An Australia-first tool to connect people with justice
31 Aug 2018
August 31, 2018
Justice Connect is today launching its Gateway Project with an Australia-first free online legal help service that will unlock over 20,000 hours of extra free legal help for people who need it.
“Each year, 8.5 million Australians have a legal problem, and half miss out on accessing legal help. There’s a staggering ‘justice gap’. There aren’t enough services, and people really struggle to find the services that are available. An intuitive online tool connecting people with legal help is our contribution to trying to close the justice gap,” said Kate Fazio, Head of Innovation and Engagement with Justice Connect.
“We have 10,000 pro bono lawyers in our network wanting to help – our challenge is processing the high number of requests for help we receive. This tool will be a game changer in linking people with free legal help. We estimate that we’ll release a further 20,000 hours of pro bono over the two years after release.
“Everything from ordering food to topping up your bus ticket to booking flights can be done online in minutes” Ms Fazio said.
“Providing people with easy online application processes has been an ongoing concern for the entire justice sector. This tool is an important step to bring the law online, in a format that everyday people can engage with. We know it works, because we’ve designed it alongside the people who will actually use it.”
The Gateway will drastically improve the experience of people seeking legal help. “When I needed legal help, I was forced to speak to several different legal services before finding help. I had to make a lot of calls, and send a lot of emails. I would have much preferred to just apply online,” said Mohammad*, who Justice Connect matched with pro bono support in 2017.
“Recently, a lady completed an application for assistance while experiencing homelessness and sleeping in her car. And a 77-year-old grandmother used our tool the other night at 1am, presumably unable to sleep because of the stress her legal problem was causing her.
“We’ve already matched her with free legal representation. The tool will not only make it easier for people needing help to find what they need, but it helps us process requests much more quickly,” said Ms Fazio.
This online help tool is just one part of Justice Connect’s Gateway Project, a digital transformation strategy started with seed funding through Google.org’s Impact Challenge.
“We are delighted to see Justice Connect reach this important milestone – from an early idea back in 2016, they have used technology to create an innovative solution to help close the justice gap by connecting Australians in need with legal help,” said Jacquelline Fuller, VP Google and President of Google.org.
Stage two of the project will be the release of a portal that digitises Justice Connect’s engagement with its pro bono network, enabling a real-time view of interest and capacity to speed up matching of unmet need with available lawyers. Fourteen of Australia’s largest law firms are already signed up for a pilot.
*Last name withheld. Mohammad was directly involved in co-designing the Gateway project with Justice Connect