In February the Centre made a submission to the Victorian Department of Justice and Regulation regarding its Access to Justice Review.
The Review aims “to ensure that the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our community receive the support they need when engaging with the law and the justice system”, and invited submissions on nine Terms of Reference. Focusing on ways of enhancing pro bono legal services in Victoria, the Centre made submissions about:
- accessing information on legal assistance services and the Victorian justice system
- supporting publicly funded legal assistance services as the ‘lifeblood’ of many pro bono programs, including the former Community Law Partnerships scheme
- endorsing pro bono best practice in law firms
- the availability of legal costs and of disbursement assistance for pro bono litigants
- simplifying the Victorian Legal Services Panel arrangements and bringing them into line with the Commonwealth LSMUL arrangements and the National Pro Bono Aspirational Target
- expanding the number of firms on the Panel, and
- supporting self -represented litigant programs and the lessons learned from existing programs.
The Centre’s submission relies on and expands on the findings and recommendations made by the Productivity Commission in its Access to Justice Report.