The Civil and Family Law Needs of Indigenous People Forty Years after Sackville: The Findings of the Indigenous Legal Needs Project
Durbach, A., Edgeworth, B. & Sentas, V. (eds), Law and Poverty: 40 years after the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty, Federation Press: Sydney, pp.231-248
19 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2018
Date Written: January 31, 2017
There has been a great deal of focus on the criminal law needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly in the context of the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system. Less attention has been paid to the civil and family law needs of Indigenous people. This paper will report on the findings of extensive research that has been conducted over several years across Australia which set out to examine the priority areas of civil and family law needs and issues of access to justice for Indigenous people. The research was funded by the ARC and conducted with partners from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Legal Aid Commissions.
While there are substantial problems of unmet need across the broad range of civil and family law, the research identifies the areas of housing; discrimination; credit, debt and consumer; social security and child protection as priority areas. Other key findings include the complexity of Indigenous legal needs, and the way various legal problems intersect and escalate for Indigenous people. Many of these problems are exacerbated by social and economic disadvantage, and highly restricted access to legal advice and legal services. The paper identifies a range of areas where access to justice can be improved.
Keywords: indigenous peoples, access to justice, civil law, family law
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