Access to justice: meeting the need of ‘missing middle’
Speech delivered by Dr Jacoba Brasch QC, President, Law Council of Australia at the Annual Gold Coast Legal Conference, Gold Coast, 11 June 2021.
"Often, our thinking around access to justice is dominated by Legal Aid funding, and a concern for those at the very margins of our society – the disenfranchised and the disempowered – facing the most complicated and compounded forms of social and economic disadvantage.
But my address this afternoon is not focused on this kind of disadvantage. It is the “missing middle” – those who are ‘too rich’ to secure legal aid, but ‘too poor’ to afford little other than the necessities of life… much less private legal assistance.
My challenge to you all then is to ask what should be our litmus test for access to justice? Instead of just conceiving that question in terms of the most disadvantaged, let’s re-frame the question to ask: whether any member of our society, whether or not they meet established or stereotypical definitions for disadvantage, is in a position to access legal assistance."
You can read the full speech below.