Indigenous people’s experience of multiple legal problems and multiple disadvantage

An interesting and valuable working paper has been published by the  Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales, titled “Indigenous people’s experience of multiple legal problems and multiple disadvantage  — a  working paper.”

The working paper is based on data gathered in 2008 and published in the 2012  Legal Australia-wide Survey, which was self-described as a “comprehensive quantitative assessment across Australia of an extensive range of legal needs on a representative sample of the population. It examines the nature of legal problems, the pathways to their resolution, and the demographic groups that struggle with the weight of their legal problems.”

It revisits some of the 2008 data on the legal problems experienced by indigenous people, exploring the connections in more detail.     Table 1 (pasted below) encapsulates the key dilemma for indigenous people:  being indigenous statistically doubles your likely number of legal problems if you are female, and nearly triples them if you are male.  And, it doubles your number of substantial legal problems, which are defined as problems having a moderate to severe impact upon daily life. (See the survey report, page xvi).

Table 1 UJ36

Combine this with systemic socio-economic disadvantage,  and a lack of accessible legal infrastructure, it is clear that there is a desperate need for resources to be put into indigenous legal services.   As the report itself concludes, “The heightened vulnerability to multiple legal problems that occurs at an earlier age for Indigenous people, and continues through to middle age, may be yet another marker of the ‘wicked’ nature of Indigenous disadvantage in Australia.

The full report is online at http://www.lawfoundation.net.au/ljf/site/templates/UpdatingJustice/$file/UJ_36_Indigenous_multiple_legal_problems_and_disadvantage_FINAL.pdf

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