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Access to justice

The Australian Government is dedicated to making our federal civil justice system less complex and more accessible.

Access to justice is about ensuring Australians receive appropriate advice and assistance, no matter how they enter our justice system.

The Attorney-General’s Department is responsible for coordinating government policy and projects that improve access to justice.

For information about the federal courts, visit our courts page.

Access to justice goes beyond courts and lawyers (although these are important too). It incorporates everything people do to try to resolve the disputes they have, including accessing information and support to prevent, identify and resolve disputes.

This broad view of access to justice recognises that many people resolve disputes without going to court and sometimes without seeking professional assistance.

Inverted  pyramid showing three different levels of justice. Details in text following image. 

There are three levels of justice:

  1. Most disputes are resolved using everyday justice by avoiding conflict and managing disputes.
  2. The second most common form of resolving a dispute is through informal justice - which includes using a third party advisor or facilitator.
  3. The least common form of resolving a dispute is through the formal justice system, including courts and tribunals, often with a lawyer.

Improving access to justice

This department oversees the Strategic Framework for Access to Justice. This framework encourages policy makers to take a broad approach to new initiatives and reforms that aim to improve access to our justice system.

Practical information on how to implement the strategic framework is provided in the 2009 Access to Justice Taskforce’s mini-publication:

Some recent highlights of the department’s work to help people access justice in their daily lives can be found in our publication: Everyday justice for everyone – the story so far from the Attorney-General’s Department.

The department also continues to oversee the implementation of recommendations of the 2009 Access to Justice Taskforce. Many of these recommendations have now been implemented.

The full report of the taskforce is available:

The department has also completed two papers that were presented to National Justice CEOs (NJCEOs) in October 2012 to guide the Standing Council of Law and Justice (SCLJ) priority work on ‘Harnessing the benefits of technology to improve access to justice’:

• a stock take paper highlighting current initiatives in the civil justice sector that promote access to justice

• an analysis paper that identifies best practice and innovative uses of technology that support and enhance access to justice as well as emerging technologies and opportunities for consideration

The papers are available for review on the Standing Council on Law and Justice website.