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Administrative data – capturing the full impact of the legal assistance sector?

November 4th 2019

Victoria’s legal assistance sector (like Legal Aid and community legal centres) includes some of the world's best services responding to clients’ specific and complex needs. But does the data currently measure its full contribution to our community? If not, what can be done about it?

Data can play an important part in monitoring the work: are you responding to the needs of your community? Are you making a difference? Which problems are prevalent and which approaches work to help people best?

Services routinely collect data as part of their day to day business – to monitor their services and account to funders. But painting the right picture with that data is paramount. In this project, we’re exploring what data is being collected and whether it captures or undersells the complex contribution of the legal assistance sector.

The Project

Victoria Law Foundation is mapping the administrative data collected and used by Victoria’s civil justice sector. Through structured interviews with the legal assistance sector, and then with courts and tribunals, we hope to understand how administrative data is being captured and used, exploring risks, challenges and successes, and whether it can help tailor services more effectively.

The project is being led by Dr Hugh McDonald, Principal Researcher, together with Cosima McRae, Senior Researcher.

‘Mapping this information will make an important contribution to evidence-based policy making in the civil justice system. It will also help identify knowledge gaps and opportunities to improve how legal services are delivered,’ Dr McDonald said.

‘The impact of this work could be significant, with robust and well analysed administrative data having strong potential to inform access to justice for Victorians,’ Ms McRae said.

Our findings will be captured in several reports, the first looking closely at the legal assistance sector.

Find out more about our research plan.