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Evidence and analysis of legal need

Under Queensland government policy and the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services (NPA), planning for legal assistance services requires evidence and analysis of legal need:

The first element of service planning is that the States use an evidence base to identify priority clients and the geographic locations in which people have the highest levels of legal need. This will enable the States to identify and analyse evidence of disadvantage, as a proxy for legal need, and target legal assistance services within their jurisdiction accordingly.

With funding from the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, we prepared this report to summarise evidence of legal need in Queensland; it uses demographic information as a proxy for legal need, based on leading international and Australian research. It draws primarily on work of the Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales (LJF). It presents data that indicates the number and proportion of the Queensland population that fits into the NPA’s ‘priority client groups’, across 13 regions in Queensland. In previous funding rounds and analysis, local government areas have been used to identify areas of need, and provision of service delivery. However, a regionalised approach is favoured as it:

  • allows for higher-level, regionalised analysis;
  • aligns with Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ) planning, on the basis that there is one regional LAQ office in each of these areas (except Brisbane, where there are two); and
  • aligns with regional legal assistance forum areas, which will allow for better local coordination/collaboration.

This report also synthesises LJF research, which reflects community legal centres’ experiences over 40 years providing legal help to vulnerable Queenslanders, with proposes strategies to make legal assistance services more appropriate and accessible.