Bridging the gap

LawRight positions lawyers at locations and into processes where people who are already vulnerable need legal help. Without lawyers, their situations are likely to worsen and opportunities for stability inevitably reduce. This newsletter highlights three processes where the impact of our members’ pro bono intervention is profound.

Victim survivors of violence

People who are homeless (or at risk of homelessness) experience higher rates of violence, including sexual violence, but accessing support for victims is not easy. Liaising with bureaucratic systems and obtaining relevant medical and psychological reports is complicated and can potentially re-traumatise.

Our Community and Health Justice Partnerships lawyers help bridge this gap and deliver this support in conjunction with the health and social workers at the community locations we partner with. Over 15% of our files are Victim Assist applications and in 21/22 we secured >$146,000 of financial support and access to support services to help victims recover. Many more clients were guided to advocate for themselves. Some of these outcomes have taken years to secure or have been rejected initially, so we are also working on systemic change with the agencies involved.

Access to work and training

LawRight assists with almost 30% of Blue Card reviews at QCAT, and >50% of our clients with Blue Card reviews are referred to us by QCAT. Over 20% of clients we assist with Blue Card matters have the decision of Blue Card Services set aside. While the safety of children is paramount, the reasons why a person is denied a Blue Card (working with children check) often intersect with their vulnerability. People from remote Indigenous communities or with a history of living with domestic violence may be denied Blue Cards for reasons that are typical of systemic disadvantage (such as lack of opportunity to respond effectively to criminal charges). These same reasons are barriers to meaningful participation in BCS’s assessment of their circumstances, yet adverse decisions impact their access to employment or further training and frequently take over two years to review. LawRight’s co-location at QCAT (and our research into these challenges) is critical to disrupting these cycles of inequity.

Complex litigation

Litigation in the District and Supreme Courts is high-stakes financially and technically difficult to navigate. LawRight relies on the resources and skills of pro bono barristers and law firms to bridge the gap – for the whole of Queensland. Over 60% of our clients are referred by Legal Aid Queensland or other Community Legal Centres that do not have the expertise or resources to support clients in these matters.

Proceedings discontinued for massive debt
A defendant named in a Supreme Court claim for more than $500,000 believed he was not responsible for the debt and the co-defendant agreed. Without funds to afford a lawyer, they prepared and filed an inadequate defence. It took multiple appointments with pro bono and staff lawyers to prepare amended defences, make and respond to requests for particulars, undertake disclosure, prepare for various review hearings, and draft affidavits setting out their side of the story.  These are complex processes that most typical Australians cannot navigate by themselves. Eventually, the plaintiff agreed to discontinue proceedings against both defendants. Our clients told us the assistance they received was “invaluable” and that they could not have done it without our help.

“Kind soul” whose representation ended decade-long case
Irene has severe and complex mental health issues which impact her ability to engage in the legal process. She was the defendant in District Court proceedings that started in 2008 and limited progress had been made.  The Court asked LawRight to assist and a member barrister took a direct brief to represent Irene at mediation, where the matter finally settled after more than a decade. Irene appreciated the “kind soul” who gave “some of the professional time to assist the less privilege[d]”. 

We agree that LawRight members are kind, but perhaps they are motivated even more by the essential and strategic link between access to justice and the rule of law, which protects us all.

Red Wine for Justice – Friday 14 October 2022 
Red Wine for Justice is another opportunity to be kind and increase access to justice! Secure the fabulous auction wines and raise funds to support all LawRight services. We are sorry the event has changed dates so often – if you aren’t sure if you (and your friends) are registered or not, please email to check. Additional tickets are available at

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