LawInfo NT aims to provide Northern Territorians with simple, plain language information and tools to help them uphold their legal rights and responsibilities. It also aims to connect people with service providers who can assist them.
In 2014, the NT CLE Network established a working group to investigate online delivery of plain language legal information. Network members across the NT were surveyed to determine accessibility of legal information online. Seventy percent of responses determined general community access to such resources was poor.
In 2015, the Network received funding from the NT Law Society Public Purposes Trust to develop a centralised hub of plain legal information for the NT. A project officer worked for one year on research and development guided by a steering committee from legal assistance services. Wide consultation was held all over the NT and good practice thinking from other jurisdictions was integrated into the design of the website. For more information, see the Summary scoping report on NT plain language website
LawInfo NT has been designed with local and regional service providers, organisations, and community groups, with a particular focus on improving access to plain language information for vulnerable groups including Indigenous peoples, CALD groups, less literate, remote, younger, older and at risk populations.
On this site, Northern Territorians can get simple and accessible information about their legal rights and how to ensure they are upheld. The website:
- Provides the general public with an easy-to-use resource that helps people find legal information they need as simply as possible.
- Connects the general public to legal service providers that can assist with their specific legal problem.
- Gives a brief plain language explanation and links to accessible, culturally appropriate and easy to digest resources on other websites including audio, pictures, text, film and materials in a range of languages.
To give feedback on the website please email email@example.com
This website would not be possible without the generous support, hard work and input of:
- The Law Society Public Purposes Trust
- Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission (NTLAC)
- The Northern Territory Community Legal Education Network
- The project steering group members:
- Jane Black (ACCC)
- Alexandra O’Donnell (DCLS, TEWLS, DVLS, NTLAC)
- Lauren Macaulay (CAWLS, CAALAS )
- Melinda Schroeder (NTLAC)
- Andreea Lachsz, (NAAJA)
- North Australia Aboriginal Family Legal Service (Jo, Alison, Cassandra and Fernanda)
- Darwin Community Legal Service (Caitlin, Lokesh, Gary and Mary)
- Julia Parkin, CAWLS
- John Jablonka, NTLAC
- Members of the Domestic and Family Violence Network.
- Members of the Top End Family Law Pathways Network
- Stephanie Booker project officer 2015-16.
- Marios Fitirikkos, NTLAC
- Antonija Kurbalija,
- Ellie Freemantle,
- Sally Fisher
- Courtney Venturin
- Adam Khadra
- The Victorian Law foundation in particular Joh Kirby and Elisa Bergs
- Queensland Public Interest Law Clearinghouse especially Marisa Dooris and Sue Garlick
- National Association of Community Legal Centres, Community Legal Education and Community Development Network
- The National Legal Aid Community Legal Education Working Group
- Jane Clark at Netgrrl webdesign
- Professor Peter Shaw, Charles Darwin University
- Surendra Dawadi
- Farida Semantha
- Ben Grimes
- Samantha Bowden
- and all the users and promoters and champions who continue to provide feedback and suggestions…
“… we won’t finish the job but that doesn’t mean we should lie around and wait for someone else to do it …”
Some words from speakers at the launch of Law Info NT, December 2016.
The importance of access to plain language legal information to address unmet legal need in the NT, Fiona Hussin, Deputy Director, NT Legal Aid Commission and Convenor, NT Legal Assistance Forum.
“Legal information and advice is only valuable if it is easy to access, understand and apply in practice.
In 2012 the NSW Law and Justice Foundation produced the Law Australia Wide Survey, which reported on Legal Need in Australia based on surveys conducted in each jurisdiction. The survey revealed that most people who want legal advice don’t see a lawyer. In fact, in over 69 % of the problems where legal advice was sought, only non-legal advisers were used.People approached a range of main sources for legal help. 21% of these people sought advice from police and 18 % sought advice from their doctor.
In the NT we experience particular issues which cause barriers to access to justice. These include remoteness, lack of appropriate infrastructure, language, and a high population of people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
The LAW survey found that using websites and self-help guides was one of several common responses to legal problems. This is especially important because some of those who had sought help from an advisor felt that they had failed to obtain adequate, clear information or advice.
In 2014 the Australian Productivity Commission completed their “Access to Justice Arrangements” report. This report highlighted that across the legal services assistance landscape, legal information and referral services are fragmented and duplicated. As a method of reducing duplication, and a step towards meeting the Productivity Commission recommended that “each state and territory should have a central, widely recognised contact point for legal assistance and referral to make it easier for people to enter the civil justice system.
These findings highlight the value of ‘plain language’ legal information and advice. The increasing reliance on the internet as part of the technological revolution suggests a growing benefit will be achieved by facilitating the use of internet based legal information.
This project will also complement the NT Law Handbook online launched in May 2016. It will provide a helpful means of linking people who otherwise might not have found it, to the online law handbook and assisting them to locate relevant information.
The work of the CLE Network in devising and developing the Law Info NT website has been outstanding. Ironically, when the concept was devised it was known as the ‘Portal’. In the same way that legal jargon is confusing to non-lawyers, I found it very difficult to visualise what the final product of this innovative idea would be. Thanks to the commitment and innovation of NT CLE Network Members, Law Info NT is now up and running. To ensure the website remains current, The NT Legal Aid Commission has made a commitment to ensuring that the updating of the through the creation of a position of a Legal information Coordinator position.”
Legal information needs and responses for Central Australia, Julia Parkin, Community Legal Education Lawyer, Central Australian Women’s Legal Service.
“Central Australia is characterised by great cultural diversity and geographical isolation. We have large and diverse Aboriginal and CALD communities spread across a vast area.
These various characteristics bring with them particular legal issues and challenges. These include for example high rates of domestic violence, housing and tenancy issues, as well as particular challenges for making family law arrangements just to name a few.
There are also particular challenges in accessing justice brought about by the isolation and cultural and linguistic diversity in this part of the world. Some of the challenges our clients face include lack of access to services in remote locations, cost of and availability of transport to get to Court or appointments, lack of specialist legal advice, issues accessing interpreter services, sometimes a perception that services will not be able to assist with a particular issue and a general lack of knowledge about the help that is available.These are, of course, challenges which are common to other regions in the Territory.
It was fantastic, as part of the development of this project, to have the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission CLE team travel to Central Australia, because it enabled project manager, Steph Booker, to collect information about the particular concerns and challenges for Central Australia and to take note of the way in which these concerns are articulated by people living in this part of the world. This has meant that the website has been developed to address the particular legal issues which people experience in different parts of the Territory and also to respond to the way in which people frame their legal questions. This helps to make the information as accessible as possible.
Having a website which contains clear targeted legal information in plain English as well as links to some translated sources of information is a positive step towards addressing the issues of accessing justice in Central Australia.”