Skip to main content

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Attorney-General’s Department: Find out how our services are being delivered and how you can access them. For the latest COVID-19 news, updates and advice from the Australian Government, visit Australia.gov.au

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

“An effective justice system must be accessible in all its parts.  Without this, the system risks losing its relevance to, and the respect of, the community it serves. Accessibility is about more than ease of access to sandstone buildings or getting legal advice. It involves an appreciation and understanding of the needs of those who require the assistance of the legal system.”

Attorney-General Robert McClelland
Foreword to the Report of the Access to Justice Taskforce
September 2009

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.

A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System

Report
This report is the result of the Access to Justice Taskforce, established in 2009 to undertake a comprehensive examination of the federal civil justice system with a view to developing a more strategic approach to access to justice issues. 

A guide for future action

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

The story so far

Guidelines

The department continues to oversee the implementation of recommendations of the 2009 Access to Justice Taskforce.

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

Government response to the Productivity Commission's report into Access to Justice Arrangements

Government response
On 29 April 2016, the release of the Australian Government's response to the Productivity Commission's Report into Access to Justice Arrangements was announced. The report considers a number of significant areas in the civil justice system at both the Commonwealth, and the state and territory level.