Improving access to justice for more women

Improving access to justice for more women

Office for Women Womens Safety
Friday, 20 October 2017

Office for Women

Lin Hatfield-Dodds, Deputy Secretary, The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet launches the framework.

Whilst navigating the court system is challenging for everyone, research by the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity (JCCD) shows that women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds and migrant and refugee women find it harder to use the court system than most. Many barriers contribute to poor access to justice for these women, including language and culture, as well as disadvantage.

A national framework assisting courts to be more user-friendly has been developed by the JCCD and was launched by Lin Hatfield-Dodds, Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on Friday 20 October 2017. The project was made possible through the support of the Minister for Women, who agreed $120,000 in Women’s Leadership and Development Strategy funds to ensure access to justice for women from culturally and linguistically diverse and Indigenous backgrounds.

Whilst not all women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, migrant and refugee backgrounds find it difficult to access justice in the Australian court system, the framework will assist courts to respond to the needs of women from these backgrounds who do require support.

The JCCD drew on its own research, as well as The International Framework for Court Excellence to develop a framework of principles and best practice guidelines for Australian courts to improve accessibility. The framework is flexible so can respond to local community needs, jurisdictional priorities and resources.

The development of this framework focusses on adapting court policies, procedures and resources – not the content of the law. Enabling cultural considerations for diverse clients does not provide advantage; rather it provides an assurance that all Australians have equal access to justice.