Joined up justice

We’re working to help the sector to understand how we can get started in tech. We’re looking to contribute where we can and for opportunities to integrate with other systems under development to create joined-up justice.

We regularly present at national and international conference to learn about what is happening and to share what we have learned.

A new role for technology in access to justice

Technology has an important role to play in improving access to justice in Australia by improving justice processes and increasing the reach and impact of services.

Digital technology is increasingly influencing nearly every aspect of our daily life. Designing justice solutions with technology in mind is critical — failing to do so is akin to persisting in designing road and transport infrastructure for horses when cars were growing in popularity, or designing for candles when houses were increasingly linked to electricity.

As the  2017 Digital Inclusion Index found: ‘Australians are spending more time — and are doing more — online. Since 2014, when data was first collected, Australia’s overall digital inclusion score has improved by 3.8 points, from 52.7 to 56.5. In 2016—2017 alone, Australia’s score rose by 2.0 points, from 54.5 to 56.5. Scores for every state and territory also increased over this period.’

We consider there are three key roles for technology innovation in improving access to justice:

  • process innovation both within and between justice organisations;
  • technology-facilitated dispute resolution; and
  • service delivery innovation, where technology supports the delivery of legal assistance and connected services to clients.

Process innovation

Many justice organisations, courts, legal practices and community legal centres are operating with systems and technology that have fallen behind community expectations.

Out of date infrastructure and business processes constrain efficiency, service quality, scalability, the ability to communicate, share and analyse information, and consequently also the ability to assess work and impact.

Justice Connect has acknowledged that we can make improvements to our systems and technology to improve services and increase impact.

We have committed to streamlining our processes and improving and integrating our systems so that our staff can spend their time doing the work where they add the most value: spending time with clients, assisting vulnerable people, engaging in policy and law reform work, building relationships and working with key partners and stakeholders. We have also committed to improving our client and stakeholder management systems.

Our Legal Help Gateway Project is the culmination of our work in this area.

Service delivery innovation

When levels of unmet legal need are so high, and there is no sign of major increases to funding the delivery of one-on-one legal assistance to people who cannot afford a lawyer, we must start innovating to find alternative, greater scale approaches to delivering meaningful legal assistance.

Justice Connect believes that service delivery innovation is critical to scale the impact of our legal services. There will always be a need for intensive, one-on-one assistance. But in the absence of significant funding increases, we must create alternative service models that focus providing one-on-one assistance to the most vulnerable and provide alternative models of assistance to others who cannot afford a lawyer.

We believe that the only way that we can begin to meet the levels of unmet legal need in Australia is to, as a sector, embrace new service models that can operate at greater scale and with greater efficiency.

Digital Economy Strategy Consultation Paper Submission (November 2017) Download PDF (808 KB)

Kate Fazio working in partnership to invest in digital infrastructure

Top priorities: the role for technology in improving access to justice

Fostering a culture that encourages experimentation and innovation, including user-centred service design

Technology has an important role to play in improving access to justice in Australia by improving justice processes and increasing the reach and impact of services.

We should not rely on blanket assumptions about who can and cannot benefit from technology, but instead should make clients, their needs and abilities the starting point for designing legal services, and, ideally, the legal system at large.

It is important that bodies in the legal sector and the justice system have access to, and make use of, user-centred design practices. It is also important that legal sector bodies, which are traditionally risk-averse, embrace a more experimental approach to designing and piloting service improvements and new solutions, including using technology.

Investing in innovation and technology.

Recognising the resourcing strain justice organisations are under, any reluctance to divert resources from meeting client needs to focus on innovation projects is understandable.

Dedicated funding is needed to support technology innovation, including to fund dedicated staff time and technology and development costs.

The return on investment for nimble technology-based innovation projects, including their reach and scalability, provides a compelling argument for investing in this progressive work.

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