2012 to research, develop, teach and promote innovative ways of delivering justice and find solutions to problems within the justice system.
To register for the symposium click here.