The Justice Project – improving access for groups with particular communication needs

Leonie Campbell1

1Deputy Director of Policy, Law Council of Australia, 19 Torrens St Braddon, ACT 2602,


The Justice Project, the Law Council’s own comprehensive national inquiry into the state of access in Australia for people experiencing disadvantage, was overseen by an expert Steering Committee chaired by former High Court Chief Justice, the Hon. Robert French AC.  Looking at the justice system from the people’s point of view, it focused on justice barriers facing people with significant social and economic disadvantage, as well as identifying what is working to reduce those barriers.  The release of its final report in August 2018 followed an extensive literature review and wide-ranging consultation process.  It details constructive recommendations which provide a roadmap for future action, building the case for new, whole-of-government justice strategies secured by appropriate funding.

Communication barriers were amongst the most common difficulties experienced by diverse Justice Project groups in their dealings with the justice system.  These groups included people with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, recent arrivals and asylum seekers, rural, regional and remote Australians, children and young people, and older people.  This session outlines the different kinds of communications needs which the justice system must accommodate to ensure access to justice, taking into account the changing demographics of its many users.   The challenge of meeting these multiple needs effectively –which range from language and literacy needs, to disability-related supports, to appropriate use of digital technology, to culturally competent and trauma-informed responses – is not insignificant.  This session will outline the Project’s findings on these communications needs with particular relevance to courts and tribunals.


Ms Leonie Campbell is the Deputy Director of Policy at the Law Council of Australia, the national peak body for the legal profession. In this role, she currently has carriage of the Law Council’s response to federal matters including human rights and equality before the law, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, migration and elder law. Under the guidance of a Steering Committee chaired by The Hon Robert French AC, she previously led the Law Council’s Justice Project work throughout 2017-2018. This work has continued to inform the Law Council’s response on a diverse range of nationally significant matters such as juvenile detention, Indigenous incarceration, several Royal Commissions, access to justice and religious freedoms.

Ms Campbell holds a LLB(Hons)/BA(Hons) from the University of Melbourne and a LLM (Dist.) from Australian National University. She has previously worked as a solicitor and a federal policy adviser.


The COAT is intended to facilitate liaison and discussion between the heads of tribunals. It will support the development of best practice models and model procedural rules, standards of behaviour and conduct for members and increased capacity for training and support for members.