What is the Civil Justice Fund?
The Civil Justice Fund (CJF) is a perpetual sub fund of the Queensland Community Foundation. It was established by LawRight with seed funding provided by the Public Trustee of Queensland and Legal Aid Queensland.
The CJF's patron is the Honourable Justice Margaret McMurdo AC, President of the Court of Appeal.
The fund was launched on 18 March 2015.
You can find a copy of the launch below.
How does the Civil Justice Fund work?
The Civil Justice Fund is a registered subfund of the Queensland Community Foundation.
Donations and bequests made to the Civil Justice Fund are invested in perpetuity and the income earned each year is applied to meet the objectives of the Fund. The perpetual fund is managed by the Public Trustee of Queensland and invested by QIC - one of Australia's leading investment managers.
What are the objectives of the Civil Justice Fund?
The primary objective of the Civil Justice Fund is to provide equal access to the civil justice system to disadvantaged Queenslanders by:
- fostering partnerships between community legal centres
- providing funds for practical legal projects and civil casework
- providing research to assist in formulating a practical legal service.
How does the Civil Justice Fund benefit society?
All Queenslanders should have equal access to the civil justice system and the fact that this is not the case is an issue of grave concern.
Currently, many low-income Queenslanders cannot afford to pay for the civil law assistance needed. Often these legal problems are caused by, or exacerbated by, homelessness, poverty, health issues, age, mental health problems, social disadvantage and/or disability. Government funding for civil legal aid is small, so the Civil Justice Fund can help fill the gap in civil law services.
There are serious social and economic implications that result from the lack of access to the civil justice system. Legal representation for some Queenslanders can mean the difference between having shelter and being out on the street. In different ways, access to civil justice can mean freedom from hardship for many people and enable them to return to being a productive and contributing member of society.
Many people with health problems and mental health issues have multiple legal issues that are not addressed by current legal services. Their legal issues are often exacerbated by their health problems and it is now known that resolution of civil legal problems "can impact the social determinants of health" (US Department of Justice, Feb 2015). The Civil Justice Fund is established to fill this gap.
Access to legal assistance should be determined on the basis of need rather than on the basis of a person's ability to pay. The Civil Justice Fund will provide direct legal assistance to families, the elderly, disadvantaged people and anyone with established need, in areas such as housing, employment, consumer protection, health, financial abuse, property disputes, guardianship, credit and debt and child protection.
Who oversees the administration of the Civil Justice Fund?
The Civil Justice Fund is administered by a voluntary Committee comprising lawyers, business leaders, a marketing specialist, an accountant and the director of LawRight. There are no administration costs to the fund as all work is done on a voluntary basis.
Who is most likely to support the Civil Justice Fund?
People who support the Civil Justice Fund have a commitment to the following areas of social welfare:
- the protection and promotion of legal rights and a strong civil society
and/or support and wish to assist people who are experiencing any of the following:
- mental ill-health
- elder abuse
- social disadvantage.