Understanding the unmet legal needs of consumers

15 November 2022
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The aim is to address the legal factors affecting consumers and improve outcomes for their mental health journeys through the Health Justice Partnership (HJP).

HJPs bring legal help to healthcare teams to address health-harming legal issues.

To lay the foundations for this work, an in-depth analysis across three Neami sites is taking place. It will look at the legal needs likely to arise for consumers of each service and the challenges they face in accessing legal assistance.

It also explores current relationships between the Neami staff on-site and local legal service providers, along with new opportunities to connect with the required legal help.

Legal needs assessments have been completed in two of the three sites.

Following these assessments, Health Justice Australia is working with Neami to broker partnerships with potential legal partners, taking into account what will work best in each service.

Partners in research 

Health Justice Australia and Neami’s research team are collaborating to explore how the HJP may complement and support the work of Neami staff.

“Together we are exploring the potential for HJP in different settings,” says Priscilla Ennals, Neami Senior Manager – Research and Evaluations.

“When legal issues arise, we are looking at the existing capability of Neami staff to identify and respond to legal issues affecting consumer health.

We are also looking at whether HJP would make a positive difference to their capability.”

The research project commenced with a baseline survey of Neami service staff across Australia, including peer support workers, support workers, managers, team leaders and clinical staff.

The survey indicates the wide range of legal issues staff see affecting many parts of consumers’ lives. The top six legal issues that were seen by workers sometimes or frequently were:

  • Money (84%)
  • Social security and Centrelink (76%)
  • Housing and tenancy (74%)
  • Family and relationships (72%)
  • Domestic or family violence (61%)
  • Challenges with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) (57%).

The survey also explored whether Neami staff felt they ‘had enough’ or ‘needed more’ (a bit, some, a lot) of specific resources or capabilities to respond to legal issues affecting consumers.

From the initial data, what stood out was the value of connection.

More than 80% of staff indicated that they needed more connection with professionals in other organisations, more knowledge about other services and more connection with communities to support consumers with their legal issues.

We look forward to continuing this partnership and sharing more as it progresses.