Our investment in health and justice services

21 Dec 2017

To explore whether increased collaboration between health and justice services can give more Australians better access to the support they need.

We are pleased to announce a $3 million investment to national charity Health Justice Australia, to explore whether increased collaboration between health and justice services could give more Australians access to the support they need.

Established in 2016, Health Justice Australia works with lawyers and health professionals to create health justice partnerships – collaborative arrangements that allow vulnerable Australians to access free legal advice through their local health services.

The CEO of Health Justice Australia, Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine, said the grant would allow the organisation to build on the work of more than 20 health justice partnerships already operating in Australia, by tangibly demonstrating their impact.

“This funding will give us the support and the resources we need to systematically evaluate and capture the effectiveness of existing health justice partnerships, and build a case for rolling out the program on a national scale,” Dr Boyd-Caine said.

“We want to show that these partnerships, which began organically through effective collaborations between local health and legal organisations, can become a strong and coordinated network driving innovation in health and legal services and how they respond to community need,” she said.

She said Australia’s most vulnerable people continued to fall through the gaps between health and human services.

“We know that 8.5 million low income Australians experience three or more legal problems a year,” Dr Boyd-Caine said.

“We also know that health and justice issues are often linked – for example, mould left unaddressed in rental housing can drive respiratory problems.

“With lawyers working in health services, as part of health teams, to deliver the range of services people need, in the familiar settings they trust, we can reshape the way we address these kinds of related issues,” she said.

Our CEO, Simon Freeman, said he and the team were looking forward to working collaboratively with Health Justice Australia to push the envelope and challenge norms within the health and justice sectors.

“Health Justice Australia has identified a specific area where innovation and shifting established systems could significantly and positively impact the lives of vulnerable Australians,” Mr Freeman said.

“We’re excited to be supporting Tessa and her team on their mission, and look forward to testing whether disruption to the current health and justice systems could effectively lead to more Australians receiving the support they need.”