Legal help on the way for Bendigo

A LEGAL assistance group expanding into Bendigo will offer advice to those who need it most but can least afford it.

The Australian Justice Tribunal will offer pro bono legal assistance to central Victorians who have been unable to have their matters heard.

The group said it would rely on locals to help run the organisation as case assessors. Tribunal chairman Garth Eaton said the idea was to connect people who have expertise in dealing with legal paperwork with those who needed advice.

Mr Eaton said there was a huge demand for such a service.

“We’re seeing more people who haven’t been able to afford legal advice from day one. That’s where we come in. We see our role as sitting down with someone, looking over their case details and directing them on where they can go and what legal avenues they can pursue.”

According to the Australia Institute 490,000 Australians each year miss out on legal assistance because of lack of finances or lack of knowledge.

Mr Eaton said the organisation would take on matters previously put in the “too hard basket”.

He said the inability of many Australians to afford natural justice was a systemic problem within the civil and criminal justice systems and the effects were “crippling to families and individuals”.

Mr Eaton said the group had received a strong response from retired professionals since it started two years ago.

He said he was confident Bendigo residents would be willing to help as case assessors. Mr Eaton said people shouldn’t be deterred if they didn’t have a legal background, and that the work would primarily involve organising paperwork.

“The moment we have a response from one case assessor we will be up and running in Bendigo,” he said.

For information on applying for help or registering as a case assessor, go to www.TheAJT.org.au

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