Friday, 7 April 2017

Access to Justice Report and Recommendations


HI all,

Late last year the Victorian Government Access to Justice Report and Recommendations were published. My submission is here

It was great to read so many organisations highlighted the needs of the many vulnerable people in the community who have lots of difficulty in accessing legal information, or even knowing what are their Rights. This was replicated in the report and recommendations.

There are 3 separate recommendations where Easy English was included:-

(1) Recommendation 2.1  (p.144)
Make Victoria Legal Aid the primary information entry point
In part recommends:
“....ensure that legal information materials meet best practice and accessibility standards,
including the provision of materials in plain-language, Easy English, and languages
other than English;...”

(2) Recommendation 2.4  (p.147)
“Making information about courts and tribunals more accessible
In part recommends:
“..Victorian courts and tribunals are encouraged to consider ways to make their websites and
legal information materials more accessible. .... include the provision of information in languages other than English, in plain-language, and in Easy English format.....”

and

(3) Recommendation 8.2 (p 4.99)
“ Improving access to interpreters
In part recommends:
“ ...Legal information should be published in plain-language, languages other than English and Easy English....”
  
It was also clear there were no submissions about interactive communication in the submissions to this review. It was not discussed in the body of the report. There were no specific recommendations about this important part of communication for people who have contact with the Justice Sector. Speech Pathologists and researchers are working in this space. A couple of areas of note are:
- Language and social communication skills of youths in the Justice Sector
- Undiagnosed language/literacy and other disabilities in the Youth Justice Sector;
- school adherence;
- knowledge of Rights, Responsibilities and the law;
- experiences of people with Complex Communication Needs when they have interaction with any aspect of the Justice Sector, from police to court staff, solicitors and judges.

I have since followed up with the Victorian Government, and hope to have some good news about next steps to get some of these Easy English recommendations further advanced. I also have raised the issue of the lack of information about the language and communication skills of people who have contact with the Justice Sector.

It was great to be able to further the conversation about Legal information at the Legal Literacy conference, Clarity in New Zealand last year. I presented a paper on Access to Written Information: A social equity, social justice issue. It generated lots of conversation about the various definitions of Legal Literacy, and what happens for the 44% of the adult population with non functional literacy.

I am here to help you develop those legalese documents, and make them accessible for people with non functional literacy.

Cathy Basterfield
Access Easy English
0466 579 855 
Facebook:    /accesseasyenglish

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